The Inspiring Story of Doug Herrington.

Doug is a battler who draws strength from the challenges he has overcome in his life. Having faced mental illness, homelessness, substance addiction - and won - Doug’s biggest test came in October 2011 when the house he was living in burnt down - with him inside.

Doug was pulled from the flames of the fire that almost claimed his life, but was left with third degree burns to over 50 per cent of his body. After a long hospital battle and more than 200 operations, Doug became a recluse.

Vinnies Queensland volunteers, who had already been helping Doug on and off for more than 30 years, stepped in to give him a hand up once again. When Doug was offered a home at Brisbane social housing centre ‘Common Ground’, he was given a hospital bed so he could elevate his feet to overcome severe swelling. Volunteers also helped bring meals up to his room as Doug felt his burns would make other residents uncomfortable. Doug was also provided with clothing vouchers.

Years later, Doug, now 50, is confident, outgoing, and encourages others to overcome their fears. In fact, Doug is on the way to becoming a sought-after motivational speaker who cites Vinnies Queensland as a supportive and stabilising influence throughout his recovery.

“Vinnies have been the organisation that has helped me the most, they are always there for me, especially Lizzy and her colleagues in the Brisbane Helpline team,” he says.

“I can’t thank the organisation and its volunteers enough. It’s not just financial, or emotional, it’s everything, they have been there as an organisation I can count on.”

Doug says Vinnies Queensland provides people with hope, something he also does when he gives speeches or speaks with other burn victims.
“It’s all about hope, hope is one thing but also seeing hope transformed into something else,” he says. “It’s really, really important to use my experiences in life to convey that message.

I don’t carry anyone in life, and I don’t expect anyone to carry me but I’ll certainly throw an arm around them and give them a hand and that’s what I believe Vinnies does and what they did for me, they threw an arm around me.”

Doug’s new enterprise, as well as his motivational speaking efforts, is as an Uber driver. Vinnies Queensland helped him back onto his feet toward financial independence by helping out with vehicle expenses including registration and a license.

“They do it out of the goodness of their hearts,” Doug says. “But they also see me trying to do something positive, and I think that also helps Vinnies as an organisation say ‘we are not just giving people handouts, we are actually making a difference here’.”

For a full copy of Making a Difference - Autumn 2018 please click here

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