VIDEO: Recovering addict shares art and story to motivate others

A Langley City man spends time each day painting in McBurney Plaza.

This Christmas is a little harder than many in past for Mike Hunniford, who recently lost his surrogate grandmother and best friend to cancer.

But, nevertheless, the recovering alcoholic is anxious to share just a sampling of the support that she and others have showed hime in the past eight years – helping him move off the streets and helping him to get and remain sober.

The 70-year-old woman, who was in the (Alcoholics Anonymous) program for some 20 years. She pulled Hunniford out of the bushes in front of the Starbucks on Fraser Highway eight years back.

“She found me and took me home,” Hunniford explained.

He was a drunk and homeless at the time and likely facing an imminent death sentence if he didn’t change his ways.

His “angel” was instrumental in helping Hunniford find the assistance he needed to turn his life around, including offering friendship when few others would.

She also introduced him to a veteran Langley outreach worker Fraser Holland, who was an invaluable resource for Hunniford get him connected with housing and many other support services.

“There’s some good people in this community,” Hunniford said.

He remained close friends with his “angel” until her recent death.

“Christmas without her is hard,” he said.

Today, to honour her, he paints pictures every day in downtown Langley City.

But still, every day during the last seven months, rain or shine, Hunniford has been found with his makeshift artists easel, bottles of acrylic paints, and a shopping cart full of canvases and other painting supplies – camped out at the entrance to McBurney Plaza.

He’s there sharing smiles, chatting with passersby, and giving away smiles and his art to those who seem truly interested.

“It fills me with joy and love,” he said of his painting.

“And I give them away… I give them to people who like them and enjoy them, and will hang them up. They have to hang them up, that’s one of the rules,” he added with a coy smile.

Hunniford is easy to pick out in the crowd at McBurney. A cross tattooed on his cheek and smile on his face, he’s typically the guy at the side or in front of the McBurney Coffee & Tea House with his paint splattered and well-worn leather jacket.

Even though this Christmas season has been harder than most for Hunniford, a recent gesture from an anonymous person reassured him there is still great kindness in the world.

This most recent “sweet gesture” came in the shape of a gift box that was mysteriously left next to his easel last week.

Inside, he discovered a care package complete with soup, muffins, some other baked goods, and one of the best gifts he could ever ask for – more paint supplies.

“It helps me out,” he said, anxious to say thanks for these and all the other gifts – tangible and non-tangible – that he’s received through the years.

Now, he’s hoping to keep paying it forward.

He considers himself among the fortunate. He’s lost many friends to alcohol, drugs, and life on the street.

And Hunniford hopes he can offer just a smidgen of the support he’s received through the years – be it becoming a friendly ear to talk to for people living with mental illness, addiction, or homelessness, or whether it’s offering hope and advise to loved ones who struggle as they watch family member or friends dealing with the same.

It’s about education and compassion, he said. Often the disenfranchised are at or near an all-time low in their life, but they are still fellow human beings – they’re still someone’s father or mother, brother or sister, husband or wife, grandchild or spouse, Hunniford said, and people simply have to tap into their humanity.

“We have to care and love them, please,” he said. “Remember that at this time of the year, and all year around.”

 

It seems apropos that aspiring artist Mike Hunniford’s business card is nothing more than a coffee sleeve with his name and number penned across it. (Roxanne Hooper/Langley Advance)

Just Posted

Langley goes Hollywood

Red carpet fundraiser for ER campaign

Langley pedophile wins appeal after violating court order

Kelly Glen Isbister’s sentence was cut by the BC Court of Appeal

Neighbour recounts ‘fifteen minutes of insanity’ after deck collapses at Aldergrove wedding

Local resident Charles Ford ran over to the dozens wounded, along with many other neighbours

High school mechanics get ‘huge head start’

The ACSS apprentices will showcase their work at this year’s Country Car Show in Aldergrove.

$18 million Aldergrove amenity seen as unfair for other Township communities

An unanimous council voted in favour of Councillor Eric Woodward’s policy to provide downtown Aldergrove with more resources.

What’s age got to do with it? B.C. couple with 45-year gap talks happy marriage

An Armstrong couple that has 45-year age gap began turning heads after being featured on show Extreme Love.

WATCH: South Vancouver Island shooting an ‘isolated and targeted’ incident, say police

One person in custody, another fled following shooting and crash on West Shore

Woe, Canada: Bruins down Maple Leafs 5-1 in Game 7

No Canadian teams left in Stanley Cup playoffs

Defence accuses officer of ‘incompetence’ in trial for B.C. man accused in daughters’ murder

Double murder trial for the Victoria father accused of killing his two young daughters continues

Loud jets from Abbotsford are annoying residents of tiny U.S. town

Flights out of Abbotsford airport turn over border town and annoy residents, Sumas mayor says

B.C. men challenge constitutionality of Canada’s secret no-fly list

Parvkar Singh Dulai says he received a “denial of boarding” notification under the no-fly program last May 17

Murder on B.C. property didn’t need to be disclosed before sale, court rules

Buyer had tried to break contract after learning a man with ties to crime had been murdered there

VIDEO: Spiderman-clad Lamborghini makes pit stop in Abbotsford ahead of Avengers premiere

Highstreet Shopping Centre displaying unique car during Friday’s opening of Marvel movie

B.C.’s largest Vaisakhi festival target of threatening Facebook post: Surrey RCMP

Police say they are investigating the posts on Facebook, after local MLA forwarded screenshots

Most Read