John was used to living alone on the streets. He’d been out there on and off since he was a teenager and it felt quite natural to be bedding down in parks, under bridges, or wherever else he could find a dry space. However, as he got older, street life got harder but asking for help wasn’t easy.
“During my last winter on the streets I got pneumonia. I knew I had to do something, or I would die out there but, at the same time, I didn’t want to ask for help. I was just too proud.”
Then John met Jeremy, a Visionwest Outreach Worker. After listening to John’s story of leaving a gang, addiction, and homelessness, Jeremy took him to WINZ and told the WINZ officer, “We’re trying to find this guy a house. We’re gonna support him and do whatever we can to help him off the streets.”
“It was amazing to hear Jeremy talk that way,” says John, “and to feel like someone was going to stand up for me and provide support. To be honest, I didn’t really believe it … but it happened.”
A transitional housing space was found for John and then, within weeks, he was offered a Visionwest managed house in Swanson.
“Having a permanent place to call home changes everything about life. It gives stability and helps your health. You can plan for the future. For me it means I can have my grandkids whenever I want to. That’s what makes the weekend for me.”
John is known around his area as the lawnmowing guy. If he’s driving past a house where the lawns need attention, he’ll pull over and offer his services for free. He’s had some strange responses, but most people are overwhelmed by his generosity.
“I’m not the sort of person who expects help from others, I’m the person who offers help. So, when you’re suddenly receiving it, it’s not easy. But I’m blown away by Visionwest. Every person I’ve met goes out of their way to support me. It’s just so awesome to know there are people who believe in me.”
When John is asked where he thinks he’d be without Visionwest, his answer is to the point, “To be honest, I probably wouldn’t be here. Being homeless can be like being in a dark tunnel with no end in sight. But then, if you’re lucky, you see a light and you walk towards it. Visionwest was that light for me. Visionwest has been my light and I wouldn’t have the life I have without them.”