Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pinellas Park charity helps homeless teens do laundry


It takes 16 quarters to wash a bundle of clothes at Quick Way Laundry and another six to dry it. Multiply that by the number of homeless teenagers who come to Kay Tillinghast with backpacks full of dirty laundry and you have an expensive charitable habit.

Every week for the past few years, Tillinghast, who works for the nonprofit Family Resources, has been helping runaways and shelter kids do laundry. Most Tuesdays, she rounds up a few in her minivan — "any more than two or three and it takes on a party atmosphere," she says — and brings them to the outdoor coin laundry on Lown Street.

For a few hours, while the washing machines are spinning, she has a captive audience for case management and mothering. But the quarters have added up.

Family Resources has launched a campaign called Quarters for Kids to collect donations. They're welcome in coin form — the St. Paul United Methodist Church in Largo already handed in more than $200 in quarters.

Earlier this week, while a 19-year-old napped in the trunk of her car, Tillinghast folded the girl's clothes. The sleepy teenager, Solanyi Cabrera, has been living on the street, on and off, for the past four years. At times, she said, she and a friend slept on the benches inside the coin laundry.

"We used to make it look like we were washing clothes," she said. "If somebody came over, we just acted surprised, like, 'Oh sorry! I fell asleep!' "

There is now a chance that Cabrera could get an apartment of her own. Family Resources started its own housing program and built a small apartment complex for youth ages 18 and older who are either homeless or have aged out of the foster care system.

Cabrera is one among many on a long waiting list, Tillinghast said, but first she must find a job.

As Tillinghast helps another young woman fold her clothes on a recent Tuesday, she finds a lighter in a pants pocket and holds it up disapprovingly.

"I thought you'd quit smoking," Tillinghast says.

The woman, who dropped out of high school and left home after turning 19, says the lighter isn't hers.

Anna M. Phillips can be reached at or (727) 893-8779.

How to help

Donations can be sent to Family Resources, 5180 62nd Ave. N, Pinellas Park, FL 33781, or go to its website at and click the donate button.

Pinellas Park charity helps homeless teens do laundry 03/17/13 [Last modified: Sunday, March 17, 2013 11:45pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Inside the Rays continuing historically bad slump


    The numbers tell the story of the Rays inexplicable ongoing offensive slump, and the words detail how tough it has been to deal with.

  2. How Rays' Chris Archer is branching out on Twitter

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Rays RHP Chris Archer has made a name for himself on the mound. And at a time when some athletes work to steer clear of any issue with a tint of controversy for fear it could damage their brand, Archer has used that platform to weigh in on some topical social, political and news events.

    Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Chris Archer (22) leans on the railing of the dugout during the All-Star game at Marlins Park in Miami, Fla. on Tuesday, July 11, 2017. WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times

  3. Candidates for governor get emotional talking about their gay siblings


    Occasionally in today's hyper-rehearsed and contrived world of political campaigns one witnesses moments that are so honest and real, we can't help but understand we're not just listening to another politician give his or her stump speech; We're listening to a human being who understands personal pain at least as well …

    Chris King talking to reporters in Tallahassee
  4. Southern heritage groups sue to keep Confederate monument at old Tampa courthouse

    Local Government

    TAMPA — Groups that say they support Southern heritage filed a lawsuit late Friday trying to halt the removal of a Confederate statue from downtown Tampa.

    Workers place boards around a Confederate monument on Hillsborough County property in Tampa on Thursday, August 17, 2017. It took 24 hours to raise private funds in order to move the statue from its current location.
  5. Bucs mull options at right tackle as Dotson awaits MRI


    Right tackle Demar Dotson, the Bucs' most experienced offensive lineman, will undergo an MRI on his injured groin Saturday, three weeks before the season opener.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneer Demar Dotson, offensive tackle, brought his coffee and breakfast to One Buc Place, 7/31/15, as he reported to training camp.