I’ve been volunteering with Orange Sky for four years, since they started on the Sunshine Coast.

I’ve always realised that there’s a very fine line between any one of us and homelessness, but I wasn’t aware of how many people and the demographic. We meet women who are in domestic violence [situations], as Orange Sky does everywhere. We meet people who are camping in their cars, women who keep having to move their cars because it’s unsafe for them to be parked in places, and people who are doing it tough and living in flats where they have very little comfort.

It’s been a big learning curve for me in lots of ways, but I love it. I love it because it’s something that every person deserves. Basic conversation and connection between people and having clean clothes; that should not be something that people don’t have.

I think at its very base level, Orange Sky makes a difference. It’s a difference to the way someone feels about themselves. It’s a difference to someone – like one of our friends – saying, “you’re my family.” And when you speak to our friends, all they want is someone to treat them like a fellow human being. There’s an old saying, ‘be bothered.’ I think ‘be bothered’ everyone, be bothered to say g’day and to not step over someone.

With Orange Sky, I think it’s so true – the positive connections that people form. [Friends] don’t want to be bogged down; some of them like to share their problems, but a lot of them, they just want to be happy. They want to be around happy people. They want to share a joke. And I’ve learned so much… every shift I go home and I say to my husband, “Hey hun, do you know that just…”. Everything’s a learning thing, so I think we can learn from each other.

I teach 11, 12 year olds and they are really interested. They want to know the stories about what sort of people I meet on shift. I don’t share lots of personal stuff obviously, but kids want to know things and I think we have a responsibility as adults to teach our children that there are people from every walk of life who have circumstances that change their direction somewhat.

We’ve had lots of success stories here at Orange Sky. We’ve had people go on to get married. We’ve had people go and find jobs. We’ve had people who find their way and then move on and that’s a lovely thing. You can make a difference, if you’re bothered.

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

Help us make sure an orange chair is there to support our friends these holidays. 

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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