Conversation With ...

Kathy Boudreau, Laundry Clerk

For years, every single sports uniform that NMH students wore has passed through the hands of Kathy Boudreau. As the sole employee in the laundry, she makes sure that uniforms, practice gear, gym towels — anything from the athletic department that’s made of fabric — get washed, dried, and folded. She cleans every custodial mop on campus. She’s washing students’ face masks now, too. And until last spring, when COVID-19 canceled in-person campus events, she fit all the seniors with their caps and gowns for Commencement. It’s a job she can’t wait to do again.

 

What was the first time you ever did laundry?

I remember standing on a stool when I was 7 or 8 and helping my mother with an old wringer washer. The clothes went through two rollers to get the water out and we hung them on the line. I also remember getting dropped off at the laundromat with the family's laundry. We were four kids, so there was a lot. 

What was the laundry like when you started working at NMH?

That was 18 years ago, and 20 people worked here. There were no washers and dryers on campus, so we did laundry for everybody — students, faculty, and staff. I worked the counter. I’d wrap up laundry and hand it out to people when they came in. It was fun being able to talk to everyone all day. 

What are the pros and cons of working alone?

Sometimes it’s lonely. I miss seeing students. But sometimes it’s nice. I like to dance to the radio when I’m folding towels. And I’m so organized, it's not even funny. I have a routine and if anybody came in here to help me, it would mess me up.

Laundry hours sign

 

How is COVID-19 affecting your work this year?

Students will still be wearing uniforms when they scrimmage each other, and some of the winter teams will be practicing during the fall — so there is still plenty to wash. And the face masks take pretty much the whole day, three days a week.

How do the sports seasons typically differ in terms of laundry?

During the fall and spring, there are more uniforms, but they’re fairly light and easy to deal with. Winter is the hardest because the clothes are heavier, especially the big coats the swimmers wear. And towels — in the winter, I usually do between 300 and 400 towels a day. At the end of the season, I get the hockey knee pads and elbow pads. 

What’s the smell situation?

Before COVID, Saturdays were game days for all the teams. The uniforms would sit for the rest of the weekend in locked baskets, and they’d come to the laundry on Mondays. I’d open up the baskets and the odor would just rise right out of them. It sometimes made my eyes water. 

How do you feel about ironing?

Absolutely not. I don’t buy anything that has to be ironed. Or dry cleaned. If it can’t go in the washer or get hand-washed, I don’t own it.

 

Photos: Chattman Photography