Coast man's rise from hitting rock bottom
LIVING from the boot of his car, turned away from a caravan park and any shot at housing, Keith was a far cry from his stable life in Sydney.
After his 33-year marriage broke down, Keith left behind his adult children, his job and his house for a life on the Sunshine Coast where everything started to "spiral out of control".
It's here Keith spent the better part of four years jobless and living in his car between brief stints in shared accommodation and temporary housing.
"Embarrassed" to ask for help, it wasn't until Keith worked up the courage to phone St Vincent De Paul support worker Sally Noble that the charity helped get his life got back on track.
Keith was still without a home when his current employer, Sunseeker Caravans owner Chris Mitchell, gave him the shot he'd desperately hoped for.
It was two weeks later Vinnies helped him secure and furnish a Mooloolaba unit where he lives one year on.
Keith said Ms Noble had told him to expect a two-year wait, he is grateful it took only nine months.
He attributes his new-found happiness "100 per cent" to his job and stable housing, but knows he is one of the relatively lucky ones.
The 58-year-old's time on the streets exposed him to a fraction of the 894 homeless people on the Sunshine Coast, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics latest data. Keith praises his employer for giving him a shot and Vinnies volunteers for helping to turn his life around.
It wasn't always easy to push through the knockbacks, but Keith encouraged others to not give up and reach out for help.
But to do that, St Vincent De Paul needs help from the community.
The charity is hosting the Vinnies Corporate and Community Sleepout Sunshine Coast on August 23 at the Maroochy Surf Club with a goal to raise $150,000.
Teams and individuals can register for the overnight event, and people are encouraged to bring warm clothes, a sleeping bag, blankets, basic toiletries and a "good sense of humour".
All funds raised will go towards homeless services on the Sunshine Coast region. So far 52 sleepers have registered, and 192 donors have raised $12,660.
Keith said without Vinnies, he wouldn't have been able to keep his "head above water".
"They bent over backwards to look after me, they give up their free time to help others," Keith said.
"It's just a big weight off my shoulders... it's a real struggle out there, I know the Sunshine Coast is a great community.
"There are a lot of homeless people, a lot of kids, but don't give up, keep going forward."
SHOW OR SEEK SUPPORT:
- To get behind the Vinnies Corporate and Community Sleepout, visit: www.communitysleepout.org.au/locations/sunshine-coast
- For assistance contact 1800 VINNIES.