Natalie is the HR Officer at Orange Sky HQ. She loves home decorating, op-shopping and vintage inspired fashion, gazing longingly at shoes, being in or near the water and spending time with her family.

Each night, I snuggle up in bed with my seven-year-old and we talk about our day. Usually our talks are filled with tales of adventures of school ground mischief, occasional disagreements with our sibling and ping pong games.

However, since COVID-19 first hit Australian shores in January 2020, our world has slowly been shrinking. Our trips to beaches, playgrounds and to visit grandparents have dwindled down. In place of sleepovers, we have Facetime calls. Instead of playgrounds, we build cubby houses out of blankets. Instead of bike rides, we jump on the trampoline in our backyard.

So here we are after more than a month of isolation and I’m preparing myself for our usual nightly conversation. As the days have started to blur, I decided to not just to ‘summarise’ our days and what we liked the best, but rather to shift our conversation to what we are most thankful for.  

I thought I would share with you all what I am most grateful for at the moment.

More time

Since mid-March, Orange Sky has asked all employees who are able to work remotely to do so.  It might not be much, but skipping the commute has given me extra minutes every day; minutes I can spend on my own family, on myself or getting that final thing done for my Orange Sky family.

My husband and I, in that first week where we were both found ourselves at home but still sending the kids to school and daycare, got to have the first walk by ourselves in SEVEN YEARS! We walked every day that first week and actually got to have a conversation that was not interrupted by children saying “excuse me, excuse me, excuse me!”  Yes we spoke about the kids (a lot), but we also planned out future travels, our career paths, our hopes and also our fears. Even speaking about the scary, unknown times ahead made everything feel just that little bit better. As the old saying goes – a problem shared is a problem halved.  For that I am grateful.

My health

On March 26, I woke up with a sore throat. I was terrified. Could I seriously have contracted this virus so quickly?  We immediately pulled the kids out of school and daycare.

Never have we ALL been more aware of our breathing.  Even my husband, who is normally super calm, has said to me, “Every once and a while I will sit there and just ‘check’ that I can take a deep breath.”  Now, I am a bit of a hypochondriac at the best of times, but I am thankfully my slight cold-like symptoms resolved within 48 hours after resuming my hayfever tablets.

Our Home

Small business owners have resurrected their previously-failed fruit, vegetable and eggs delivery service, local butchers are delivering meat packs and cafes and restaurants have switched to takeaway. Even our local family-owned IGA is available to us within walking distance through a secluded shaded pathway, so for weeks we can get away without leaving our house and yet still have an abundance of high quality food… for this I am very thankful.

My Connections

Now, more than ever, I am also grateful for the connections in my life.

Grandparents who Facetime daily to read stories to my kids, my sister-in-law who bought us extra nappies when the shelves were literally being stripped bare, our neighbours – who we now catch up on our afternoon walks from across the street, and my personal trainer – who has shifted her bootcamps to online sessions five days a week (I’ve literally never been so sore in my life!). 

I am so thankful to have a strong network of people in my life who look out for me and give my life meaning.

But what about the people that don’t have these things?

All in all, this crisis has made me intensely aware of my privilege in having a safe place to hunker down, a roof over my head, good food, clean clothes and access clean, running water to wash my hands whenever I need to.

Our friends on the street who rely on Orange Sky’s services don’t have a lot of these things.

This pandemic marks the first time in the five years since Orange Sky was founded that our service was paused and we were unable to provide our friends with free laundry, warm showers and genuine conversation.

But thankfully not for long.

As we rejigged our safety procedures and found new ways to deliver our service whilst keeping everybody safe, we’re now more committed than ever to our mission to positively connect communities.  

The fact is though that I’m not on that front line delivering these services. Given that my own medical history and those of my children put us in the ‘high risk’ bucket, what – when trying to socially distance and halt the spread of COVID-19 – can I actually do?

I can help to #continueconnection by starting conversations with people in my community and spreading awareness about the work of Orange Sky.

I can also donate. As I sit here safe in my home, I can pledge to donate to Orange Sky’s efforts for as long as I have the ability to do so. Along with all the other things I am thankful for, I still have a job and an income and I can use this to help keep our vans running.

We are one community experiencing the impact of COVID-19 together – and we need your support to help us #continueconnection