At 54, Boyd Vankoughnett is starting over.
Originally from Alberta, life hasn’t been easy for Boyd. He raised his three children alone, holding down a string of jobs that included labouring and cooking. In 2019, once his children were grown and independent, he decided to take a food service job in the Okanagan. As a single parent, he never accumulated much in savings so when the job fell through without any pay, he was worried. On the advice of a friend, he made the trip to Vancouver Island in hopes of finding steady work and a place to live.
COVID-19 and its associated restrictions arrived around the same time as Boyd. Jobs were scarce in the food industry and the limited housing available was unaffordable to him. In March 2021, Boyd found himself without medication for his painful back injury, sleeping in a tent in Lake Cowichan. Desperate for shelter and with limited mobility, he made the trip to Duncan and arrived at the gates of Warmland House in April, weary from cold and pain.
Boyd was given food and shelter the first night he arrived. He credits the staff at Warmland for helping to get him back on his feet and says “the staff here have been wonderful”. Three months later he’s received the medical attention he needed for his back injury by connecting with Warmland’s physician and he has moved into one of Warmland’s 24 transitional apartments.
With the help of Warmland’s Client Support Worker Jason Bell, Boyd is now receiving a disability allowance and has received the medical support he needs for his back injury. Jason says “Boyd is very easy to work with and is focused on attaining his goals. I’m glad I could be a part of that.”
The transitional housing is affordable, and he is able to rent for up to two years, allowing him ample time to complete his training and get back on his feet. Opportunities to secure transitional housing are based on commitment to a personal growth plan (Moving Forward Plan) developed in tandem with CMHA Cowichan Valley Branch (CMHA-CVB) staff. Boyd is happy to continue taking his meals in the Warmland dining room. “The food is great and I’m very grateful to be here”.
When asked about Boyd’s comeback, Amberly St. Laurent, CMHA-CVB Transitional Care Coordinator says “Boyd is the most resilient and determined person I have ever met. He has faced barriers and obstacles, but he perseveres and doesn’t let it get him down. He is a man with a plan! I know in my bones that Boyd will achieve any and all goals he sets for himself.” With Amberly’s help, Boyd is registered to begin training this month to become a Community Support Worker.
After some difficult years, Boyd is now excited for his future and looking forward to the challenges he feels that he is now equipped to tackle. His words of advice to others? “If you’re serious about changing your life, Warmland is the place to come.”
Thank you Boyd, CMHA-CVB is s so pleased to see the path that you are on and we wish you all the best for your future.