Orange sky laundry

My experience in the ACT community

I haven’t had a lot of jobs, but I’ve certainly had an unusual assortment.  From an optical mechanic, to a cushy government job and let’s not forget ordering headstones for war veterans.  I do like a challenge now and again. While I have certainly enjoyed elements of each of my jobs, largely I found them unfulfilling. People don’t want to wear glasses and of course no-one wants to die, so I didn’t really feel like I was contributing to society in any meaningful way.

By accident, I happened to start working for Beyond Bank. I had quit my previous job because truthfully I was bored and felt I could no longer grow there. I came across an ad for the bank in the paper and decided to give it a go (just to make my resume a bit more random).

Right from the get-go it was a completely different experience to any of my other jobs. I loved the fact that my job actually benefited the community. Not just the ‘hand over a cheque and smile for a photo’ type of help, but real ground roots stuff, assisting community groups get their programs and systems off the ground.  Helping these organisations and associations be self-sustaining so that long after their sponsors are gone, they are able to stand on their own.

Within my first two years I had worked with so many amazing community advocates, such as women helping other women to overcome the challenges of breast cancer. Not just the illness itself, but the toll it took on their body, soul and self-esteem in the process.  They helped them cope with their journey, process their feelings, visit them in hospital while undergoing treatment, connect them with other women who can understand and provide as much information as possible for all their options regarding surgery, reconstructions and prostheses. I found the experience of working with these remarkable women life changing.

Shortly afterward I had the pleasure of meeting some amazing mothers who had given birth to extremely premature children. I teamed up with a local hero Peter Cursley (creator of the Newborn Intensive Care Foundation) to raise funds for a piece of equipment that would go on to save the lives of many critical ill premature babies. The whole business got behind fundraising for the mobile humidicrib and I was so proud at how fellow staff members took it upon themselves to raise funds for these helpless and most precious members of society. With tears in my eyes I remember the babies I met afterwards whose lives were saved by this piece of equipment that came about through the love of people they would probably never meet.

Following this was my work on partnerships with Boundless and Orange Sky Laundry. Boundless is an all-abilities playground set on the foreshore of Lake Burley Griffin. Given as a gift to the children of Canberra for the Centenary it was designed to leave a lasting legacy to be enjoyed by children of all abilities well into the next century. As an all-abilities playground I love that it fosters inclusion and respect. I sobbed at the opening of the playground when the father of a beautiful young boy with Cerebral Palsy told us that his son was eight years old and had NEVER been to a playground.  This would be his first time. Ever. I thought of my own sons and how many hundreds of times they had been to local playgrounds and realised what a truly meaningful gift this playground was. It would become an equaliser of sorts for those children who had lived their lives on the sidelines watching other kids play.  Always watching. And now, for the first time, they could play side by side with their able bodied friends. More tears.

One of my most recent endeavours was working with the amazing crew at Orange Sky Laundry (OSL).  Orange Sky Laundry is the world’s first free mobile laundry service for the homeless.  It was started by the Young Australians of Year in 2016, Nic Marchesi and Lucas Patchett. In April of the same year, we welcomed our local van affectionately called “Dasher” to Canberra. Beyond Bank immediately signed on to support this wonderful enterprise. I love that it is so much more than just a mobile washing machine, it is also a meeting place for friends to get together for meaningful conversations. I have met the most interesting and wonderful people on my shifts with Orange Sky Laundry and I never fail to come home richer from the experience than the people who use the service.

I’ve now been working for Beyond Bank for approximately 15 years. In that time, I have married and had 3 children. I love the fact that my job is something that, like my family, continues to bring meaning and fulfillment to my life.  Knowing that each day I spend at work is benefiting the community in some way gives me an ongoing sense of achievement and pride to work for an organisation that truly does ‘Go Beyond’.