I’ve been an Orange Sky Volunteer for four years, here’s what it’s taught me.

I learned about Orange Sky during a conversation over our family dinner table. My brother had come home from school beaming after hearing about a laundry and connection service for people doing it tough. He told me about the two young speakers – Nic and Lucas – who spoke to his school. Looking back, it’s fitting that a special conversation was the way that I learned about Orange Sky. After volunteering for four years and becoming part of the head office team over the past year; I’ve learned that ‘conversation’ is what it’s all about. 

I had just graduated high school when my brother told me about Orange Sky’s work. At that time, I was seeking something that would push me out of my comfort zone. I’d always been quite reserved and played it safe, but I was looking for a new opportunity. Something that would improve my mental health and actively help people.

When I registered for Orange Sky, I loved the flexibility and array of shifts I could join. I was leading a pretty busy lifestyle, so the Fortitude Valley morning shift worked really well. What I quickly learned was that the laundry service was merely a footnote of an Orange Sky shift; the main aspect is the sense of community. Whether that be conversations happening on the semi circle of orange chairs, or people standing together chatting over a warm breakfast and cuppa. Others may be sitting alone or reading a book. What I saw was people from all walks of life, enjoying time in each other’s company in a safe space.

Four years into my volunteering, I’m now lucky enough to work in the Head Office Team in operations. Also, I get to visit schools, and talk to kids about homelessness and the work that Orange Sky does. Given the impact the school talk had on my brother and my life, this is particularly special to me. Now, I get the chance to learn from and share with young minds about such an important aspect of our community. 

From these school presentations, I’ve learned more about the stigmas of homelessness. At the start of each talk I ask kids to share words they associate with homelessness. Most often, I hear “dangerous”, “dirty”, “scary”, or “alcohol”. When I explain that these are people like us, who didn’t have the same support networks, or that tough instances occurred that changed the shape of their lives; the kids respond so well. By the end of a talk, often children are sharing how wrong it is that people have to be in this situation. Other kids ask me how to sign up to volunteer. It’s so heartwarming. 

What I’ve learned during my time with Orange Sky is that there are some very inaccurate and heartless stereotypes that exist around homelessness. I understand as I had these same stigmas. Fortunately they were quickly reversed since joining Orange Sky. Now, I see the importance of reconnecting people in the community and the power of a conversation. 

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Connecting Western Australia's largest Aboriginal community through laundry

Six months have passed since the Western Australian Kimberley coast town of Bidyadanga welcomed Orange Sky and our bright orange laundry trailer into the community. We’re incredibly proud to be working alongside the community representative body, Bidyadanga Aboriginal Community La Grange Inc (BACLG Inc), to provide this service.

Bidyadanga is Orange Sky’s fifth remote service, but the laundry trailer is the first of its kind; a solar-powered laundry system on a bright orange trailer. Powered by Bidyadanga’s 300+ days of sun and REDARC batteries, the trailer is fitted with three washers, three Waru dryers, and six orange chairs.

As a result of social, economic and geographic factors, laundry access can be challenging in Bidyadanga. Veronica Yanawana (VY), is a Bidyadanga resident and employee on the laundry trailer. On ABC Kimberley’s Saturday Breakfast with Eddie Williams, VY shared how she connects with her community whilst helping with their washing.

“Some people don’t have a washing machine at home, which makes it very hard,” she said.

VY also recognises the health and wellbeing factors associated with the services; “Clean clothes make you feel proud and happy.”

Bidyadanga is located in the northwest reaches of the Kimberleys, home to a population of 850 residents including Karajarri, Traditional Owners. The namesake of the coastal region translates locally to ‘emu watering hole’. In the early-mid 1900s, the region established a station and mission. This developed the community seen today, with residents from five language groups; Karajarri, Juwalinny, Mangala, Nyungamarta and Yulpartja. 

The Orange Sky service kicked off at the beginning of the wet season, when it can be particularly challenging to keep clothes and bedding, dry and clean. Since launching, VY and the Bidyadanga team have provided 940 loads of washing and 861 hours of connection across 80 shifts. The engagement in the service continues, with the team continuing to wash 10-20 loads of washing each day! 

Community Programs Officer in Bidyadanga, Ingrid Elmitt believes the laundry service provides “holistic value to the community,” including social and emotional wellbeing, environmental health, conversations with residents and improving people’s access to other family hub services.

“It’s not just about the clothes, it’s what it brings to the community.”

Orange Sky is grateful to work alongside the Bidyadanga community and our service partner BACLG Inc, in providing access to laundry facilities and non-judgmental yarns.

VY and Ingrid chatted with ABC Kimberley’s Eddie Williams on Saturday Breakfast about the laundry service in Bidyadanga and its impact in the community.

Say hello to Orange Sky’s biggest laundry truck!

Orange Sky has rebuilt our remote truck, ‘Rosco’, into our largest laundry vehicle to date! Now fitted with four washers and four Waru dryers, Rosco can carry the load of two of our regular laundry vans. The laundry truck was dreamed and built in just one day to support the growing need for our services in flood-affected communities across South East Queensland and Northern New South Wales. It is currently supporting families and businesses to get back on their feet by offering free laundry (and a chat!) from sun up to sun down.

Before Rosco became Orange Sky’s largest laundry truck, he was first the trusty vehicle that saw our team travel around Australia to connect with remote communities. The truck was named in 2021 as a homage to longstanding volunteer, the late Rob ‘Rosco’ Scoates, who helped Orange Sky deliver services to communities in need. The Rosco truck today continues to provide extensive support for people in need, much like Rob always did.

So, how did we dream up and build our biggest ever laundry truck in less than a day?

They say, ‘necessity is the mother of invention’. When the natural flood disaster hit the Australian east coast in late February, Orange Sky worked quickly, deploying all available resources to support the community relief efforts. In addition to deploying three remote vehicles and one laundry trailer, all sporting three washers and three Waru Dryers, we knew more was needed to support the laundry needs of flood-affected areas.

Orange Sky’s Innovation Team got straight to the drawing board to upgrade the existing van, Rosco, into our biggest laundry van yet. Orange Sky Co-Founder Nic Marchesi said, “the situation was rapidly worsening and we knew many homes and people were without access to laundry. Our goal was to build our largest mobile laundry asset and get it out to local communities as quickly as possible to support those impacted.”

Rosco has also been built without a need for mains power. This allows Orange Sky to operate in high demand situations and avoid power challenges that are common during natural disasters.

From Tropical Cyclone Marcia in 2015, to the 2019 Bushfires and Covid lockdowns, we are committed to helping people affected by extreme weather conditions and other devastating events across the country.

Currently, Orange Sky is working closely with communities, local authorities and specialist organisations on the ground to determine where the biggest need for our free laundry services are. Rosco will continue to support communities with a high demand for washing, whether that’s through our community recovery efforts or through our regular services supporting everyday people doing it tough.

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The positive impact of our bright orange van in Wadeye

Ever wondered the challenges of doing washing in remote Australia? 

Have you ever needed to wash clothes by hand in a sink or bathtub? Maybe your washing machine was temporarily out of order. Maybe you were backpacking or camping. For many Australians living in remote regions, this can be a permanent reality and the only option. 

Washing machines tend to be unreliable, and they are not easy or affordable to come by.

That’s why Orange Sky is focused on providing reliable laundry solutions for remote communities.

In the north-western NT town of Wadeye, access to laundry services has been an ongoing challenge. Laura Crossfield operates Wadeye’s local safe house, One Tree Community Service, which had limited laundry facilities to support the needs of the community. “People would have to carry their blankets and clothes all the way to our fixed facility, and often there would be five people waiting to use a machine,” Laura said. 

Near the end of 2021, Orange Sky launched a mobile laundry van in Wadeye, marking our fourth remote service. Alongside service partner, Thamarrurr Development Corporation (TDC), we are contributing to improving the social and health outcomes for the community of Wadeye. In addition to free laundry, the Orange Sky service provides employment opportunities and seeks to create a safe space for genuine connection. 

Since the September launch, Wadeye has been one of our most utilised services across Australia. In just under six months, the local team has provided around 1,500 loads of washing and created space for close to 1,000 hours of genuine connection. While the community has been significantly affected by Covid in recent months, TDC have ensured the service could continue operating as often as possible.

Washing is not merely a chore and is much more than a hygiene solution. Laura understands the important role that laundry plays in people’s social and physical wellbeing. “If you’ve got clean clothes, you’re more likely to go to school… there shouldn’t be barriers to people having clean clothes.”

Founded as a mission in 1935, Wadeye has a diverse Aboriginal population from various clan groups. Laura commented that “though Wadeye has a large number of clan groups and families, the Orange Sky van brings everyone together for one common purpose”. The togetherness experienced on shift in Wadeye is an integral part of our service, alongside our local partner, TDC. 

The ‘T’ in TDC, is ‘Thamarrurr’, which means ‘everybody together’. Orange Sky is so grateful to be welcomed into the Wadeye community, to wash, yarn and connect together with TDC and Wadeye residents.

International Women's Day 2022

International Women’s Day (IWD) marks a special moment in time for the Orange Sky community, and this year hits particularly close to home for our organisation. The 2022 theme is ‘Break The Bias’; a movement encouraging us all to pause and hold space for purposeful conversations that inspire actions to stop generational stigmas, discrimination, and exclusion around women. 

Each and every day, Orange Sky strives to positively connect people doing it tough – regardless of who they are and what their living situation is – through non-judgemental and genuine conversations. We pull out our iconic six orange chairs, throw on a load of washing, and sit down for a chat with our friends.

IWD encompasses many things, but most importantly, it is a day committed to transforming communities, and changing the way people think, feel and respond to create a more inclusive space for the women of our world to thrive. 

This sentiment is infused into everything we do at Orange Sky, and the passionate people who make it happen. This year, we were lucky enough to hear from four amazing women at our IWD event. Together, through the power of technology, we were able to share in their wisdom, knowledge and stories, and walk away from the conversation feeling inspired and hopeful for the future. Here’s what they had to say…

Jenny Hutchens: Orange Sky, Chief Finance Officer

Jenny is a valued member of the Orange Sky family, having recently joined as the Chief Financial Officer. She is passionate about diversity and inclusion in the workplace, and is particularly excited about the future growth and pathway Orange Sky is carving. 

“I have chosen to challenge biases in my personal and professional life. I strive in my personal life to role model behaviours and show that everyone should be treated equally, regardless of differences and uniquenesses. In my work life, recruitment in particular, is not based on gender or race, but on diversity of thought and bringing the best to the organisation.”

Kiri Brain: Turks Legal, Chief Executive Officer

Kiri is CEO of Turks Legal, one of Orange Sky’s incredibly valued partners. Kiri comes from a marketing background and has always had a passion for diversity – particularly in the workplace. 

“Breaking the bias to me reminds us that we can’t make a change unless we as individuals decide that we need to do something and take action. It is really important that we are aware of our own actions and consciously recognise that we are going to take steps to break the bias ”

Mary-Anne Cahill: Orange Sky Volunteer 

Mary-Anne has volunteered with our service on the Sunshine Coast for almost 6 years! She attributes her passion for education and helping others to her migrant background. Strength and high achievement were modelled by her family and community, which she brought to her 40 years of teaching and her volunteering with orange Sky.

“Every shift we meet female friends with the amazing resilience to put their feet on the ground each morning and go on for another day. This is something that needs to be celebrated. We need to consider and champion these women. We need to speak positively about their experiences and bravery in the face of overwhelming odds. I see our role as a social conduit between our friends and the wider community. We have an obligation to be their voice, at times when they have no voice.”

Abbey Allin: Thread Together, Marketing and Commercial Lead 

Abbey is the Marketing and Commercial Lead for Thread Together, an organisation that supports our friends experiencing homelessness through the provision of clothing donations.

“The most important piece of advice I have received was to be myself. I worked closely with engineers [in a previous role], where the bias was heavily steered towards men. However, I was told – you don’t have to be a man to get things done. This allowed me to confidently use my skills of understanding and empathy, to remain authentic to myself whilst being successful in the workplace. This advice came to me from a female manager who exuded calm in the face of adversity. An intelligent and empathetic leader who found solutions and took people on the journey with her.”

A world where women choose to challenge the biases and champion each other looks hopeful, but change cannot happen on its own. With the support, encouragement and passion from women like Abbey, Jenny, Kiri and Mary-Anne, together we can carve a world for future generations to thrive in.

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One word that symbolises the last 12 months

I could sum up the past 12 months by a simple word and symbol; the word ‘change’, accompanied by the triangle, ∆ or Greek symbol ‘delta’. Change has been prevalent this year for Orange Sky, as it has been for many. Although nearing the end of 2021, I see that our crazy and broad ambitions have begun converging towards clear targets; much like the pointed edge of a triangle.

From our first wash in Sudsy to launching our volunteer management system Volaby (formerly Campfire); Orange Sky strives for innovation. We set a new five-year target to help 40,000 people by 2025, identifying the ongoing importance of innovation in everything that we do. This led to the development of Team Delta, a department focused on imagining new ways of helping people. I took on the role of Chief Delta Officer, with a mission to help more friends, develop new rigorous revenue streams and cultivate and curate Imagination and Innovation in what we do best!

I approached this new department by thinking as broadly as possible. The brief was simple; dream up innovative ways of helping communities that need us most, by giving some ideas a crack.

Our investigation to find communities needing laundry and connection support gave rise to the remote venture. Over a three month period, three team members and I hit the road in our orange truck, Rosco. We washed and yarned our way through 29 remote communities, with the intention to connect, learn and grow our remote services.

I cannot overstate the extent to which the venture informed Team Delta’s direction. While the washing was on, we sat with locals and community leaders, listening to stories that date back over 60,000 years. From central to top end Australia, children and Elders alike, it illustrated to us the importance of togetherness and Country.

Despite this, the ongoing disproportionate impacts of colonisation upon First Peoples was evident. In many places, limited access to health hardware, such as washing machines, continues to have significant impacts on health and wellbeing. It was clear that we needed to play a role in this space.

Following the remote venture, our team is now well on their way to tripling our impact in remote communities. In November, we launched a new service in Wadeye, with more locations ready for early 2022.

While in Central Australia on Anangu land, the powerful sun was beaming down and an idea was born. It was here that the Waru Dryer was designed. To improve our environmental impact and build costs, Team Delta imagined a new dryer that ran on solar power rather than generators.

‘Waru’, meaning ‘fire’ in Pitjantjatjara, represents a meeting place as well as one of humankind’s first inventions. This meaning aligns to the journey and intention of our mobile laundry vehicles. The world’s first solar powered Waru Dryers continue to be rolled out across Australia; saving 80% of electrical energy each shift.

The phrase ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ certainly applies to the build of our new remote vehicles (RV). To support our existing and future services in remote communities, we knew that our city-dwelling vehicles needed redevelopment. Reliability is essential in geographically inaccessible locations.

The RV3.0 is the world’s first solar powered laundry van, with three washers and three dryers onboard, and equipped with our latest mobile laundry innovations including the Waru Dryer. 

At this point, it would be remiss not to mention how Team Delta’s namesake became a COVID-19 strain that swept the globe this year. It feels almost suited that COVID would impact our imagination department, as it has done for many of our services and our daily lives. The Delta strain and pandemic continued to teach us to become more adaptable than ever to support our friends doing it tough.

Back at HQ in Brisbane, the team strived to new heights as well. Our volunteer software, Volaby, gained new incredible partners and was awarded the iAwards Queensland Not-for-Profit and Community Solution of the Year. Team Delta also launched two new laundromat offerings to extend our ways to help more people. Beginning in Toowoomba, the Laundromat of the Future, is a way for Orange Sky to perform volunteer-run shifts from existing laundromats to support friends. In November, we launched a Social Impact Laundromat in Adelaide (pictured below). This laundromat operates as a standard paid laundry service for the entire Adelaide community, with the added benefits that funds go towards powering our other free services. 

This year, we have achieved some of our greatest innovations since beginning Orange Sky. Despite the flows of change, I’m grateful to see the continuation of connection found on our six orange chairs. This togetherness is what Orange Sky is all about and is particularly important around holidays. It brings me warmth knowing that across Australia and New Zealand, our core values are emulated by incredible volunteers, and made possible by our team, supporters and service providers.

I found it interesting to learn that originally the delta symbol was a Phoenician letter meaning ‘door’. As we close out 2021, there is a sense that we are stepping through the door and into a landscape of new and exciting change and growth ahead of us.

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Why connection is still the most important part of what we do

There’s been a lot of change for Orange Sky this year; growing our services, redesigning our vehicles and continuing to navigate through the unknown of a global pandemic. On a more personal level, I stepped into the role of CEO earlier this year, while my best mate Nic took on the leadership of our newly created Innovation and Imagination department, Team Delta.

Through change comes growth, and we’ve certainly experienced some epic milestones in 2021 that have supported us on our journey of helping 40,000 people by 2025.

What I’m most proud of though is the ongoing connection that has taken place on orange chairs across Australia and New Zealand. Every day this year, people from different walks of life came together for a common goal of sharing genuine conversation, free washing and warm showers. Despite the milestones, this remains the heart of our service.

As I write this, I’m reflecting on the fact that many of us are fortunate to be connecting more than ever; Christmas parties, social gatherings, and time spent with loved ones. In contrast to this, many of our friends doing it tough are more disconnected than ever at this time of year. 

Each holiday season, Orange Sky works hard to bridge this gap with the support of our incredible donors, volunteers, service providers, and team.

Orange Sky typically sees 20% reduction in shifts over the holiday period due to service provider closures – these partnerships are critical in the delivery of our laundry and shower service. This year, we have mobilised a number of pop up shifts to continue supporting our friends over the holidays, and expect to see only a 16% reduction in shifts.

We have also conducted a match giving appeal for a second year (thanks to the support of the Shine On Foundation) and we’ve been blown away by the generosity of our donors to support friends doing it tough. Damo’s story of transitioning from a friend of Orange Sky to a regular volunteer has certainly resonated with many people. As Damo told us, “homelessness doesn’t get a holiday,” and it’s an even more important time for our services to continue operating. 

This Christmas, I look forward to going out on shift, sharing a chair and a chat with our friends and volunteers.

Connection is important all year round, but is heightened over this important period. We all deserve this very basic human right. It’s been another challenging but impactful year, and I’m so grateful to our entire community for helping us continue to connect in 2021. 

Wishing you all a happy holiday, and see you in the new year!

These holidays, give the gift of connection.

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How homelessness led me to Orange Sky

Meet Damo, an Orange Sky volunteer on the NSW Central Coast. Damo first met Orange Sky as a friend accessing our laundry and shower services in Sydney, before finding safe, permanent housing on the Central Coast. He described the Orange Sky shift as the ‘most positive social event of [his] week’ – restoring his confidence, and dignity. After settling into his new life, Damo wanted to give back, and became a volunteer for Orange Sky – providing the same conversation, respect and connection that he experienced years ago. Here’s Damo.

Hi, I’m Damo. I’ve spent most of my life seeking refuge by living on the streets, but now I’m an Orange Sky volunteer and team leader.

I was born in New Zealand and have spent over 20 years living in Australia. Since the age of seven, homelessness was prevalent in my life. To seek refuge from violence in my home, I ended up on the streets. Those early traumas affected me psychologically and led to a great deal of my life spent without a home or a normal existence.

I don’t think people can understand the loss of identity and isolation that comes with homelessness. It is soul wrenching and takes a long time to recover from. Throughout each day, it was rare to feel recognised or have anyone to engage with.

When I came across Orange Sky in Sydney in 2017, I was blown away! Using the service and interacting with volunteers was the most positive social event of my week. It was a breath of fresh air to engage with people who treated me with dignity and respect. I cannot understate the importance of being recognised; for someone to remember your name, your face and your story.

Life today has changed dramatically. I am living in a house on the Central Coast of NSW and reaching heights that I’d never imagined. The support of Orange Sky helped me recover a lot of my identity, dignity and self respect. I am now a volunteer and team leader with Orange Sky’s Central Coast team. Every shift I try to emulate the experience volunteers gave to me.

Giving back to my community is so important because of my journey with homelessness. I’m in a unique position to relate to the experiences of people who are still struggling, because I’ve faced those obstacles. Christmas, in particular, is tough for people living on the street. Homelessness doesn’t get a holiday or a day off. People’s needs don’t change because it’s a holiday.

This Christmas and beyond, I hope I can keep doing more to support friends doing it tough and be available for those I cherish. My life is a humble existence for sure, but it’s… it’s an existence. Helping others is pretty much my life’s work now.

The holidays can be a tough time, especially for our friends experiencing homelessness. If you’d like to help ensure that volunteers, like Damo, can continue supporting our friends over the holidays, please consider a donation today.

These holidays, give the gift of connection.

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The "magnetic personality" behind Gold Coast volunteer, Dave

There are many things we have learned in our years of operating. One of the first and most important lessons is that volunteers are at the core of positively connecting communities. More than the logistical running of a shift, Orange Sky volunteers (who we often refer to as ‘vollies’) are the heart and soul behind what we do. From Wadeye to Wollongong, thousands of volunteers across the country don an orange shirt and support their community through the provision of clean clothes, warm showers and genuine conversations.

Today is International Volunteer Day, and we want to say THANK YOU to every legend who dons an orange sky shirt. From Wadeye to Wollongong and across the ditch to Wellington, we’re grateful to the thousands of volunteers who provide friends with access to clean clothes, warm showers and genuine conversations.

Gold Coast volunteer Dave McConville is one of those people. For the past five years, he’s provided support to his community and has become a valued member of the Set Free shift team. 

People like Dave are the reason that friends feel safe and excited to return to shifts each week. And while Dave’s tagline might be, “it’s too easy”, our friends, volunteers, and service providers benefit from the seeds of trust and support he has sown. 

We had the pleasure of speaking with two Gold Coast volunteers to learn a bit more about what makes Dave so special. We hope you enjoy reading a little about a vollie who has made such a positive impact on the Gold Coast community. Thanks to Jane and Pat for sharing your memories with us!

Tell us a little about Dave.

When I think of Dave, I think of his willingness to help anyone and any situation. If I could describe him in three words it would be by his most common catchphrases; “it’s too easy” and “it’s no worries”. No matter the issue – a generator, hot water or safety precautions – his relaxed and conscientious attitude made our Gold Coast shifts run so smoothly. Beyond this, at his core, he is simply a great person with a magnetic personality. 

Do you have a moment or story about Dave that is particularly special?

Dave volunteered for five years and I can truly say that all moments, shifts and conversations have been special. He is just like that! But an important moment for us came during the first wave of COVID lockdowns. There was a lot of uncertainty, however, Dave did everything he could to support us starting our shifts again as early as we could. There were quite a few volunteers who weren’t able to return to shift, but Dave went the extra mile to ensure we could get back out there and help friends. He worked hard to set and follow all safety protocols on shifts, which alleviated fears. Despite the physical distance and barriers needed during those early COVID shifts, Dave still had a way of fostering connections with friends and easing concerns. It takes someone special to be able to form strong connections from a distance and at such complex times.

What type of connections did Dave facilitate on shift?

Dave’s personality is magnetic. What I mean by that is that within a minute, people feel like they already know him, and he them. Dave is so genuine and non-judgemental. It didn’t matter who walked on shift – their age, background, or what stage of life they’re in. He welcomed everyone wholeheartedly, and that connection was always reciprocated. Dave is a friend to everyone.

What impact has Dave had on the service?

We cannot understate the magnitude of Dave’s support for the Gold Coast shifts. Not only does he foster a wonderful energy, he is always willing to give things a go to keep shifts running. He managed all of our mechanical and technical components on shift while making people feel safe and heard. Dave is just a great guy who wholeheartedly emulates what it means to be an Orange Sky volunteer.

So, from the Gold Coast team and everyone from the Orange Sky family, thank you Dave. We are so grateful for your efforts and gift of time to our community! 

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Why Volunteering is Elliot's Favourite Part of the Week

Of the 2,000+ Orange Sky volunteers across Australia and New Zealand, no two volunteers are the same. Each volunteer brings with them a different perspective, a different experience, and a different idea on what it means to belong and feel connected.

Nineteen-year-old Elliot has been volunteering with Orange Sky for six months and has a unique perspective on what it means to be an Orange Sky family member. 

Elliot has Autism and an intellectual disability, which impacts his ability to read social cues and interact in social settings. However one thing that helps him to focus and calm his thoughts, is washing.

“Volunteering with Orange Sky means so much more to Elliot than what others could imagine,” Elliot’s mum Emma says. 

Elliot can find it hard to focus as sounds, lighting and other stimuli break his concentration and affect his mood in ways that most neurotypical people can’t relate to. 

As Emma explains, the sensory feedback Elliot receives from watching clothes spin around in the washing machine calms him.

“Since Elliot was a young boy, if we couldn’t hear him or he wasn’t in our direct line of sight, we would always know that he would be in the laundry watching the washing machine,” Emma said. 

Elliot’s passion is washing, with Emma telling us that going to shift is Elliot’s “favourite part of the week”. 

“Not only does it calm him down and bring him joy, but volunteering has also helped Elliot socially. His verbal and social skills have grown significantly since volunteering. It is a relaxed way for him to speak with other people and learn social skills, without it feeling forced.

“He is so excited to go to shift each and every week. It’s something he loves and it means so much to me and the rest of Elliot’s family that he is supported by Orange Sky to do what he loves.”

Elliot currently volunteers one day a week with our van on the Gold Coast, and plans to pick up a second shift with our permanently-fixed laundry pod later this month. 

Today is International Day of People with Disability, and we want to take this time to celebrate and thank Elliot for his contribution to the Orange Sky service.

Fellow Gold Coast volunteer, Melisa says the passion and energy Elliot brings to each shift really rubs off on the team. 

“Elliot and I have been volunteering together since he started with Orange Sky. We have built a really special bond and he’s certainly come out of his shell over the months – not only with the volunteering team, but with our friends too, which is really special to see,” Melisa said. 

“His passion for washing is like no other. Being able to see how much he truly enjoys coming to shift and being a part of it is really heartwarming.”

Melisa and fellow volunteer, Kerry have become so close with Elliot through volunteering with Orange Sky that they both attended Elliot’s graduation from Mudgeeraba State Special School last month (pictured).

International Day of People with Disability is aimed at increasing public awareness, understanding and acceptance of people with a disability. It is a day to challenge the way you think about disability and help grow a more inclusive Australia. 

We are so proud to have Elliot as part of the Orange Sky team and want to thank him for his passion and dedication to supporting our friends doing it tough.

Learn more about International Day of People with Disability

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