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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