In mid-November 2023, an individual experiencing homelessness, living on the streets, came across an advertisement for part-time positions in our new Co-mingle program and expressed interest in joining our team.

Within just two of the initial three-hour shifts during his first week, our supervisors identified his remarkable qualities—he was a quick learner, a hardworking individual, and an excellent team player. Most significantly, he exhibited a genuine ability to connect with our daily customers at the depot. Recognizing his potential, he underwent more in-depth training within two weeks and was subsequently promoted to a customer service role, responsible for accepting refillable containers from patrons entering the front door.

Rapidly transitioning from two shifts of three hours per week, he secured a spot on our permanent weekly schedule, working five days a week with shifts extending to 5.6 hours. Concurrently, United We Can reached out to various social housing agencies in an effort to secure permanent housing for him.

By December 15, 2023, he had successfully secured his own recently remodeled Single Room Occupancy (SRO) residence, conveniently located near our depot in the Downtown Eastside (DTES). When the staff at UWC proposed the idea of opening on Christmas Day 2023 to provide our customers with a place to redeem cash refunds for their containers and enjoy a hot cup of coffee, he was the second person to volunteer. United We Can had become his local family, and he was eager to contribute to the community.

In a subsequent update, he completed his forklift training, became a valued member of our safety committee, and, in early January 2024, achieved a well-deserved promotion to a supervisory role. His journey exemplifies the positive impact that opportunities and support can have on individuals facing homelessness, turning their lives around and fostering growth within our community.