Homelessness Outreach Program Expands During Pandemic
Reaching out for help can be a difficult thing to do. So it’s important that, when you do, there is someone there to help.
Choosing to reach out has been an important theme in the life of central island resident, Kevin. And because of a United Way-funded program, he found it.
He first reached out in his 30s. He was divorced, living on the street, and knew he needed to make a change.
“I was starting to do stupid things when I wasn’t working to get the money to carry on partying,” says Kevin. “I’d already been in trouble, and so I had to make a decision: ‘Do I want to be in trouble all my life? Or do I want to smarten up in any way possible at the time?’”
He signed up for a treatment program to address his drinking problem. “And it worked,” he says.
Kevin was married twice more, and continued to work, including managing fruit picking crews in the Okanagan.
He supported his disabled stepson through the public school system. He experienced the passing of his third wife but made sure that her great-grandkids had memories of her before she died.
Those are some of the things he’s proud of, he says. There are various others that he’s not proud of, and says he wouldn’t encourage anybody to live their lives the way he did. Ultimately, he wound up retiring without the money to have a home.
But, when in need of help, he knew what to do.
Through organizations in the Oceanside area, Kevin now has a home. Not only that, he’s involved with supporting the community services that help him, and acts as an important connection for the homeless or the nearly homeless, and the services available to them that they may not know about.
One way he does this is by sharing his story of reaching out and getting help.
“It was a turning point in my life, and I was able to open up to others,” he says. “And, when you open up to others like that, you’re holding yourself accountable.”
One of the programs that have been there for Kevin is a homelessness outreach program. In response to the pandemic, and with support from United Way Central & Northern Vancouver Island, that service was able to expand, reaching out to more of the area’s homeless to be there for them in this difficult time.
UWCNVI directed funds from the federal government’s Emergency Community Support Fund to this program. But support from United Way means more than funding – we provide community development, communications and administrative support, research, expertise and real partnership to make these programs as impactful as possible.
That’s something Kevin has had a behind-the-scenes look at. One of his many jobs over the years was maintenance on a building where a United Way office was located. “It was just amazing to see how much work is going on in an office of United Way, to help out a chap like me in the end.”
“Keep your eyes open for the cry of help from the United Way,” says Kevin. “And that cry of help is not for their pockets. It’s to help your community.”
When you choose to donate to United Way, you are supporting the most effective charitable organizations where you live and helping your neighbours when they need it most. Please consider giving today.