Keep­ing faith in hu­man­ity

Vic­to­ria man de­liv­ers to peo­ple in need through­out Trin­ity-Con­cep­tion re­gion

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BYMELISSA JENK­INS

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.

Church as­sis­tance

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.

Mem­o­rable do­na­tions

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.

Photo by Melissa Jenk­ins/The Com­pass

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.

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