It seems like all types of mobile service trucks are popping up these days – starting long ago with the beloved ice cream truck and more recently food trucks, fashion trucks and now…laundry trucks? It’s not your typical mobile service truck, but it serves a much greater purpose.
Two years ago, Lucas Patchett and Nicholas Marchesi of Australia founded Orange Sky Laundry using vans with custom-fit washers and dryers. Its purpose: to provide free laundry services for homeless people so they can have clean clothes and save up to $10 for food and housing that they would’ve otherwise spent at a Laundromat.
The service works five days a week, and in time with homeless food vans, which allows volunteers to wash clothes while their customers eat. Since their founding two years ago, they have expanded their business across Australia to five cities with more than 400 volunteers.
The team just expanded into Adelaide, launching a new van called “Peggy,” and Canberra and the Sunshine Coast are next on the cards. “Meet Peggy, our brand new van for Adelaide/ Every single night, over 6000 people find themselves homeless in South Australia. Peggy will provide lots of washing and conversations with this community,” Orange Sky Laundry wrote on Facebook.
The company also believes it is important to encourage conversations, with their friendly volunteers making chatting with homeless people a priority. “You put a smile on my dial, the best way to have happiness is by talking,” Orange Sky Laundry user Steve said.
In the United States, a similar mobile laundry program was launched in Denver, Colorado:
Marcus Harris knows the value of clean clothes. Having been homeless himself, he also knows what harmful assumptions a dirty shirt can have for anyone fighting their way out of poverty. Harris is currently at the helm of the Laundry Truck, a new project from Denver’s Bayaud Enterprises which has transformed an old truck into a mobile laundromat to serve Denver’s homeless.
This seemingly simple tool could have powerful implications for people without access to clean clothing. “Providing a service like clean clothes at no cost goes a long way toward cultivating a more positive self-image for people who are routinely ostracized,” Harris said in an interview with Denver’s ABC 7 local news.
Denver’s homeless currently only have access to four facilities for laundry, all with restrictive hours and usage limitations that prevent many of the people who need it most from using it. According to Bayaud’s website, the truck will be open three days a week, eight hours a day its first year, with a projected 8,250 loads.
The Laundry Truck also has expansion plans, and according to ABC 7, hopes to one day add mobile showers, haircuts and job training. For now, as Harris explained on ABC 7’s tour of the laundromat in progress, “Right now, the air conditioner needs work, the windshield needs cleaning…it’s kind of a beast right now, but we’re going to turn it into a beauty, I guarantee you.”
9news.com.au: Australia’s first mobile laundry for the homeless expands to wash clothes for those in need in Adelaide
Alternet: The Laundry Truck Offers Denver’s Homeless Clean Clothes and Dignity