You could say I’ve had a rough go of it.

I was in prison for thirty years. I was never violent or anything…I’d robbed banks, and I paid for it. Three years ago, I got out.

Well, when they let you out after 30 years inside, you don’t really have anywhere to go. You’re on your own. I was 67 years old, and I ended up on the streets.

I was out there for three years, and I stayed in every shelter in town. First United was the best of them all. First off, the food is real good. And next, they let you stay inside during the day – they don’t just boot you out in the morning.

But the most important thing is that First United has good people who care. And that makes a difference. People who care, that means so much to me…That’s why I say First United changed my life.

Now, thanks to First United, I have my own place. The first place of my own in decades. It’s on the 5th floor, facing Hastings, and if I look over my balcony, I can see the church. It was all shiny when I moved in. Not a speck of dirt in the fridge or oven and brand-new paint. My apartment is my sanctuary.

Some days, I sit inside and I remember the hard times on the street. I remember how cold I was. I got COPD, and was in the hospital five times last year with pneumonia. My apartment is going to protect me from another case of pneumonia this year! That’s what I mean, First United really saved my life. I’m 70…I couldn’t do another winter on the street.

I want to be busy and keep active. In my spare time I do artwork and write poems. I want to be a good granddad to my two grandkids now. I’m bound and determined to do some good.

I say, ‘I’m not a senior citizen, I’m a senior survivor.’ With some support and genuine care, I was able to get up and over the hardest times. I’m really happy now. Man, I don’t know how I deserve it. Many people out here do. A lot of people here deserve a place like mine.

First United saved my life, and I’m so grateful to be where I am today. The good Lord put me here, in a way.

If you’re able to see it in your heart to make a donation today, you should know that you could change a life. I wouldn’t be a senior survivor without people like you. Thank you. I hope you and your loved ones have a very Merry Christmas.

Take good care,


Herb stayed in our shelter for a few months in the summer of 2020 after three years on the streets. At 70 years old, and more vulnerable to COVID-19, our staff knew that Herb needed a safe and permanent place to call home. Before winter came, we were able to provide him with an apartment in one of our affordable housing buildings. Now, Herb is safe and won’t get pneumonia from sleeping outdoors again, and is better protected from COVID-19.

Our donors provided the support needed to get him back on his feet. From providing him a space in our emergency shelter, to three square meals a day, to toiletries and hygiene supplies, and ultimately to working with him to secure him housing, all of this was possible with the help of our donors.

We support hundreds of others like Herb each year. Please, donate today to ensure we can continue serving our neighbours in the Downtown Eastside, like Herb. All donations up to $100,000 will be matched until December 31–that means that whatever you give will have double the impact!