There are good ideas and then there are bloody brilliant ideas. Nic Marchesi and Lucas Patchett had the latter.
These two blokes were named Young Australians of the Year for 2016 after creating Orange Sky Laundry, the country’s first mobile laundry service for the homeless.
In July 2014, childhood friends Marchesi and Patchett, both 20 at the time, founded the not-for-profit service and named it after the song Orange Sky by Alexi Murdoch.
“The entire message of the song is about helping your brothers and sisters,” the duo state on the project’s website.
“These values are imperative to us and central to our project.”
In October of 2014, they officially put the project in motion.
With one old van, fittingly nicknamed Sudsy, a generator, water tank, and two 10 kg washers and dryers, the duo were off around town to clean clothes for rough sleepers.
They began offering their services near food vans and free barbecues so people could eat and socialize while waiting for their goods to get washed.
Less than two years later, Orange Sky Laundry has amassed more than 300 volunteers, expanded to aid more than 30 locations nationally, washed more than 70,000 kilos of free laundry and created thousands of hours of conversation among people from various communities.
“Orange Sky Laundry started as a simple idea from us two regular blokes from Brisbane,” said Patchett after accepting the award on Australia Day. “We wanted to wash and dry clothes for free.”
Though the idea was simple, the outcome proved far greater than they imagined.
“We can restore respect, raise health standards and be a catalyst for conversation,” he said.
“We have found a way to treat others the way they want to be treated.”
Not only does their mobile laundry service help the homeless, but they also aid areas affected by natural disasters, like last year’s Cyclone Marcia and the bushfires across Lorne and Apollo Bay.
The registered charity is funded by government aid and donations. A six-dollar donation provides one cycle of laundry.
On the Orange Sky Laundry Facebook page, Marchesi and Patchett shared a message of gratitude and optimism for their services in the upcoming year.
“We can’t wait to show you how we will make the most of this incredible opportunity as we continue expanding and connecting people across Australia and internationally in 2016 in a positive and genuine way.”
Ahhh, there’s nothing like two inspiring Aussie lads to make you feel proud to be an Australian! Good on ya fellas.