What a whirlwind 2021 has been! Hugo and Hudson (and the soon-to-be-named third van) have had a huge year – as well as all of us living here in Aotearoa.

To say we’ve all been through a lot over the past 12 months would be an understatement – but I couldn’t be prouder to be part of the Orange Sky team. Every volunteer, supporter and friend has made our community stronger than ever; despite lockdowns, restrictions and temporary shift pauses.

Connection has continued to remain a core value at Orange Sky – and I have had the pleasure of making new friends this year, including Howie.

I first met Howie at a Salvation Army shift in West Auckland and this year, we have been able to celebrate him finding safe, permanent housing – after almost three years of living in his van. Howie shared with me how difficult the experience was – far removed from the fun and freedom of a short-term campervan holiday.

The best part is that even after finding housing, Howie still comes to shift – not for the washing, but for the connection. And if we’re lucky, he even cooks a boil up for the friends on shift!

As an essential service, we will continue operating throughout the holiday season and hopefully spread a little bit of joy through positive connection and conversations – at what can be a difficult time of year.

It just so happens that the shift Howie attends is the same one my Dad and sister volunteer at – so I look forward to celebrating with Hugo and Howie on Christmas Day at the Salvation Army. After shift, we will head north to join whānau at Warkworth, some of who we haven’t seen since the last Level 4 lockdown.

I wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you for being part of the Orange Sky community in 2021. After what’s been a huge year, I hope you are able to enjoy time with your family and loved ones over the holiday period.

Wishing you a Meri Kirihimete!

These holidays, help more people like Howie.

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