A former out-of-work Richmond man spent five years on the street in Vancouver’s West End before dozens of people took up his cause in a random act of kindness.

Three years ago, Kelly Lough and documentary filmmaker Monique Boucher found Brian Woods homeless, with only a tent for shelter.  

“I had a sleeping bag, blankets, whatever I could possibly get,” says Woods.

“He was sleeping on wet blankets so I brought him a nice mummy sleeping bag the first day I met him," Lough added.

"Yeah,” Woods said, “It was pretty tough. In all those years outside, yes, very tough.”

Until he met Lough and Boucher.

“Right from that day things changed totally,” Woods reflected, “A lot of people helped me out in every way possible.” 

Lough and Boucher got him a haircut and made arrangements to move him off the street and into the Murray Hotel. They rallied 60 people to contribute to fixing up a room for Woods and even the author of Pay it Forward, Catherine Ryan Hyde, kicked in some money.

“If we all want to live in a kinder world and it’s quite easy to be kinder. Why don’t we just do it?” Hyde told CTV News from her home in California.

Three years later, Woods is living a new life with a new job at Mission Possible working maintenance. Lough still checks in, and helped Brian move from the Murray Hotel to a new apartment. Woods recently turned 50 and Lough took him out and gave him cash. 

So why does Lough do it? 

“Somebody gave me a helping hand a long time ago and whenever I see somebody who needs help and I think I can do something, I do it,” he said. 

And 16 years after her book was published, Hyde is happy the movement is still alive and well. 

“It’s something I was hoping would be widely imitated. So far, so good,” she said.

“I’m very happy. Very, very, happy. Nice to be off the street. Big difference,” Woods summed up.