My time so far as an Orange Sky intern has been one of the most rewarding experiences, both personally and professionally. After hearing about Orange Sky through a family friend, I was immediately intrigued by the organisation and their focus on creating a more inclusive community while supporting those doing it tough. I knew I wanted to get involved with Orange Sky and gain experience in this area – what I didn’t realise at the time is that it would take seven months to come to fruition.
After meeting with Orange Sky’s Chief Operations Officer, Mike Duggan in February, we developed a project and planned for me to start an internship. Unfortunately, like most things in 2020, it was put on hold due to COVID-19. In June, I emailed again with hopes to get things moving, but this time doing it alongside an internship subject for my final semester of my dual Social Science and Political Science degree. With a skill-based volunteering stream project needing to be explored, I began my internship in August (finally!).
Most of my time in the office has consisted of meeting the team and understanding how the organisation operates, working on the project, and continuing with my university research project. While I have learnt so much from my time at Orange Sky, I want to share the five major lessons I will take away from this experience.
1. No two days are the same, so being flexible is vital.
Orange Sky’s environment is certainly vibrant, and every team and employee works on an array of tasks. A revolving door of meetings, reports, presentations and communication with stakeholders creates a fast-paced and ever-changing environment. My methodical approach to uni – where I could plan out the progression of assessment – was turned on its head upon starting. I realise this is not limited to Orange Sky and is common in any job, so learning how to be adaptive but staying on top of tasks is highly beneficial.
2. It’s okay not to know the answer, so long as you know where to go to try and find it.
With many employees saying it took them months to find their feet at the organisation, my 12-week internship became slightly more daunting as it dawned on me that I would need to understand a lot in a short space of time. However, I soon realised the only way to feel comfortable and confident during my internship was to ask questions. I think most people in the office now have seen my head pop up as I start a conversation with “hey, I’ve got a quick question for you!”
3. Nothing, including almost four years of study, compares to real-life experience.
My answer to the question “Do you enjoy your degree?” has always been the same. “I love it, but it lacks real life experience”. My understanding of community development and non-profits stems from literature, theory and whatever teachings my university lecturers thought was necessary for us to know. However, upon starting my internship with Orange Sky, I soon realised how different theory and practice were, and how important real-life experience in your area of study is. My degree has helped me grow confidence in my researching and communication skills, but after just three weeks at Orange Sky, I already felt like I was building on transferable professional skills that I could use throughout my career.
4. Passion can be discovered.
During my project that focused on volunteering, I was unsure whether I would genuinely enjoy this research topic for the three months. However, after initial meetings with the Operations team and independent research, I quickly became quite passionate about this space. I continually wanted to explore more about how we could create the most positive environment for volunteers to ensure services are delivered to the best of their ability. I feel more confident now that I can find interest in topics I might have otherwise dismissed and make the most of opportunities that come my way.
5. When in doubt, remember the underlying goal of what you are doing.
As I tried to understand what decisions were necessary to make during my project, I quickly adapted the mindset of keeping Orange Sky’s mission, positively connecting communities, as my guiding light.
It’s simple, yet significant (and one that I feel passionate about myself) – so asking myself “How are my decisions contributing to this mission?” helped me when I was in doubt. For any task that might otherwise seem mundane, I found greater meaning and was determined to work hard because I knew it was contributing to something much larger and more meaningful.
For four years, I have learnt from textbooks about community development, about theories and theorists, and models of best practice when it comes to development. Yet for the entirety of my degree, I had no certainty that this space was really for me. This internship has helped me realise it is. Knowing each day that I am supporting an organisation that truly helps people has made these past few weeks the most rewarding of any job or experience I have ever done.
So, my advice for anyone thinking about interning? Do it. Put in the time to find a place that is meaningful to you and soak up the experience every day you are there. My internship was seven months in the making, but I can wholeheartedly say that every email, call and meeting to make this happen was worth it. Nothing in life worth having comes easy, so you need to work hard for the things that matter to you and make the most of it when it’s yours.
Want to learn more about what it’s like working at Orange Sky? Check out Alice’s reflection on her first month as part of the Volaby team.
Orange Sky Australia • 2020 • 17 Dover Street, Albion Queensland 4010 • (07) 3067 5800 • ABN/Charity ID: 85890622990 • We are a registered charity with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) All donations over $2 are fully tax deductible as a Deductible Gift Recipient by the Australian Tax Office
by Megan Groundwater
“It’s been challenging for everyone going back into lockdown in Melbourne, but even more so for our friends that we see on shift. Leading up to the lockdown, we were having lots of conversations with friends about what might happen, the uncertainty and where that would leave them with access to services, and the impending social isolation.
Those conversations were particularly important – hearing their concerns, acknowledging them, and staying upbeat and positive, reassuring them that whatever challenges lockdown would present, they would eventually pass and life would return to some version of normal. Many were agitated and anxious, but listening to them and acknowledging their perspective seemed to give them some comfort.
Some of our friends have told us they have been moved into hotels – which they have appreciated, but it is not without its challenges. Being around many other vulnerable people in the hotels has affected their anxiety levels, so ‘escaping’ that environment for a different type of social interaction has made our shifts and conversations they offer, a welcome experience.
I really feel a strong connection to the friends we serve on shift at the moment. There is a mutual understanding that we are all going through tougher times than usual, but that the conversations, the chatter and the jokes we share is so important to all of us to give us the strength and courage to get through to the other side – whatever that may look like!
We love seeing them every week, and knowing that they are in good spirits and doing ok. And I think they feel the same about the volunteers and each other!”
Denise has volunteered with Orange Sky in Melbourne for the past year and a half – normally with our shower van, Monty, but during COVID, she’s jumped on a laundry shift at Cleve Gardens on Wednesday evenings. We’re very grateful to have people like Denise as part of the Orange Sky team who not only support our mission to positively connect communities, but have empathy and understanding for our friends doing it tough.
Help us continue to ensure that our friends in Melbourne have a place to connect.
“Conversation is everything. Our stylists always have such a positive experience connecting with staff, friends and volunteers of Orange Sky. Our staff’s main focus at work is always connecting with our guests and the same goes for when our staff are supporting Orange Sky.
“We see a real difference being made when our hairdressers are able to contribute to positively impacting Brisbane’s homeless.”
Four years of cutting hair on shift at Ivory Street has meant that the team at Epic Hair Designs have a made a difference in the lives of more than 6,000 friends.
A haircut might not seem like much, but it can make the world of difference to how our friends feel about themselves. Walking away from a shift in clean clothes, after the chance to have a shower, a haircut and a conversation, can mean so much to a person who might often miss out on everyday basics and human connection.
As with Orange Sky’s volunteers, Epic Hair Designs acknowledges the special relationships that form between their stylists and our friends on shift.
“Our stylists have such strong relationships with their guests, so being able to make sure our guests continue to be looked after is fantastic. Our teams also have such a strong bond with each other, Epic Hair Designs is a big family so we are grateful our teams are continuing to learn and do what they love.”
In fact, some relationships are so strong that friends will often stop by for a chat, even if they don’t need a haircut. The team told us, “There’s always a bloke who sits down for a haircut every fortnight despite not needing one just to take advantage of a chat – which we think is lovely.”
The Epic Hair Designs team loves that they can make such a difference, doing what they love and supporting Orange Sky and our friends on the street along the way. Although they haven’t been able to get out on shift since the COVID-19 pandemic, they are hoping to be back later this month – watch this space!
You can learn more about Epic Hair Designs here.
If you enjoyed reading about how the Epic Hair Designs team supports Orange Sky, we think you’ll love this story about The Streets Barber in Geelong
“I really want to work with homeless people when I grow up. I only found out about homeless people and why people are homeless this year and it made me really sad. When I go to Adelaide, Mum lets me talk to homeless people near Rundle Mall and sometimes if I have some money, I give them some to buy something to eat. I hope that when I am 18, Orange Sky is still going so I can come and work with you.”
We’re lucky enough to receive a lot of messages from young people – like Archie – who just want to find a way to help. It’s one the best parts of working at a place like Orange Sky where big dreams and crazy ideas come to life.
For Archie, it all started on a trip to Adelaide with his Mum, Jayne.
“Arch noticed a homeless person for the first time. He asked lots of questions [and] we talked about the kinds of things that can lead to people being homeless, such as drug and alcohol abuse, loss of employment, domestic and family violence, mental health, and breakdowns of relationships.
Driving home a few hours later, Archie suddenly burst in to tears. When I asked what was wrong, he responded with ‘I just can’t believe someone’s family would turn their back on them, and they’d have nowhere to go.’
Over the next couple of months, there were often discussions about homeless people and what Arch could do to help. Every time we went to Adelaide, where we often had a treat for lunch, he would ask to forego his lunch, and donate the money instead. I tried to talk him out of this, but over time his logic and determination to help others would win, and he would skip off with $10 in his hand to find a homeless person to help.”
With a passion to support people less fortunate than him, Archie had a big idea.
He wanted to build a free laundromat for people experiencing homelessness, but his vision didn’t stop there – he wanted to offer clean and dry sleeping bags for people to swap out, and employment opportunities for those doing it tough to provide laundry services to the community. Not a bad plan for a nine-year-old!
Like any innovator, Archie knew not to re-invent the wheel, and after hearing about Orange Sky and what we do – he decided that he wanted to come and work for us instead.
“All he wants to do is talk to the people doing it tough, hear their stories and work with them to help make their life better. He was gutted when he found out that you had to be 18 to [volunteer] out with the vans,” Jayne said.“He wanted us to donate as much money as we could, so we talked about ways he could make money to help out Orange Sky. He decided he would collect bottles and cans (worth 10c per item in South Australia) for recycling, do jobs for people, and ask people to donate their small change.”
“All he wants to do is talk to the people doing it tough, hear their stories and work with them to help make their life better. He was gutted when he found out that you had to be 18 to [volunteer] out with the vans,” Jayne said.
“He wanted us to donate as much money as we could, so we talked about ways he could make money to help out Orange Sky. He decided he would collect bottles and cans (worth 10c per item in South Australia) for recycling, do jobs for people, and ask people to donate their small change.”
When Archie contacted us, he was just about to start an Everyday Hero fundraising page with the goal of raising $1,000 for Orange Sky by his 10th Birthday in May.
Every weekend, he did jobs for others, ranging from gardening, car washing and pool cleaning, right through to picking up dog poo (his least favourite, but highest paying chore). He collected bottles and cans, sorting them and taking them to the recycling depot every couple of weeks, and was humbled when other people began donating their bottles and can takings to his cause.
By his 10th birthday, Archie had raised $1,509.32 for Orange Sky.
To put that in perspective, Archie’s hard work and persistence helped to provide five entire shifts of clean laundry, warm showers and genuine connection for our friends doing it tough.
Jayne said that even though the fundraiser had ended, Archie was still collecting bottles and cans to support Orange Sky and wants to keep raising money until he is old enough to volunteer in eight years time.
“We were blown away by how hard he worked, forgoing many things he would have liked to have purchased with pocket money that was instead given to Orange Sky,” Jayne said.“We are super proud of him and hope that he never loses the desire to help out people doing it tough.”
“We were blown away by how hard he worked, forgoing many things he would have liked to have purchased with pocket money that was instead given to Orange Sky,” Jayne said.
“We are super proud of him and hope that he never loses the desire to help out people doing it tough.”
Today on International Youth Day, we wanted to celebrate the contribution of young people like Archie in our community.
The theme of International Youth Day 2020, ‘Youth Engagement for Global Action’ seeks to highlight the ways in which the engagement of young people has a meaningful impact in communities across the world. You can learn more about International Youth Day here.
If Archie’s inspired you to set up your own fundraiser, you can set up your own event page here.
It was a bleak, winter night in Parramatta but we had been having fun with several friends who had warmed themselves with a BBQ dinner, hot showers, freshly cleaned clothes and lively conversation. We had started to get ready to pack up, waiting for one load of clothes to finish its drying cycle. A few friends remained chatting with volunteers but there was one man seated alone on an orange chair. He was quite an old man, well into his seventies I think, and he looked lonely sitting there by himself. I decided to sit down beside him and see if he wanted to chat.
It was pretty obvious from the outset that he spoke little English. He pointed to the van and I understood that his washing was still in the dryer, which was obviously why he was sitting, waiting. Through a combination of a few English words, hand signals and a trusty iphone, I soon learned that he had come from Syria and was staying with relatives while trying to figure out where to live.
He animatedly talked about the dangers of living in Syria and the everyday terror of living in a war torn country. He showed me photos of several of his children who were dotted all over the world. His eyes filled with pride over the beauty of one of his daughters, and the fear was etched on his face when he showed me one of his sons, who must have still been in Syria. It was an extraordinary conversation, made so much more special somehow by the absence of a shared language.
After about 15 minutes, a volunteer who had been helping with tidying up around the van came up and spoke to me and asked if the man spoke Arabic. Of course he did! I’d been struggling to communicate for 15 minutes and here was a young woman who could speak the man’s language!!! I was then able to ask so many more of my questions and find out so much more about his life. He asked us about Orange Sky and what we all did. We all chatted and laughed about nothing and everything.
Another of the volunteers removed the man’s belongings from the dryer and put the still warm clothes carefully into the man’s shopping jeep. The man spoke softly to the volunteer who spoke his language and said, “you people provide a beautiful service”. He pushed his little jeep forward and shook hands with each of us, then waved goodbye as he walked away. It struck me that this interaction typifies the magic of Orange Sky, the basic but respectful act of washing someone’s clothes, engaging with them in simple yet powerful connections, and parting company from them knowing that they, and you, are enriched by the experience.
Help to positively connect some of the 116,000 Australians doing it tough.
Having some time on my own, I have begun to think about all the great people in my life who I had wanted to catch up with but had been too ‘busy’ to do so. Whilst being isolated, I have found the perfect opportunity to call these people up to reminisce and get an update of what has been happening in their lives – something I may not have done if hadn’t it been for all this pesky isolation! In fact, one of these calls turned into an online games session (that lasted for hours) and left as all laughing and feeling much more connected.
In a world were we are addicted to being busy, doing more and accomplishing more – I have found it super refreshing and highly valuable to take time away from ‘doing things’, and instead spend time listening to my own thoughts, thinking about where my life has been and what I am thinking of next.
Some of these thoughts were more surprising than I expected! Without getting too philosophical, it’s helped me connect with myself a little more, which has (ironically) helped me connect with others around me more authentically – and for that I’m thankful!
There is a law of physics that says, ‘energy cannot be created nor destroyed’, instead it just changes and takes shape in different forms. I like to think that this is a pattern in nature, and the same stands true for positive experiences and opportunities – they never go away, they just take different forms and may require us to step back and look at things in a new light to see them again.
Being isolated shouldn’t mean a loss of connection, it just gives us an opportunity to connect differently.
by Ben Knight
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 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.
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!
“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.
I am writing this letter in May, 2020 and it’s during a time quite like no other! (Well I say that, but I don’t really know what our life will be like in the future.) As I write this, I am fortunate to be working from home and sitting next to me (also working) is your beautiful mother, Natasha. We have been doing this for the past eight weeks and miraculously we have fallen into a seamless routine of a morning walk, coffee and then straight to the home office for non-stop meetings and work. It wasn’t always this way.
You see, there is a virus in our community which has changed life as we know it. It wasn’t that long ago where we would all be out and about travelling, connecting and enjoying new environments and opportunities. But the introduction of coronavirus has meant that connection doesn’t quite look how it used to. Shops, cafes, bars and workplaces are for the most part closed and where we used to hug, handshake and high five, we now stand 1.5m apart and connect behind the safety of face masks and hand sanitizer.
One thing I have learnt from these past few months is just how much I miss the opportunity of connecting with those around me. Be it friends, colleagues or even strangers at the coffee shop. A simple conversation can be so powerful, and now that it’s missing, I have suddenly realised that I took it for granted. Working for Orange Sky, I should have known just how special a conversation is, for I have had so many while sitting on orange chairs at shift.
For a moment in my day, I could sit and look someone in the eye and talk about anything. Over the years, I have had so many amazing chats and I honestly believe they have helped shape my views on the world in so many different ways. While we might now have to stand a little further apart, continuing this conversation and connection is so important and I am proud to be part of the team that makes this happen every day.
I don’t know what the future is going to look like or where Orange Sky is going to be, but one thing I do know is that the power of people and connection is going to be more important than ever before. I am going to do my part by continuing to sit on those orange chairs and share stories or jokes (you’ll get to know soon that Dad jokes are my speciality!), and for a moment in someone’s day, truly connect in conversation.
Levi, if you are anything like me, I hope you always find a way to keep that conversation going.
Reconciliation is important to me because without it, reaching an equitable and harmonious Australia will be less likely. The beauty and strength of our country needs to be reflected for and among all its people, not only some.
For me, reconciliation means acknowledging and doing our bit to right the past. It’s about coming together, getting to know one another and working alongside each other now and into the future.
It’s about keeping equity in the front of our minds at all times, which means sometimes we should preference others voices over our own or step aside to let others come forward.
While Orange Sky’s focus is on providing a space for connection through our laundry and shower services, we are committed to providing employment opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It’s important that we work alongside employees to provide a locally appropriate service and help to improve health and well-being outcomes for the community as a way of working towards reconciliation.
During Reconciliation Week and beyond, I encourage you to learn and grow your understanding by reading, reflecting and talking with others, and acting at all times to build an equitable and positive future for all.
At Orange Sky, we’ll continue to provide ways for staff and volunteers to learn, grow and act on reconciliation to help improve outcomes for Australia’s First People.
Here’s some resources we’re diving into:
Learn more about Reconciliation Week
The truth is, there are a thousand different ways to do it! We’ll give you a toolkit with some fun and out of the box ideas, so it won’t even feel like you’re hosting a fundraiser. We’ll also be here to support you the whole way through and keep you going when you just don’t think you can wear those socks for a third day in a row!
You’ve hooked people in with your clothes, but what next? A big part of experiencing homelessness is feeling disconnected from the community, and that why conversations are so important. The idea is that your outfit starts conversations – and in turn, raises some much needed funds for Orange Sky.
Your choice of clothing is totally up to you. You can keep your kit on in one of our event t-shirts (that we’ll send you when you sign up), the comfiest outfit in your cupboard or something that screams ‘I am doing The Sudsy Challenge!’ like a space suit or tutu.
Receive an impact report quarterly, detailing how your partnership has positively impacted the community (ie number of washes, showers and conversations)
As National Partner, we can create customised partnership T-shirts for your team, promoting our engagement and joint branding. These can be our uniform for joint events, fundraising and promotion.
At Orange Sky HQ, we will provide a dedicated co-working space for your team. This is an area for your team to feel part of the Orange Sky journey, collaborate on hack-a-thons and deliver customer meetings that highlight the partnership.
Vehicle Partners support the capital costs (33 percent to 100 percent) of Orange Sky’s laundry ($110k), shower ($110k), hybrid ($140k) or remote vehicles ($140k), for which they receive partnership benefits in return as outlined in Partnership Benefits matrix.
National Sponsors commit to donating between $200k – $500k p/a for a minimum term of three years, for which they receive partnership benefits in return as outlined in Partnership Benefits matrix.
Principal Partners are businesses, individuals, institutions or organisations who commit to donating $500k and above p/a for a minimum term of three years, for which they receive partnership benefits in return as outlined in Partnership Benefits matrix.
State partners commit to donating between $100,000 – $200,000 p/a for a minimum term of two years, for which they receive partnership benefits in return as outlined in Partnership Benefits matrix.
An exclusive once a year Orange Sky event that brings together our network of partners, innovators and change makers in the business community. It’s an opportunity to network and collaborate with like-minded individuals as we tackle an Orange Sky challenge and hatch new ideas that will help Orange Sky continue to positively connect the community.
We will work with your corporate and social responsibility team to create a workplace giving program.
Working with your Orange Sky Partnership Manager, we will work to create a launch that encompasses your network, stakeholders, community, staff or all of the above. We have had immense impact in the media, industry and community through our creative approach to raising awareness – let us take you on that journey.
Through your unique partner portal login, you will also receive an Annual Impact Report which includes recognition of the partnership, statistics of contribution and how it has impacted the community.
We will supply you with ‘Proudly supporting Orange Sky’ or ‘Proudly supporting www.orangesky.org.au’ logos for your company marketing or event material.
Download a monthly newsletter with details on the direct impact that your contribution is making in the community. Your electronic report will arrive in the form of a co-branded email; a great tool to share with your staff, stakeholders and customers allowing them access to the most up to date information on how you are supporting our friends doing it tough.
Every partnership is a relationship and our mission at all levels is to stay connected. That is why your business will be assigned an awesome Orange Sky manager to keep you up to date on the partnership, our joint engagement and your impact. It’s important to us that you understand just how important you are! We will work with you and support you to identify and create beneficial opportunities to continue to maximize the relationship.
A regular communication on Orange Sky news, events, impact and growth. Can be sent to any number of your staff, customers, partners or community.
Access to leadership team and Orange Sky founders for professional development days, networking events or ideation sessions.
Tailored to your messaging needs, a video capturing our joint partnership produced by the Orange Sky creative team. This case study is a great tool to for internal or external use (ie. end of year reports, company functions, website, social promotion, reception loop etc)
Principal Sponsors are businesses, individuals, institutions or organisations who commit to donating $500k and above p/a for a minimum term of three years for which they receive sponsorship benefits in return, as outlined in Sponsorship Benefits Matrix.