The Next Generation of Innovators

No fundraising effort is too small. Here at Orange Sky Australia, we see and appreciate every little thing that goes towards growing our community and helping our friends doing it tough.

We recently spoke to Eloise, who manages all of Orange Sky’s incoming messages through our emails, website and social media accounts. From participating in The Sudsy Challenge, gifting Orange Sky merchandise, selling toys to donate the proceeds to Orange Sky or aspiring to be the next Nic and Lucas, Eloise has heard some pretty cool stories.

“It is always a different day when I come in to work and I love that I can speak with many people from different walks of life. The best part about my job is hearing amazing stories from our supporters, and being able to provide support to our friends in need of a wash or shower,” she said.

We asked Eloise for three of her favourite stories of people doing amazing things in support of our friends…


Our friends and volunteers might be physically distanced at the moment, but that doesn’t mean that the connection has stopped. Nine-year-old Sebastian has taken it upon himself to make soap and donate 30 percent of profits to three charities – including Orange Sky. We are blown away by Sebastian’s hard work and dedication to helping others during this tough time.

“My name is Sebastian, I am nine years old and I have been making hand made soap and donating 30 percent to charities. I have chosen three charities, they are Orange Sky, Beyond Blue and Mission Australia. I chose these charities because what they do is amazing.”

Sebastian now has his own website, which you can check out here and buy some soap to support Orange Sky.

Grace & Evie

Grace and Evie spent the day at their Grandma’s work when they were home sick from school. They decided to set up a shop of their own to raise money for Orange Sky, selling office supplies, stationary and stuffed toys.

The girls raised $7.60 and were thrilled to be able to donate it towards our friends doing it tough.

St Rita's College, Clayfield

More than 120 girls from St Rita’s College, Rosa House took part in a belated Sudsy Challenge. Their goal was $1,000 and they absolutely smashed it by raising $3,888 by reaching out to friends, family and the other school houses.

The Sudsy Challenge will be back later this year, so make sure you’re following us on Facebook to find out how you can get involved!

Eloise told us that every dollar donated to Orange Sky was important.

“Each person had their own idea on how to make a difference for both Orange Sky and our friends doing it tough. Every little bit counts and we’re so grateful for any support from the community.”

At Orange Sky, we are constantly inspired by the next (and current!) generation of innovators – their social conscious, creative fundraising ideas and desire to constantly give back the community.

We’re excited to share that you can now host your own online fundraiser to support Orange Sky and ensure that we can keep delivering our service.

A Mother's Gift

It was a Thursday morning in Brisbane when Lucas and I were out on shift at Wickham Park. This inner-city park has a lot of significance for me; it’s where my Mum took me one morning when I was growing up to help volunteer – an experience that had a profound impact on my life. It’s also the place where we started Orange Sky alongside our high school food van.

Lucas and I were out on shift meeting with a mentor, who was giving us some feedback on our operations. It’s always a little bit uncomfortable for me dropping in on a shift; I feel like somewhat of an intruder on a special community, as volunteers and friends have such a meaningful connection (I’m also terrible at remembering names!).

I was standing at the back of the laundry van talking to two volunteers, Kathleen and Tammy, when out of the corner of my eye, I saw a woman sit down on an orange chair. She was talking to herself and looked quite down. I tried to maintain conversation and engagement with the volunteers, but I couldn’t help but be distracted by this friend.

I have always found empty orange chairs to be a sign of loneliness, but also the potential for connection with another person. I felt nervous as I walked over and sat down on one of the vacant orange chairs. I introduced myself. I said, “Hi, my name is Nic, do you mind if I ask what your name is?” She said, “I am Dani, nice to meet you.”

I noticed a strong accent. I asked her what was on for the rest of the day and Dani told me she was going to yoga. She said she found yoga and meditating helpful for her, and that she was able to get free classes in exchange for helping out at the studio. I asked how she found out about the studio and she told me she got the confidence to go there after an Orange Sky volunteer, Claire, suggested it to her.

I was intrigued by Dani’s accent, which she said was from California. She told me that Australia is now home and that she has left that part of her life behind. I asked if she missed anything from home. She said not much. Coming to Orange Sky shifts and going to yoga made her feel great and she told me stories of how other volunteers listened to her and made her feel supported. She said that the volunteer, Claire, reminded her of her own Mum because she listened without judgement and was super caring and loving.

Dani didn’t need to say any more, I had goose bumps and tears in my eyes. I knew exactly what she was talking about, because I had felt that special connection in my own life. I had felt that exact same feeling, from that exact same person, because the woman she was talking about was my own Mum, Claire Marchesi.

We kept on talking for the rest of shift until Dani’s washing was done. I could have spoken to her for many more hours. I have not seen Dani since that day, but I often think about that conversation. Dani would have been a few years older than me. We both come from different parts of the world with different upbringings and perspective, however have both felt the same beautiful connection from the same beautiful person.

Human connection is special and complex, but it often stems from the simplest things. In this case, it all started from a simple conversation on an orange chair in a park in Brisbane.

My Mum has given me so much, but this Mother’s Day, I am grateful for the gift of shared perspective, shared understanding and shared connection.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the wonderful Mums out there. 

Help us #continueconnection with friends in need

Learn More

Five things I learnt in my first month at Orange Sky

Starting a new job is the epitome of mixed emotions.

The nerves and excitement rolled in together are almost too much to handle. But when I started at Orange Sky Australia a month ago, I learnt very quickly that starting a new job did not have to be scary and stressful.

Here are the five things I learnt in my first month at Orange Sky…

1. Everyone is amazing – and I’m not just talking about that first month in, honey-moon phase. I am talking about a genuine connection. People really want to help you, get to know you and more than anything, make sure that your time at Orange Sky is valued.

2. Colour is king! I have a friend who joked that my new workplace would look like Google – I mean there’s coloured post-it notes lining the walls, whiteboards with some serious brainstorming and ergonomically considerate desks! Orange Sky is passionate about creating the best working environment for everyone, and they do a pretty great job at it.

3. Passion and purpose is palpable – they say if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life. For me, if you have passion in what you do, you will continuously want to do more.

4. Pretty stationery doesn’t make you productive. I love stationery and love how organised it makes things look, but does it really help me get more work done? No… it just looks pretty. It’s amazing to have the opportunity to leverage systems of work that are created to enhance productivity and efficiency.

5. Goal set, review, create objectives, build key results – rinse and repeat! Planning is just as important as wearing your favourite T-shirt – it adds something to your confidence, personality and productivity.

Coming from a hospitality and tourism background, it is an absolute breath of fresh air moving into the not-for-profit industry, especially to somewhere like Orange Sky where innovation and creativity is valued.

I now get the opportunity to work with organisations of varying sizes and different missions, but all with a common goal. This sense of community is definitely what connected me to Orange Sky and the role that I am in today.

Interested in learning more about Volaby?

Learn More

Feb Safety

Vehicles are a pretty big part of what we do at Orange Sky (we’re a ‘mobile’ laundry and shower service after all!), so we thought it was fitting to start this month’s safety spiel with some facts about vehicles that you might not know…

  • • There are an estimated 60 million cars made each year
  • • As of 2010, there were more than 1 billion vehicles being used on earth
  • • The average person spends two weeks of their life waiting at red lights!
  • • A car fuelled by a cappuccino was created as an attempt at producing a renewable energy source. The car system converts used coffee grounds to flammable gas. It takes 56 espressos to fuel 1.6km in the ‘car-puccino’
  • • Here is one last fact, and this one is a little more sobering; driver distraction is one of the main causes of road crashes, accounting for approximately 1 in 4 car crashes.

It’s a timely reminder as we start a new year to remain vigilant when we get behind the wheel of a vehicle, whether it’s our own or if we are driving an Orange Sky van to shift.


  • • Watch your speed. Speeding does not just mean driving faster than the posted speed limit, it also means driving too fast for the conditions such as weather, traffic and road conditions.
  • Fatigue is a major contributing factor to work-related vehicle accidents. Effects of fatigue on driving include impaired judgement, reaction times and performance among others. Drivers can manage this by having sufficient sleep before driving, keeping the cabin well ventilated, avoiding medications which cause drowsiness.
  • • Using mobile phones and tablets distracts drivers in a number of ways from their primary task of driving. Drivers can manage this by allowing calls to go to voicemail, not touching your device while at traffic lights or while stationary in traffic. If you must use your phone first pull over and come to a complete stop.
  • • OSA vans are longer and higher than standard vehicles, keep this in mind when parking, entering tight or low spaces. Be sure to use a spotter if you need guidance, take your time and never rush.By remembering to drive responsibly we can continue to keep our vans roadworthy and keep ourselves and the community safe this year.

A Sudsy Supporter

Meet Chelsea. She started working with Orange Sky in January and since then, we’ve learnt a few things about her; she is afraid of butterflies (we know, SO MANY QUESTIONS), she never reads the last page of a novel and she’s great at bringing in a buck or two (not surprising that she’s an Accountant!)

Chelsea and her partner, Arno are among our top fundraisers for The Sudsy Challenge, raising nearly $600 towards their goal of $1152 (which will support four friends for one whole year).

She said being part of The Sudsy Challenge gave her the opportunity to raise awareness about homelessness and experiences in her own community.

“Many of us are fortunate enough not to be in this situation, but there is something we can do to make a difference,” she said.

“My partner and I decided to do The Sudsy Challenge to help support the 116,000 Australians who are experiencing homelessness. We want to raise $567 to help support two friends for one whole year – and we pledge to match donations dollar for dollar, so we can help a total of four friends.

“We are passionate about volunteering and we are now very excited about taking the next step in furthering our impact!

“We hope people will join us in raising awareness for friends doing it tough and pitch in what they can – and don’t forget that it’s tax deductible!”

Chelsea is one of 2400 people who have signed up for The Sudsy Challenge and helped to raise more than $115,000 for people doing it tough.

Kitted up in her Sudsy shirt, Chelsea said she was hoping to have lots of “positive and informative” chats.

“We want to get out as much as we can because it’s a great opportunity to introduce Orange Sky and the Sudsy Challenge to our community! Since we are doing this as a team, we are planning on sticking together for the weekend. We are hoping that the matching t-shirts will invite a lot of curious eyes to our cause,” she said.

“We’ll start with our routine weekend errands, add in a few social engagements and end our weekend at our shower shift at Emma Miller Place.

“We want to emphasise the value in the conversations we have on our six orange chairs and hope that people will come to appreciate that broader conversations about homelessness must continue.”

Although Chelsea has only been with Orange Sky for a few short months, she’s had a huge impact already and is continuing her support for friends on the street through The Sudsy Challenge.

“Homelessness can happen to ANYONE. The power of empathy and human connection is what always pulls us back to Orange Sky’s mission of positively connecting communities. Without the continuous love and support that Arno and I have so graciously received throughout our lives, it could have happened to either of us. Being a part of the Orange Sky family and the Sudsy Challenge is our way of paying that love and support forward to those who deserve it just as much as we do.”

Want to support Chelsea and Arno?

Donate here

Two Guys, a Van, and a Crazy Idea

In 2014, two young blokes named Nic and Lucas found out that there were 116,000 Australians experiencing homelessness.

To put that in perspective, the MCG – our country’s biggest sporting arena – holds 100,000 people. Let that sink in for a bit.

Nic and Lucas knew that it was a big number and they wanted to do something to help. They had a crazy idea to build a free mobile laundry service and decided to hit up a big laundry company to get some washers and dryers.

The boys were told that it would never work, that no one would wash and dry their clothes in a park and that the machines would never operate in the back of a van.

It took them three days (and three sets of washing machines and dryers from the laundry company) to get the van working.

Nic, Lucas and Sudsy hit the streets and met a friend named Jordan. With the machines in full swing, there wasn’t a lot left to do but sit down and chat – and that’s where they learnt the real impact of the service. Sure, having clean clothes was important, but sitting down with Jordan and genuinely listening to his experience meant so much more.

That’s why at Orange Sky, our mission doesn’t involve the words ‘laundry’ or ‘washing’ – it is to positively connect communities.

We see everyday the power of a simple conversation and how feeling connected and part of a community can change a person’s life.

Here’s just a few of the friends that we’ve learnt that from over the past four and a half years:

George, Perth

George is one of our friends on the street who comes to shift each week to wash his clothes, have a warm shower and sit down for a chat with volunteers. He knows that he can rely on Orange Sky to be at the same place, same time, each and every week.

George has spent the past eight years living on and off the street and said it was the simple things that often had the biggest impact. “When you’ve been homeless for such a long time, it’s the small things that can give you a little bit more hope.”

Harry, Brisbane

When we first met Harry, he didn’t have a home, but we were able to provide him with access to clean clothes and genuine conversation. Harry taught us that homelessness is not about the absence of a roof over your head, but rather the absence of human connection. Although he no longer uses our laundry service, Harry still comes down every week for a chat with volunteers on our six orange chairs.

Luke, Sydney

Luke found himself living on the street after a serious relationship breakdown 10 years ago.
He is now getting his life back on track and said it was the support and genuine care of people in his life who helped him through such a difficult time. Every day across Australia, Orange Sky is able to provide friends like Luke with clean clothes, warm showers and genuine connection.

116,000 Australians are disconnected from the community and in need of support and human connection. But there’s something we can all do to help.

At Orange Sky, we’re lucky to have an amazing community of people who believe in what we do and support our crazy ideas – like the one to build a free mobile laundry van named Sudsy.

So, here’s another one for you all. It’s called The Sudsy Challenge; keep your kit on for three days, start conversations and support friends on the street.

Wearing the same clothes for three days in a row might be difficult or inconvenient, but that’s the whole point. It might give you just a small insight into some of the many challenges faced by our friends on the street. But it also might start a few conversations. Conversations that will help to raise funds and awareness so that everyone can have access to free laundry, warm showers and genuine conversation.

Help us build more vans like Sudsy and positively connect all Australians in need.

Sign up today for The Sudsy Challenge!

First impressions of an Orange Sky shift

Picture this; it’s a cold night in May, it’s raining, and you’ve just finished your first volunteer shift with Orange Sky at 9.30pm. You’re happy to be in a nice, warm car with the heater on and you’re already thinking about that cup of tea you’re going to have before hopping into bed tonight. But before you can do that, you bring yourself back to the friends you’ve just said goodbye to on shift and the 116,000 people who tonight, don’t have a place to call home.

A few months ago, we partnered with Harcourts in Brisbane and asked a few of their staff to do something out of their daily routine. We asked if they could give up a few hours of their day – before or after work – to go on an Orange Sky shift, sit down on our orange chairs and chat with some of people whom we have the privilege of calling our friends. It’s what 1300 of our volunteers around Australia do each and every week, and on that cold and rainy night in May, they got to experience first-hand the tough realities for our friends on the street. But more than that, they got to experience the power of connection and conversation.

Until you have been to an Orange Sky shift, it is hard to fully understand the importance of our six orange chairs. It’s where barriers are broken down, stereotypes are challenged, relationships are built and connections are formed. When you’re sitting on those orange chairs, you’re not thinking about the hundreds of emails that you have sitting on in your inbox or the life admin that you have to do on the weekend. You’re focused on the unique individual sitting on the chair across from you and what is happening in their world. At Orange Sky, we’ve seen how a positive connection can transform a person’s life, and that’s why we’re so passionate about helping to connect people all around Australia – and soon the world.

Before volunteering with Orange Sky, many people tell us they’ve never had any connection with a person experiencing homelessness. Or at least they think they haven’t.

In Australia, there are one in 200 people who are doing it tough. Only five percent of those who are classed as ‘homeless’ by the Australian Bureau of Statistics are actually sleeping rough. The other 95 percent are staying in shelters, boarding houses, temporary accommodation or severely crowded homes.

Most of us don’t know what it’s like to spend a night on the street, but nearly all of us could relate to being cash strapped at one point or another. An unexpected bill, a medical emergency or maybe the breakdown of a relationship – it doesn’t take long to be in a situation where money is tight.

Each week, at 26 locations around Australia, we see new volunteers jump out on our vans for the very first time. People get involved with Orange Sky for all sorts of reasons – they might have time on their hands, be looking to give back to the community, or in some cases, are after some sort of human connection themselves. Just like our friends, our volunteers are interesting, complex and extraordinary people who give up their time each week to help make someone else’s life just that little bit better.

Caitlin was one of the staff from Harcourts who came along to shift and met some of our friends. She told us she was overwhelmed by positivity and resilience of a friend she met out on shift that night.

“He’s had such bad luck and he’s such a nice guy… I couldn’t believe all the stuff he did. He lost his housing because he was paying rent to someone who wasn’t paying the real estate. He’s built his own little house and coffee table and created all this stuff from kerbside pick-up. He’s a really good guy.”

You can check out the full video below to see what happened when Harcourts staff met our friends.

Interested in joining the team?
Check out our volunteer page  to find out more and register to get involved.

Volunteer Now

How to Build a Mobile Laundry

Tell us a little about yourself
Hi, I am Joel and I am 23 years old. I am a Mechanical Trades Assistant at Orange Sky Australia and I specialise in anything carpentry or technical drawing related.

What are you building at the moment?
We are in the final stages of building a laundry van that is headed to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community of Palm Island in North Queensland. We are using a Mercedes Sprinter like we use for our hybrid vehicles, but this time we started with a cab chassis [a truck body]. The canopy was custom made and built off site.

What was it like planning the build?
We got the news that we had to build a vehicle for Palm Island and white-boarded the pros and cons against our current fleet. We then looked at our hybrid vans and laundry vans; how they function, how they can be maintained and how future-proof they are. A few options became clear when discussing the Lockhart River truck around the mechanical quality of the vehicle. It has not always been the easiest of vehicles to maintain so we made the decision to purchase a new vehicle. When everything was drawn up on the whiteboard, we landed on the purchase of a box body cab chassis; the first of its kind for Orange Sky.

What were some of the most important parts of the build process?
A lot of planning goes into this type of build but all of the systems already in our other vehicles stay the same. We have a great base to start with but there is a lot of research and design that needs to happen before the build starts and throughout the whole process. I did a lot of research on the spacial layout of the van and how different components fit inside. Damien specialises in the weight restriction, Nic M looks after the systems, Nic P the mechanical and Steven the electrical. We map all the dependencies on on a little pie chart and get to work.

How do you work together?
Usually we will have a big catch up at the start of the build and try to forecast what the week looks like. We will then try to estimate any times that the van is going to be inaccessible for example, when it goes to get exhaust done or if we have an electrician in to work on something specific. In terms of the actual HQ staff, it is pretty organic as a result of us building a lot of vans together.

What was the hardest thing about the build?
The weight restrictions. It’s a tight payload so we don’t have a lot of weight to work with before it has to be converted to a light ridged license. This would restrict the number of volunteers that could drive and gets in the way of our flexible volunteer models. Other restrictions are space and format for the onboard water.

Did you take a lot of ideas from other Orange Sky vehicles?
A lot of the build followed a similar format to other Orange Sky vans. All of the different workable sections of the van like the burner that heats the water, the pumps the water around and washer manifolds are still in their separate components. It was potentially easier to lay out all of the parts because it does not have the restrictions of the other vans, it is a box shape and a lot easier to square off and design flexibly.

Why do you think it is important for Orange Sky to offer laundry service in Palm Island?
I didn’t realise the need for a vehicle in remote communities in Australia until I had the opportunity to visit Orange Sky’s laundry truck in Lockhart River. I now know that it is not just individuals doing it tough, it is entire communities that don’t have access to these facilities. By going there and seeing the impact that out first remote vehicle is having in Lockhart River, it is a no brainer that we need to be in as many places as possible. Palm Island is just one of the many remote communities across Australia where we can have a massive impact.

What is next for the build team at Orange Sky ?
Next is working out all of our safe working instructions for the Palm Island vehicle. Before vans launch, we need to have a set of work instructions that someone in Palm Island can use, i.e. easy to understand guides for someone in Palm Island to change the detergent drum or clean a washing machine.

At this stage we also take a lot of documentation for ourselves by troubleshooting and diagnosing issues over the phone. I will do a lot of drawing and documenting so we can leverage the success of the build and replicate for further vehicles. We can then have a lot of the parts pre-fabricated before the next chassis arrives.

What makes Orange Sky special as part of the build team?
The freedom to make suggestions. I have never been in a workplace where I have felt like a senior member of a team as a 23 years old. You don’t feel like you are limited by your experience or your age. That is the coolest thing for me.

Interested in joining the team?
Check out our volunteer page  to find out more and register to get involved.

Volunteer Now

Start Your Conversation

Eight days, nine cities, twelve Orange Sky shifts and 20,000kms.

Our east coast tour saw us hit the road in a small orange car – with a large screen television in the back – to show off our new short film and yarn with friends, volunteers and the community about its possible impact. We traversed the east coast from Brisbane to Melbourne and pulled up at as many Orange Sky shifts as we could. 

The amazing Light and Shade team are the masterminds behind the feature. They donated their time and resources to produce the film, meaning the impact presented could go directly to our friends without overheads. The aim of the short film was to show three different stories in support of a better understanding of the 116,000 people experiencing homelessness across Australia. We knew we were onto something special, but until we could present the final product to our friends, we weren’t 100 percent sure we had it right. 

From our friend Keith in Melbourne to volunteer Hugh in Sydney, everyone provided thoughtful and consistent feedback about the importance of community understanding around the diversity of people doing it tough in Australia. There was also a lot of discussion about the power of connection by sitting on our six orange chairs and having genuine conversations.

The feature video will now be playing on SBS and across Foxtel channels as community service announcements for at least the next year. We hope that the people watching will spend some time chatting with their family and friends about their own ideas around homelessness and ways that we can all play a part in supporting everyone to feel positively connected.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be introducing you to some of the people we met on our tour. One of those people is Luke, a friend in Sydney who is getting his life back on track after some tough times. He believes there could be better understanding and support for people in need, and is now doing his part to give back and lend a hand. Watch our conversation with Luke here.
You can also check out what we got up to during our week on the road…

Interested in joining the team?
Check out our volunteer page  to find out more and register to get involved.

Volunteer Now