Before there were 31 orange vans, trucks and pods providing free laundry and shower services; there were two mates who wanted to support people doing it tough. We’re winding back the clock 19 years to look at how these two friends built a charity and a team that has helped thousands of people since the first wash 7 years ago on October 10, 2014. 

From a young age, Nic and Lucas shared passions that made them a good team. Both tackled problems with curiosity and a drive to help others – each in their own unique way.

A typical weekend for seven year old Nic Marchesi would likely include a project of some type. His parents, Claire and Paul, speak of how he forever encouraged the family to fix or build things. He would spend endless hours in the workshop learning skills from his Grandad, and to this day, still loves a weekend building project (whilst singing the only song he knows the words to; the Bob the Builder theme song.)

On the contrary, Lucas was always trying to figure out ‘how things worked’. He was the type of kid who was mesmerised by every sport at the Olympics, watching each manoeuvre and trying to understand the rules and winning strategy. He also loved spending time with his siblings and his favourite toy dinosaurs. While Nic may have replaced the dinosaur as his best mate, Lucas’ love of family networks and problem solving has certainly endured.

In their teenage years, both Nic and Lucas volunteered for their school’s food van and learnt the value of helping others. Each week, they would visit Wickham Park in Brisbane (where Orange Sky’s laundry and shower vans now operate twice a week), and provide a hot breakfast to people doing it tough.

“We really enjoyed doing something simple to change someone’s day. When we started building our laundry vans, people thought we were crazy,” said Lucas. “We kept being told that no one would wash their clothes in a van.”

Telling Nic and Lucas something couldn’t be done was all the motivation they needed. This ignited them to put trust at the forefront of Orange Sky’s operations. “We don’t trade in showers, laundry or conversations, Orange Sky trades in trust and connection,” said Lucas. “Each day volunteers must build trust with friends, to wash their valued belongings, shower in our van or share a conversation”.

Becoming leaders at a young age could be daunting for some, but Nic and Lucas have known joint leadership before Orange Sky as co-house captains at high school – they even once led their house to win a school choir competition (yes, we have follow up questions!). While the stakes and responsibility may be much higher these days, their methods of captaincy back then are akin to the leaders they are today.

“I’d prefer to be known as a good conductor, rather than leader. While the conductor is out the front and guiding the musicians, the talent of the musicians is the real show. Our Orange Sky team is the same. Though Lucas and I began Orange Sky, each day it is the work of our staff and volunteers, which is the real heartbeat,” Nic said.

So what does Orange Sky’s 7th birthday mean to Nic and Lucas?

“Seven years ago, Nic and I never thought Orange Sky would be where it is today, thanks to all of the amazing people who have made up the Orange Sky’s community since our first wash,” Lucas said.

“On World Homelessness Day, we are reminded that there are still so many people doing it tough. Tonight across Australia, 116,000 friends are experiencing homelessness and many more experiencing disconnection. We know there is so much more to be done and Orange Sky’s future involves finding innovative ways to help more people. We know we can’t do it without you. So, thank you for trusting and believing in us.”

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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