People with purpose: Wash and learn

Posted on 23 Sep 2023

By Greg Thom, journalist, Institute of Community Directors Australia

Ann Lambert 2

For Orange Sky volunteer Annmarie Lambert, ensuring homeless people have clean clothes via the free mobile laundry service is just a bonus. It’s the friendships she makes along the way that keep her coming back.

Why did you volunteer to help at Orange Sky?

I joined during (covid) lockdown.

I was feeling exhausted from teaching remotely and was looking for ways to engage with my local community.

That’s when I found Orange Sky was setting up a new shift in my local community.

Right from the start I knew this is where I should be giving my energy.

Working with great volunteers, a fantastic service provider and making awesome friends has been life changing.

How would you describe what you do?

I get to hang out with great volunteers doing amazing work.

I have deep and meaningful conversations with vulnerable friends and I help wash and dry friends clothes who otherwise would be wearing dirty clothes.

"Working with great volunteers, a fantastic service provider and making awesome friends has been life changing."

What’s the most pressing issue facing those you are trying to help?

Mental health is by far the most pressing issue.

The stigma, isolation and loneliness these friends experience is palpable.

Ann Lambert 4

What’s your most memorable moment as an Orange Sky volunteer?

We had a friend that we had been trying to reach out to for months.

On this one shift, he sat on one of our Orange Chairs and talked with us about his life.

He left saying he felt better and thanked us for listening.

He now says hello every week.

Why does an organisation like Orange Sky matter?

You would think it’s all about cleaning our friends’ clothes. It’s not!

It’s all about the Orange Chairs and the conversations.

The clean clothes are just an added extra.

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