Where did you grow up and who influenced your career choices?
I grew up in Newcastle, around the Lambton/New Lambton Area. My mother has been the biggest influence in my life, showing me what hard work and determination can achieve for you and you family.
What did you do after school?
I went straight to University, with a string of terrible part time jobs, and started studying. I was in a different degree before I transferred to nursing.
I chose nursing after talking with Mum and my Nan. I wanted a career that would guarantee me a job, pay well and had room to grow.
What career progression did you have?
I started as an assistant in nursing, working at the old Royal Newcastle Hospital and Belmont Hospital. I then moved to the John Hunter Hospital, where I was a registered nurse for almost my whole nursing career, and then I transferred for a short while to be Clinical Nurse Specialist for Infection Prevention for Cessnock, Kurri Kurri and Dungog. After feeling very burnt out working in the busy and pressure filled hospital I left nursing to work with my husband. I worked beside him learning how the building industry works both on the tools and in the office.
Why did you start as a volunteer at Orange Sky Laundry?
A friend who was volunteering on the Central Coast introduced me to the idea. I was ready to get some of the interaction with people I was missing from nursing and ready for a new challenge.
What does it do?
We are a free mobile Laundry Service for the homeless but in the end having people walk away with clean clothes is the least of what we do. Sitting down on our orange chairs and having conversations is where the magic of Orange Sky starts as we work towards positively connecting communities to make real change to peoples lives.
What were the initial challenges in the role?
Learning to wear so many different hats at once! This is also something I relish, things are never stale working with Orange Sky. I can be running to a meeting one minute and head down in the Hunter trying to figure out why something is breaking (with the amazing support from our vehicle team and vehicle manager) and driving hunter to shifts. No two days are ever quite the same.
You are now Service Manager of the Newcastle operation. What does your average day look like?
It usually starts with answering emails, attending to anything that has happened on a previous shift and making sure we are right to go for the next one.
This could involve some quick fixes with help from the amazing vehicle team at HQ. Either driving Hunter (our van) to a shift or attending meetings to keep us running smoothly or out and about to scope new areas for our service. I am always on the look out for that next shift. Often I am out doing presentations to show people what we do in the Hunter region and find some more volunteers or holding Orangetations to start up some new volunteers. Every day is different and that's one of the reasons I enjoy it so much.
What has been the most rewarding part of your job?
Watching people's confidence grow with the dignity of being able to wash their clothes and being allowed to be one part of their story while they work to turn their lives around. One shift I met a beautiful young couple and their baby living in their car after a series of things went terribly wrong for them, watching and talking to them over a few weeks I was privileged to see them change their luck, find a place to live The smiles on their faces when they said they had found a place to live gave me so much more then I have ever given to Orange Sky.
[I love] watching people's confidence grow with the dignity of being able to wash their clothes, and being allowed to be one part of their story while they work to turn their lives around.Jordan Wallace
And the hardest?
Switching off, unlike nursing there is no hard and clear end to your day, and seeing as I love what I do so much its hard to walk away sometimes and leave things for tomorrow.
In your experience, are there more people doing it tough at the moment?
It does seem that way but I am also noticing how much everyone has to give, even when they seemingly are doing it really tough, this community is amazing to be around.
What has volunteering given you?
It has offered me another way to give back and help people, in an amazing supportive environment. Orange Sky is an amazing organisation full of people who are ready to help.
Orange Sky Laundry is looking for volunteers. What would you say to those interested?
Volunteering for Orange Sky will change your life. I know that sounds like a cliche! You will walk away from each shift having gotten more out of it then you will ultimately ever put in.
If I am ever feeling overwhelmed with what I have to do to,I know that this is the time I need to walk onto a shift and talk to people. I have never walked away from a shift not feeling energised, smiling and full of hope.