The Orange Sky success story started small, with one hand-built van. Now their fleet of cutting-edge, smart vehicles is harnessing technology to make the world a better place, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.
It’s not unusual to find 20-year-old blokes tinkering with old vans, adding bells and whistles and some extra grunt.
But when Brisbane friends Lucas Patchett and Nic Marchesi set about customising their second-hand 2005 Volkswagen Transporter, the two mates had a big vision in mind. Throughout school and university, they’d volunteered to support people experiencing homelessness, aware that a staggering one in 200 Australians experience homelessness, they wanted to help.
And so, they built a mobile laundry, offering free washes for those unable to access the comfort, hygiene and dignity afforded by clean clothes.
Sudsy, as the van became known, received such a warm welcome in Brisbane that very soon the boys built another and the Orange Sky Laundry was born. Donations came rolling in and Orange Sky started rolling out vans in Cairns, Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart and beyond. That was 2014, and today Orange Sky is a thriving not-for-profit organisation spanning 24 cities across Australia and New Zealand, with 29 vans and more than 1,600 volunteers in locations as far-flung as North Queensland’s Lockhart River. At time of publication, the vans have provided 97,820 loads of washing and 8,433 warm showers. Most importantly, they’ve also enabled Orange Sky’s most important offering: 159,070 hours of conversation.
Six orange chairs travel with each van, providing a safe space for friends doing it tough and volunteers to chat while waiting for the wash cycles. The chairs embody Orange Sky’s guiding missions: safe, judgement-free and positive connections between equals, and breaking down stigmas around homelessness.
“A big part of Orange Sky is trying to demystify homelessness and take the opportunity to remind people that there are over 100,000 people out there in the community who experience homelessness, and who are from all walks of life,” says Patchett.
Vehicle for change (Sydney Morning Herald)