Orange Sky Laundry: A Unique Youth Startup to Help the Homeless

Their daily life is a never-ending struggle. They have to worry about what to eat, where to spend their night, what to wear and how to wash their clothes. They are many and they do not only live in poor societies, but also in developed countries. They are the homeless people of the world, and their voices are unfortunately not always heard.

Another struggle that these people have to cope with is finding organizations that serve food, offer medical care and provide shelter. However, sometimes it’s the little things that mean the most. Fresh and clean laundry is one of the most comforting and pleasant things in life, but unluckily, these needy people have no access to it. That was exactly what inspired two Australian students from Brisbane to do something about that. The two friends Lucas Patchett and Nicholas Marchesi started Orange Sky Laundry, Australia’s first mobile laundry service for the homeless.

The pair decided to start this service after being inspired during an overseas trip. Once they got back to their country, they decided to stop wasting time discussing their idea and start taking action. They launched Orange Sky Laundry by getting an old white van and equipping it with a portable generator, so they can get power in public places. They also obtained two washers and dryers from supporters and donors, allowing them to wash up to 20 kilograms of laundry per hour. Watch the video.

It was not an easy task for Lucas and Nicholas to get the machines to fit in the van, but they managed to handle all the technical challenges they faced with the help of some friends, contributors and many volunteers. “We are run by volunteers”, explain the founders of Orange Sky Laundry. “We want to harness the energy of 18-30 year olds who are keen but struggle to find simple ways to help people in need.” 

“We’re trying to link in with some of the morning BBQs and food vans offered by different groups around the city each day,” says Lucas. He admitted that approaching the homeless and setting up a schedule with them was to some extent, a difficult challenge, because most of them are hesitant and confused at first. However, Lucas and Nicholas explained that by starting a conversation with them, they can make them feel more comfortable and they eventually appreciate the service. Lucas said that he enjoys being able to sit and chat with interesting people as their clothes and blankets are being washed. “I was chatting with a guy the other day who used to be a chemical engineer. It’s just a very grounding experience to see how quickly things can go wrong for people.” says Lucas.

Lucas and Nicholas revealed that the name “Orange Sky” was inspired by their favorite color “orange”, which is also the title of a song they really like by Alexi Murdoch. “The song is about helping your brothers and sisters and Nic and I, not in a religious way or anything, but we live our lives by the golden rule of treating others as we’d want to be treated and living to help other people. Everyone deserves clean clothes, right?” said Lucas. The pair also explained that the greater mission of Orange Sky Laundry is to raise hygiene health standards in Australian communities, raise youth active awareness and respect, and encourage youth all over Australia and beyond to take similar actions with a philanthropic vision that can make a positive change in their communities.

In order to improve their service and promote active participation and youth engagement, the startup founders are planning to partner with local food groups, universities and other supporters, which they hope will help them operate not only in all streets of Brisbane, but also throughout Australia by the end of 2015.

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