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Community takes action for 71-year-old Portsmouth woman doing laundry by hand

Woman gets new washer and dryer.PNG
Posted at 5:19 AM, Jan 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-26 17:39:55-05

PORTSMOUTH, Va. – Susan Barba was forced to wash laundry by hand and then hang it outside after her appliances broke about a year ago.

The 71-year-old Portsmouth resident said she would dry the clothes on the fence outside her home. The task was a hassle and difficult at times.

“The blankets were kind of heavy when they were wet, and I had a hard time wringing them out,” said Barba.

Her next-door neighbors watched with concern.

“They would see me hanging my clothes outside and dry them outside on the fence. I had to hand wash my clothes because my washer had been broken, and he called me up and said he wanted to help me,” said Barba.

The neighbor helped by reaching out to Western Branch Philanthropy, a Facebook group that takes action for those in the community in need. It's run by Karen Pinegar, who started the group about five years ago. Pinegar will post information about a person in need, and people will comment if they can help.

“I put the post up for the community on 1:01 Thursday, and by Thursday night I had someone who was willing to donate a dryer. The community is unbelievable,” said Pinegar. “I think the community is really wanting to reach out and help those who are less fortunate.”

The owner of Tidewater Appliance, Russell Heffner, said his fiancée also saw the post.

“She read the post and she asked me if there was any way we could help, and she said the lady really needed a washer,” said Heffner.

They donated a washer.

“I didn't have a lot when I was younger. We grew up at a pretty rough poverty level, so being able to help somebody, it really makes me feel really good,” said Heffner. “ I love doing anything I can to help people.”

Barba said couldn’t believe kindness she got from complete strangers.

“I was just in shock 'cause I've never had anyone be so kind to me like this,” said Barba.

“It takes all of us. It's, you know... I'm the administrator, but it takes the whole community, and people are just so generous. It's unbelievable,” said Pinegar.

No more washing by hand or carrying heavy loads outside.

“I can really use them, and I'm just so thankful. I can't thank them enough,” said Barba.