Helen Reflects on her First Few Months at Orange Sky

2022 saw four years of washing, yarning and positively connecting communities here at Orange Sky Aotearoa, such an exciting milestone! But 2022 was also a stark reminder that our services are needed now more than ever before, and to help deliver these services, a strong passionate team is needed at the core! 

To close out the year we want to introduce you to Helen, Coordinator for Friends and Volunteers! In her first few months at Orange Sky she has already hit the ground running, assisting with the launch of our fifth service in Hamilton, training new volunteers to be the very best they can for our friends, and always looking for new opportunities for connection and conversation in New Zealand. 

Helen shares a passionate reflection on the year that was, and looks ahead at the new possibilities for 2023…..

“My first few months at Orange Sky have been a roller coaster. I have days when I think I have understood everything and other days when I wonder if anything will ever make sense. But I love the pace, passion and enthusiasm of all the teams. 

My three weeks in Hamilton to roll out a new service a few weeks into the role was a massive learning opportunity and so much fun. My biggest achievement in the role so far would be helping Lisa and Belinda [insert their roles] build the fantastic team that we have in Hamilton. I love the volunteers we have found, they are truly incredible and we are so privileged that they chose Orange Sky to volunteer with.

Within my first few months at Orange Sky I am stunned at how great the need is in New Zealand. Having lived in Auckland for 15 years I thought I was pretty aware of the social situations but I really had no idea. It’s been very eye opening. 

Since the COVID pandemic, many people have lost jobs or are on reduced incomes, this means for some they can’t afford the rent or mortgage and the only option is to live in their cars or sleep rough on the street. So many of our friends have said they look forward to seeing us, to see a familiar friendly face. 

The showers are important in the city locations such as Ellen Melville in Auckland and the Lake in Hamilton, but the laundry services are so well utilised in residential areas. Launderettes are really expensive and in the recent very wet months even if the friends can wash, to get things dried costs them upwards of $20. That $20 could be spent on bread and milk and cereal for breakfasts. But most importantly the social connection that shift provides is invaluable.

In 2023 I am determined and looking forward to improving the current services in New Zealand and getting them working well and then building on the New Zealand structure introducing more services in the community. Exciting to think where we will be able to help more friends next year in New Zealand.”

Orange Sky thanks our staff, volunteers, friends, donors and wider community for your continued support, and we look forward to sharing more conversations and connecting more kiwis than ever before in 2023!

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To Terry, From Eddie

“We all have hearts…. If you have a heart, love somebody. If you have enough heart, love everybody.” ~ Stevie Wonder

I can clearly remember the first time I met Terry. We had just launched our first van, Hugo and were parked outside St Matthews car park in Auckland City. It was cold, wet and 6am in the morning. Terry was actually bringing along a friend who needed to use our services, but he stuck around for a chat while he waited. 

As he and I were talking, we discovered that we shared a mutual love for Stevie Wonder songs. For years after that, Terry would come out weekly and visit the volunteers on shift just to connect, to pull out his speaker and play some 80s tunes for us to enjoy. 

Orange Sky Aotearoa recognises how lonely and isolating it can be for people doing it tough. Terry understood that too and he shared that same passion for connecting with others. He would always be the first to welcome any new person – whether it was a new volunteer on shift or someone using our services. At Orange Sky, we refer to anyone who comes along to shift as a ‘friend,’ and Terry was the first to make me realise that it was so much more than just a word.

It’s hard to imagine a world without Terry’s bright and gentle energy to keep us company, but I take comfort in knowing that he was surrounded by so many people that he had impacted and who loved him dearly. 

I am blessed to have called you my friend Terry, and do life alongside you for a time. I’ll miss our chats and having you out with us on shift. I hope to make you proud, and I’ll be sure to keep the Stevie Wonder tunes playing as a reminder of your impact on all of our lives.  


Terry’s legacy of unwavering kindness, acceptance and friendship will forever be a part of our service in New Zealand. Our hearts go out to Terry’s family, the Auckland team and wider New Zealand community of friends, volunteers and staff who had the pleasure of knowing and connecting with Terry.


Why everyone needs connection

These past few years have provided many challenges and hardships for kiwis all across the country. At Orange Sky, it’s not just been about providing laundry and shower services, but finding ways for our community to stay connected; despite lockdowns and restrictions impacting us all.

Selwyn is one of the friends who we’ve been lucky enough to get to know during this time. Although sleeping rough when we first met him, he was still able to blow us away with his incredible street art that you can find around Auckland. 

Selwyn has now found a place to call home, and even has his own washing machine, but still comes along to shift every Monday evening to catch up with the team. It’s such a simple interaction, but it makes me realise how important connection and community really is to all of us.

Selwyn is one of thousands of Kiwis experiencing homelessness, but many more are disconnected from their community and in need of your support. Orange Sky currently operates 34 shifts a week across Aotearoa through a dedicated team of over 260 volunteers.

There’s never been a more important time for our vans to be out in the community supporting our friends doing it tough, and providing a safe and welcoming space to connect. 

If you are in a position to support our mission – whether that’s by making a donation or giving your time to volunteer – you will not only be helping to keep our vans on the road, but allowing us to grow our services and support more people doing it tough. 

Learn more about how you can support Orange Sky

Thank you for supporting our mission to positively connect communities – we couldn’t do what we do without you. 

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Meet Selwyn: Why kōrero is more than just a conversation

When we first met Selwyn on shift in Auckland, he was sleeping rough – as thousands of Kiwis do each night. But it wasn’t just free laundry and shower services that he found at shift, he also found a place to connect…

“My name’s Selwyn Vercoe. I descend from the Ngāti Awa and Ngāti Porou tribes of Aotearoa. 

The Orange Sky service is important because it serves a lot of people who need these services – like having a shower and getting your laundry done. 

I’ve been here where people have lined up to have a shower and get their laundry done [and] waited till about seven o’clock… that’s when I realised how important [the Orange Sky service] is for our street people. 

It’s humbling to witness how [the volunteers] express their hospitality to the community. They never judge. [Friends] can come here and enjoy the hospitality without fear or judgement. A lot of our street people have been products of the environment, so it’s good to have this type of service in the community where our street people don’t fear judgement.”

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Selwyn was one of the 41,600 New Zealanders experiencing homelessness. Orange Sky was able to support Selwyn during this time in his life by providing access to free laundry and shower services, as well as a place for kōrero on our six orange chairs. 

Although Selwyn now has a place to call home, he is still a familiar face at our Monday night shift. It’s no longer about doing a load of laundry or jumping in for a warm shower, but he’s still there to access a service that’s essential to all of us – connection. 

As part of our mission to triple our impact for people experiencing homelessness and disadvantage across the Australasian region by 2025, we plan to expand our services in Aotearoa.

But we need your help to support more Kiwis doing it tough.

Everyone needs connection.

Please, donate today.

Help us grow our services and support more friends like Selywn

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