Change how you see the world, to change the world
In 2014, two mates had an idea. They were told it would never work. Their first machine broke, and so did their second. Finally, success, and Orange Sky, the world’s first free mobile laundry service for the homeless, took to the streets.
Since their first van ‘Sudsy’ was built, ACU graduate David Tubb and co-founders Nic Marchesi and Lucas Patchett, have been unstoppable.
“There were quite a few trips to Bunnings when we started, I never realised there were so many different types of hoses and taps,” said David. “We managed to blow up a few machines the first few times we washed.
“We’ve found however that the most important thing in our van is not the washing machine. It’s not the dryers, or the water tanks or generators. It’s six orange chairs. The first thing we do when any van pulls up is get those six orange chairs out and make a space for volunteers and homeless friends to sit down and have a genuine conversation.”
David said that the topics are ordinary – a book, the weather, or the football.
“You never know the impact that an individual conversation can have on someone’s life. For people that can be ignored for 99 per cent of the day, that lack of social connection can be quite debilitating.
“Just to have someone’s undivided attention for that hour while the washing is on helps them feel human again, and feel connected to people. To share stories is such a basic human right but not one that everyone gets to experience every day.
“There have been times when I’ve had a chat with someone, and at the end they thank me for talking to them, and tell me they haven’t spoken to anyone in days.”
As General Manager Operations, David has helped Orange Sky grow. There are now 16 vans around Australia and 850 volunteers who have done more than 350,000 kilos of laundry and held 50,000 hours of genuine conversation.
“We have three employees working for Orange Sky that used to be homeless here in Brisbane. The power of clean clothes and conversation can make the difference between being in crisis and having a tough time on the street, to transitioning back to what regular society would call a typical work life.
“What really hits home when talking to our homeless friends is that we are all made of the same stuff. It would have only taken one or two things to go wrong in my own life and I could have ended up in a different situation. You can never really judge people for their circumstances, because homelessness can happen to anyone.”
See more about Orange Sky Laundry here.
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