Keeping faith in humanity
Victoria man delivers to people in need throughout Trinity-Conception region
Every morning while Vic Keeping was in Carbonear General Hospital getting treated for colon cancer in 2002, he would look out his room window at the sun rising over the town and say, “Wow.”
He would say the same thing at night when gazing out at the star-lit sky and glowing lights of the houses below.
The word ‘wow’ has become more meaningful to Keeping over the years, since he began affiliating it with genuine adoration and positivity.
He now uses the acronym W.O.W. for his volunteer organization, the Web of Want, which picks up donated items from those who have them to make deliveries to those in need.
“Really it should have been ‘Web of Need,’” Keeping told The Compass during a sit-down interview at the office in Carbonear. “But then, W.O.N. really doesn’t do the same as W.O.W.”
After finding out he had cancer, he began thinking about giving to those in need.
“When I was diagnosed with cancer, I didn’t go to church a lot,” he said. “But the Sunday before I went to the hospital, I went. (Pastor) Jesse (Bown) was preaching.”
Bown is the minister at the Open Door church, a non-denominational, alternative place of worship. At that time, he was a United Church minister in Victoria.
At the end of the service, Bown told the congregation a lady in Victoria with three children had no beds and was in need of assistance.
“It was getting colder, and they had nowhere to sleep,” Keeping explained.
After he checked into the hospital for his week-long stay, he kept thinking about that mother and her children. “I had a bed in my basement,” he said. The week went by, and his surgery was successful. So once he was discharged, he called up Bown to talk about helping people out.
“Two years after, we got it started,” Keeping said.
Since then, Keeping has undergone several treatments and surgeries for cancer, most recently last year when he almost died from a chemotherapy reaction.
But, even with struggles and fighting the disease, he has remained positive. Continuing with W.O.W. makes him feel like he’s making a difference.
To W.O.W. off the ground, forms were available to fill out at the church for people with items to donate and those who needed them could .
“We asked, ‘If there’s anything you’re not using, write it on the form and pass to me or put in the church (collection) plate,” recalled Keeping. “That’s how it operated for a long time.”
One member of the congregation offered the use of his truck any time to pick up and drop off donations. Sometimes he needed to do pick-ups on short notice.
But that changed after Bown founded the Open Door Ministry.
Although W.O.W. is not a church organization, the Open Door congregation is one of its biggest supporters. A truck was donated in February 2013 for deliveries and pick-ups.
“Donations from people at Open Door pay for a storage locker, gas for the truck, insurance on the truck,” Keeping explained, noting some church members give specifically to W.O.W.
Helping those in need
Keeping created a Facebook group to help the cause. Those in the group, called “Carbonear Area – Free Stuff,” can post items they are looking for or items they wish to donate. But he also relies heavily on phone calls.
Whenever Keeping needs a helping hand, he has four people willing to donate their time and sometimes their driving skills. The farthest he has gone is St. John’s.
“A lady in St. John’s was looking for a baby monitor,” he said. “I had two in my basement. I told her the next time I was in town I would bring them to her.”
And he did.
When asked if any of his donations were memorable, Keeping admitted a lot have been forgotten over time, but some he would never forget.
“We fitted out (a woman’s) apartment with donations,” he recalled. “For $40 she got everything she required. This was one of the first, and I was so proud we did it with $40.”
Often he comes across a recently split up family, with the mother and children moving out without a paycheque and left to rely on social assistance. They typically cannot afford to furnish an apartment.
He estimates there have been at least 500 or 600 people in Trinity Conception who have received help from W.O.W. since 2004.
There are some items that have been in high demand from W.O.W., including washers and dryers. Around this time last year, the group had an abundance of them.
They also take donations for beds, dressers, tables and chairs. But donations aren’t just limited to furniture.
W.O.W. also takes doors, televisions, towels, pots and pans, anything someone may need for daily living. If they can’t donate it, they can sell it at a flea market.
To donate to W.O.W., contact Vic Keeping at 5962823 or 597-5095.
Vic Keeping has dedicated over a decade of his life to helping others from Trinity Conception by collecting donated items and giving them to those in need.