A lot has happened since my journey with Orange Sky began almost three years ago. Growing up, I never thought that I would be so excited for my days to be filled with washing clothes (as I’m sure my poor mum could attest to!). Every day, I have something to look forward to, but still some days can be quite challenging…

This week marks 12 months since we pressed pause on both of our services in Auckland and Wellington due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It almost felt surreal; two and a half years of being out on the streets, seven days a week, building relationships and trust with our friends was seemingly undone by an invisible enemy in such a short space of time.

I’ve always been passionate about helping others and very aware of people doing it tough in my own community. That’s what drove me to help launch Orange Sky’s first ever laundry and shower van in New Zealand. I grew up in Manurewa, South Auckland, where a lot of people sleep rough on the streets and struggle to find stability and assurance in their life. Many don’t know where they’ll sleep at night or when the next opportunity for a shower or to wash their clothes will be.

That desire to help out our friends and ensure that everyone has a place to connect has fuelled Orange Sky’s recovery in a COVID-19 world. It’s hard to grapple with the idea of friends not being able to bring their washing to shift, volunteers not having a way to give their time, and supporters not being able to see their impact in the community. The second we paused shifts, we knew we needed to innovate and find ways to help our friends.

One year on, our service might not look the same as it did pre-COVID, but that unwavering commitment to support our community remains unchanged. From that very first shift back just four weeks after pausing our services, we’re now operating 24 shifts a week across New Zealand – more than we were before the pandemic. Just last week, we recorded the highest number of washes that we’ve ever done in a week at 153. This is a testament to not only the hard work of our volunteers, but support from our amazing community.

On shift in Auckland this week, I had the chance to catch up with Terry; a long-time friend who previously used our services. I’m so thankful to share that during the pandemic, Terry was able to find accommodation and have a safe place to sleep at night, but I’m also just as thankful that we now have the opportunity to sit down on orange chairs on shift and catch up on life, just like we always have.

The decision to pause services will go down as one of the toughest times in our history, but it’s moments like this on shift when I’m reminded of exactly why Orange Sky exists.

We believe everyone deserves access to basic hygiene, as well as a place to feel welcome, included and connected. If you’d like to support Orange Sky and the work we do, you can do so in a number of ways. We’d love if you could watch and share our video below, consider making a donation to Orange Sky or sign up to become a volunteer.

Help us ensure that everyone has access to basic hygiene

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