WORKING at the Twin City Laundry Service was no ordinary job for Talitha Rahaley.
“It’s our work, it’s our lives, it’s what we do,” said Miss Rahaley, one of 20 disabled employees at the North Albury factory operated by Kalianna Enterprises.
For Jillian McCormack it meant something even more.
“It’s the first time I’ve felt I was part of society,” she said of her 18 months with the business.
“So to have that taken away is awful.”
A fire early yesterday, believed to be deliberately lit, has left 20 workers needing to be transferred to other Kalianna jobs and a damage bill likely to top $1 million.
The angry workers had counselling yesterday as they struggled to understand why anyone would want to wreck the not-for-profit operation, at the corner of Fallon Street and Ramsden Drive.
Miss Rahaley, who has an intellectually disability, has worked at the laundry for two years, folding sheets and other items for customers.
“Why would somebody do this to us?” the 30-year-old asked.
“I love it here, it’s just very upsetting that it had to come down to this.
“It really hurts us to have our place go up in flames, it’s really not fair.
“To have someone come in and invade our privacy makes us uncomfortable and really upsets us.
“I hope whoever did this is caught and punished.”
The laundry’s client services and operations manager Mel Robinson said workers couldn’t understand why someone would deliberately torch their workplace.
“They’re very attached to their work and primarily this has been a disruption to that,” she said.
“They love their jobs, it’s their social life, too, so for someone to do this is really distressing.”
Ms McCormack, who has a hearing disability, has worked at the laundry for 18 months.
“The job means a lot to me, it’s the first time in my life I’ve actually fitted in,” Ms McCormack said.
“I’m 56 years old and I actually fit in and I’ve never felt like that working before.
“A lot of the guys don’t like change, I think some of them are going to be pretty upset for a little while.”
Kalianna chief executive Oscar Gentner said the laundry service would rise from the ashes in the long term.
“But at this stage, it’s too early to tell how long that will be,” Mr Gentner said.
“It’s business as usual from our customers point of view, we will be able to do some of the work at another site but the majority will be outsourced.”
Mr Gentner said the employees had been given the rest of the week off and would be moved into other areas of employment at Kalianna Enterprises on Monday.