ORANGE Sky Laundry is about more than a free clothes washing service for the homeless.
It changes lives and is the start of a journey back to self-respect for the homeless.
Supporters gathered at Port City Bowling Club on January 28 to learn more about Orange Sky Laundry from co-founders Lucas Patchett and Nicholas Marchesi.
Erin Denham, who heads the Mid-North Coast fundraising through the non-profit group Make a Difference, also addressed the crowd.
Orange Sky Laundry gives the homeless free mobile van access to washing machines and dryers while encouraging conversation and community connections.
A fundraising campaign has a $100,000 target to get a van on the road between Taree and Kempsey.
Mr Patchett said they were really excited to work with the Make a Difference team to drum up support.
“This is a relatively small community that has banded together to get behind the simple idea we have,” he said.
That idea has blossomed into vans in 11 locations.
Mr Marchesi said in the first month of operation, they were lucky enough to receive more than 2500 unique donations from 24 countries and be able to wash and dry the clothes of more than 100 homeless friends.
Orange Sky Laundry has expanded to handle more than 7.5 tonnes of laundry each week.
The service is a catalyst for conversation. That is how Orange Sky Laundry has the biggest impact.
Orange Sky Laundry chief executive officer Jo Westh said the fact two young fellows had seen a need and gone hard after it to make a difference had resonated with the Australian public.
“The volunteers tell us they get so much more out of the volunteer experience than they had ever predicted,” she said.
“They learn about people’s stories in a very safe and comfortable environment and it demonstrates how close we all are to being homeless.”
Orange Sky Laundry has 800 volunteers with 11 vans in operation across the country.
Mr Patchett said the Mid-North Coast van would be the first in a smaller regional community.
“We’ve been blown away by the support that has grown incredibly quickly here,” he said.
Orange Sky Laundry is developing a model in Brisbane with commercial laundry contracts and employment to some homeless friends.
“Ultimately that is what we would like to do in a place like Port Macquarie,” Mr Patchett said.
“Clothes washing is the start of a journey back towards self-respect and dignity.”