Saturday, February 27, 2016

238.2 - Hero Award: Nic Marchesi and Lucas Pratchett

Hero Award: Nic Marchesi and Lucas Pratchett

Still trying to start on upbeat notes, we have a Hero Award, something we give out here on occasion to someone who just does the right thing on a matter big or small.

This time, it's a joint award and it's going to two young Australians, Nic Marchesi and Lucas Pratchett.

In 2014 they came up with a simple but brilliant idea to improve the health standards of and offer some self-respect to homeless people in their home city of Brisbane. It began with an old van, a generator, and, most importantly, a washer and dryer. With that, they founded Orange Sky Laundry, a free mobile laundry service for the homeless.

The pair, who had previously worked in a food van to help feed those in need, realized there were mobile organizations that fed people, offered medical care, and so on, but nothing to help people maintain clean clothing. They set about to fix that.

In no time, the program expanded and now has five vans operating in 36 locations in five cities in Australia with the help of more than 270 volunteers, washing and drying over 350 free loads of laundry every week.

It's one of those things we don't often think about, one of the more hidden burdens of homelessness and poverty, that a simple thing we take for granted, like putting on a clean shirt, is something denied to so many.

Nic Marchesi / Lucas Pratchett
Does Orange Sky Laundry - the name came from the song "Orange Sky" by Alexi Murdoch - provide a home for the homeless? Of course not. Does it provide some dignity to the homeless? Absolutely.

In recognition of their work, Patchett and Marchesi just became the first-ever joint winners of the Australian of the Year Award.

Now they are talking about going global: They intend to introduce the service to Europe next month and the US later in the year, where it will no doubt be sneered at by some as just encouraging dependency.

Doesn't matter. Nic Marchesi and Lucas Pratchett are, without doubt, heroes.

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