Virginia Beach program aims to “lift” people out of poverty and homelessness

Posted at 11:50 PM, Nov 16, 2015
and last updated 2015-11-16 23:50:02-05

Virginia Beach, Va. - If you`ve walked along the boardwalk in Virginia Beach, you`ve more than likely seen them-- images of poverty and homelessness.

According to the City of Virginia Beach, there are nearly 500 homeless people living in Virginia Beach but there are 30,000 living in poverty in the city. Most of those folks have no permanent place to call home.

That was John Viand just a few months ago.

'I didn`t care about myself for a long time. And when I don`t care about me, I don`t care about anyone else,” says John.

Heavy drinking had taken its toll. He lost a good paying job and that`s not all.

“I was devastated. I had already lost my family,” says John.

And before he knew it, he was living on the street.

But life was about to take an unexpected turn. He saw a flier for a program call Lift while he was staying at the Salvation Army.

Virginia Beach Fitness Studio owner Jim White started the Lift program three years ago and it’s helped 100 people go from helpless to hopeful.

“Lift stands for lifting spirits, improving bodies, feeding souls and transforming lives. It incorporates a 90-day program of exercise nutrition, and motivational speaking so they can get jobs and get them back on their feet,” says White.

And for John, it worked. He just finished the program and he already has a stable place to live, a job, and he`s healthier with a renewed interest in life.

“It takes a community for a man to a recover,” says John.

And this community cares. Dozens of volunteers gather at White`s Virginia Beach studio early Sunday morning to start a 240-mile journey to the White House in Washington DC. It`s a fundraiser to help the lift program continue to help beach residents like John get back on their feet.