It’s incredibly important – and so refreshing – to acknowledge efforts made by young Aussies to better their communities and encourage widespread change.
Enter Nic Marchesi and Lucas Patchett, the 21-year old recipients of the 2016 Young Australian of the Year Award and Cocktail Rev’s Revolutionaries of the month. Fitting an old truck with two washing machines and two dryers, the best mates from Brisbane launched Orange Sky Laundry in their hometown in 2014. The free laundry service for the homeless was born out of a desire to restore respect and raise the health standards of Australia’s street-sleepers, while encouraging positive human connections.
Nic and Luc were so inspired by the message behind British musician Alexi Murdoch’s song Orange Sky that they applied the name to their project. Lyrics from the song include “In your love, my salvation lies” and “I had a dream I stood beneath an orange sky, with my brother standing by”. The pair say these lyrics embody the values at the heart of their mission.
Fast forward to the present and this big idea has expanded to include vans in Melbourne, South East Victoria, Sydney and the Gold Coast along with almost 300 cheerful volunteers. Each van requires roughly $80,000 to set up and run, and thanks to a $30,000 grant from Jetstar as well as corporate and public donations, the team at Orange Sky is completing around 350 weekly washing loads. The number is growing.
Now operating 5 vans, their crews have washed 50,000 kilograms of clothes and spent 12,000 hours chatting to people who’re sleeping rough.
They’d been volunteering with food vans through a programme offered through their high school. When they left school they wanted to continue helping, but there were already many food vans around. Then they realised that “the very first thing we all do in the morning is put a fresh set of clean clothes on and have a chat to someone,” said Lucas.“We thought everyone deserves that basic human right.”
They were blown away by the willingness of businesses to donate what they needed once they explained their idea.
It’s not just about providing clean clothes and better hygiene for people sleeping rough. There’s the invaluable social interaction and human contact provided from a simple non-judgemental conversation while the washers and dryers are rolling . They’ve found a way to ” treat others how they want to be treated.” That means restoring dignity and respect.
That you’re reading this on a street style website suggests you already understand the transformative effects that can come with choosing how we present ourselves to the world. After all, street style documentation is essentially about capturing the endless ways in which we express ourselves through how we dress. It’s intriguing how much it can reflect (or doesn’t) about a person’s character.
Now, the restoration of dignity, character, social connections and clean clothes is being channeled to 105,000 homeless people through Orange Sky. Amazing work! Congratulations and well done Nic Marchesi and Lucas Patchett.
If you’d like to get involved with Orange Sky and their incredible work, visit www.orangeskylaundry.com.au.