HOMELESS for more than 40 years, Garry “Snowy” Herron was simply concerned about his own survival.
“You look after you when you’re on the road, believe you me,” he said, explaining he had journeyed all over Australia, sleeping rough on river banks, in abandoned buildings, railway stations and under bridges.
He never thought he would be in a position to help others.
But three years ago, as Snowy was taking refuge at men’s shelter Quamby House, a man by the name of John Brabant came in search of a person who could help him fulfil a dream.
That dream was Carevan and along with chief executive Jodie Tiernan, the trio made it a reality.
At the weekend, they celebrated three years since the charity’s foundation in QEII Square.
Snowy believed one of the reasons Carevan was so strong was because many of the volunteers, including himself, knew exactly what the homeless men and women were going through when they arrived at the van for a meal.
He said if you haven’t been there, you can’t truly understand.
Snowy started sleeping rough from the age of 18.
“It’s honest fact, I don’t have to lie about what I’ve done or where I’ve been,” Snowy, 63, said of the conversations he has with the homeless men and women who arrive at Carevan for a meal.
Snowy now has a one-bedroom unit in Albury thanks to the Department of Housing but said that was his choice.
He believed many homeless people preferred to stay where they were.
“Every homeless person has their reasons why they’re homeless,” he said.
“I’d just had enough, just stopped doing it after 40 years, I wasn’t a young man any more.”
Earlier this month, Minister for Citizenship and Communities Victor Dominello named Carevan the NSW Volunteer Team of the Year and Snowy was in Sydney to accept the award.
But Snowy said the Carevan journey was fraught with those who doubted whether it could be a success.
“Lots of people had their doubts, but we proved them wrong,” he said.
“You don’t sleep homeless for 40 years and then just give up.
“I’m a survivor and I knew we’d kick on.”