Recently Department of Human Services staff member Reece teamed up with Orange Sky Laundry, to volunteer his time to run a laundry with a difference to help those less fortunate.
Orange Sky Laundry operates out of a van, washing clothes belonging to the homeless, and those unable to wash their clothes themselves.
Each van is equipped with a washer and dryer and for the most part just needs to hook up to a water supply, generally at a community centre or something similar.
“It’s just such a simple thing to do to help someone who’s struggling,” Reece said.
“People turn up at the van with their washing, and no questions asked, we wash and dry their clothes within an hour.
“In the hour it takes to wash their clothes, we sit down with our friends (the name for those having their clothes washed) and have a conversation.
“We talk about anything they want to talk about, and quite often they share their story about how they became homeless in the first place.”
Volunteering with Orange Sky Laundry has given Reece a perspective on life he may not have realised otherwise.
“It makes you think how lucky you are. Everything in your life can change very quickly,” he said.
“I was talking to a man who once lived in a nice house, in a nice area by the beach.
“Within a very short timeframe he lost his job, leading to the breakdown of his marriage, and eventually he found himself homeless.”
For Reece, volunteering brings a sense of satisfaction.
“I’d been volunteering for the Red Cross for a while. It makes you feel good,” he said.
“So when I heard about Orange Sky Laundry, I thought what a great idea. I made some enquiries and as soon as a van was available in the Wollongong area, I was on board to help out.
“It might seem like something simple for most of us, but the service makes a real difference in people’s lives.”
It’s a venture so successful, founders Nic Marchesi and Lucas Patchett, won Young Australian of the Year 2016.
“It’s not just for the homeless either. People in severe financial hardship also come to use the service. I spoke to someone who said it was a matter of eating or cleaning her clothes that week,” Reece explained.
“To encourage more participation, we usually park the van at a community centre, which provides meals for those who come to us.”
Not happy to stop with just laundry, Orange Sky Laundry are adding more services to help those in need.
“A couple of locations now have shower vans as well. Just the simplicity of having a shower can brighten someone’s day.
“There’s not one in Wollongong yet but it’s an initiative they’re looking to expand. It’s all about bringing more dignity to those who are already facing more than enough hardship.”
• Read more about Orange Sky Laundry.