ChrisHancockweb2Meet Chris Hancock. He’s 38 years old, an avid hiker, backpacker and snowboarder. He has a job at Umbrella Society that never fails to bring a smile to his face. He has a supportive family and feels connected to his community. All, in all, he’s one happy man.

But, if you were to meet Chris in 2010, you might find him sitting in a bus shelter on Douglas Street, homeless, addicted and broke – not enough money to buy a bus ticket and with no particular place to go. In the space of five years, he had lost his home, his girlfriend, his family and his dream job due to his addiction to alcohol.

What happened to turn his life around? As Chris explains, “I certainly wouldn’t be where I am today without United Way funded services. They helped me physically, mentally, financially and found me a place to live. They gave me my life back.”

After numerous failed attempts at detox, it was a United Way funded agency worker, at Umbrella Society, who was the catalyst in helping Chris access the services he needed.

“Meeting someone who actually cared, showed me love and looked at me as a whole person, not just a single problem – was the reason I was able to change my life,” Chris says. “She was my guide. This wonderful person, who’s now my boss, knew which service I needed at every step along the way, and helped me access each one of them.”

“That’s the beauty of what United Way does…it funds a variety of services that collectively support people to truly get better.” And Chris knows first-hand the extensive network of services made possible through United Way. He secured his first job during his recovery via Cool-Aid’s REES employment program and found housing thanks to Pacifica Housing’s Street to Homes initiative – all funded partners of United Way.

Chris is an outreach and housing worker at Umbrella Society, sits on various Island Health committees and advisory councils, and is also involved with the Men’s Foundation House run by Umbrella. He regularly conducts workshops and teaches healthcare workers to see their clients and patients in a holistic sense – as people who require a range of services to help the whole person.

“Many people in our community don’t know how far-reaching the help of United Way is. It sees the gaps that exist and provides funding to close them so people have access to a full continuum of care on their path of healing.”

“People should know that donating to United Way means giving to the one organization that will make sure this entire city is taken care of. No other organization in our community does that.” And, Chris Hancock is living proof that it works.