Two friends in Australia came up with a genius idea to help provide a sense of self-worth to people living on the street.
Lucas Patchett and Nicholas Marchesi, both 21, pack washers and dryers into the back of their van, and drive around Brisbane offering free laundry to people in need. Thanks to funding from the government, corporations, and the community, the pair has gone from one city to five and from two founders to more than 400 volunteers, Marchesi told HuffPost.
And that's in a matter of less than two years. Plus, they've reached an estimated 10,000 people -- and are showing no signs of stopping.
"We wanted to find a way to help people," co-founder Marchesi told The Huffington Post. "Through washing and drying clothes, we’re able to restore respect and dignity for people who are homeless."
"We want to roll out our service to homeless people around the world," Marchesi said.
When a load of laundry can cost an estimated $10 to get cleaned, having that extra cash to spend on more pressing needs, like housing or food, can go a long way when you're homeless.
But with more than 100,000 homeless people in Australia, according to Homelessness Australia, it’s hard to meet the overwhelming need.
"It's been about a week since I last did some laundry," said Pete de Graaf, a homeless man who used the service, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. "Clean clothes are really important when you've got things to do."
One of the most important services they provide is the conversation, Marchesi said. When homeless people are often stigmatized by the general population, having a genuine, warm chat can have a significant impact on their mental health.
"You put a smile on my dial,” said Steve, a homeless client, according to a Facebook post from the organization. “The best way to have happiness is by talking."
The organization measures its success not only by the amount of people reached and loads washed, but also by the number of hours of non-judgmental conversations they've had, Marchesi said: over 23,000 hours and counting.
H/T The Guardian