By Helen Martin
When Jin Choi and Young Park established Helensville Automotive near the town’s southern entrance last year they also converted the existing house into a home for themselves and a laundromat, which is now up and running.
While Jin gets on with panelbeating and restoring cars Young runs the laundromat. She has been in New Zealand for 25 years, has a Masters degree in language teaching and is a licensed immigration advisor and interpreter. As well as working with fellow Koreans, her immigration company helps people from places like Vanuatu, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and many other countries. She also has experience interpreting in court, hospitals, police stations and community organisations. Young likes the flexibility of being able to run her immigration and laundromat businesses while also helping Jin out with the panelbeating business.
People are very grateful that Helensville now has a laundromat, Young says. The self-service operation has seven washers and 11 driers of three different sizes to suit the size of the load. The washing and drying cycles take about 30 minutes each. There is a television for customers who choose to wait on the premises. Young asks customers who leave to respect each other by returning promptly to collect their washing when it is ready to allow waiting customers to use the machines.
An aspect of the business Young really enjoys is that after people have put their washing in the machines they relax. Some like to share their personal stories, telling her about their families and sometimes sharing their worries. It reminds her of when, as a girl back in Korea, she used to follow her mother to the communal washing place in the village and listen to the stories the women shared.
After the laundromat was opened Young and Jin responded to requests to install a coffee machine with drinks and snacks. It hadn’t been there long when a man tried to steal it, dragging it outside and prizing it open. The machine was empty, so he went away with nothing, but the blood he left behind led to his arrest a few months later down country, a good outcome, everyone agreed, given that these people are providing a much-needed service for the whole community.
Young and Jin are enjoying settling in here and getting to know people. They’re proud that their work is being so warmly received and the community is very pleased to have them here.