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22/08/18

Jazz day to help lighten the load for Orange Sky Laundry friends

Growing up, Erin Denham was taught it doesn’t take much to help others, so it came as no surprise the determined Sovereign Hills’ resident established a charity to assist locals in need.

“We said we’d support something in our own backyard. I did a lot of research and homelessness was definitely an area which needed help,” explained Erin who formed the not-for-profit- Make a Difference foundation.

In 2017, with community support, enough funds were raised to bring an Orange Sky Laundry van into service, providing a free clothes washing and drying facility to the homeless and disadvantaged.

More than 50 volunteers generously donate their time each week to run eight shifts in Port Macquarie, Taree, Laurieton, Wauchope and Kempsey.

“It costs approximately $6 to complete a load of washing and drying for one of our friends. Since the van has been in operation, there have been nearly 1000 washes which is fantastic. We need to continue to raise money locally to ensure the van remains viable.”

On Sunday 9 September, a MAD Jazz fundraising event will be held at Bago Vineyards, with four bands set to entertain the audience, including Blu Hypothesis, Big Band Theory, MacKillop College Big Band and the St Columba Anglican School Jazz Band.

“Agostina’s are providing a mouth-watering menu that can be complemented nicely with some Bago bubbly.” Donations will be accepted on entry.

The van and its many volunteers are making a huge difference to the lives of others, not only through clean clothes, but positive and non-judgemental conversations, explained Erin, who juggles her roles as a wife, mother, and founder of Make a Difference with her profession as Leader of Sport at MacKillop College.

“I have been fortunate enough to chat with some of our friends who access the service. They are so appreciative to have clean clothes and hygiene products, but more importantly to be able to restore their dignity, feel connected with the community and share positive conversations with others.”

Fellow Make a Difference committee members Jan Shepherd, Rob Denham, Karen Faichney and Megan Urquhart have joined Erin in setting new fundraising targets this year.

They’re also investigating the possibility of supporting the Orange Sky Laundry service with a mobile food van.

There are approximately 3,000 people on the Mid North Coast experiencing homelessness, according to Erin. “Unfortunately, with the increase in the cost of living, we are continuing to see an increase in the rate of people experiencing homelessness.”

The foundation is always on the lookout for corporate sponsorship and the Sovereign Hills Display Village was quick to answer the call, throwing its financial support behind the MAD Jazz event.

“We are proud to support such a worthy cause in our own backyard and commend Make a Difference for helping the most vulnerable members of our community,” said a display village spokesperson.

The MAD Jazz day will run from 10am to 3pm at Bago Vineyards. You can visit the Make a Difference Facebook page to stay up to date on this and future fundraising events here.