Vernon Wright does not have money to pay back the team from the Shoalhaven Homeless Hub for the help they have given him.
What he does have, however, is striking artistic talent and a wonderful desire to say thank you.
Vernon is homeless and does not have much to give, but he does have great artistic talent and a desire to help the people who had helped him.
This latest chapter in his life starts with a guitar.
“I saw the guitar at the back of Vinnies in Nowra one day and decided I would re-birth it, give it new life and turn it into something special,” he said.
“I said to myself that I would paint this up and donate to the homeless hub because of all the help they have given me over the last three-and-a-bit-years.
“They have given me support to apply for housing and help to get to see doctors as well.”
Vernon said he could go to the hub to get something to eat, grab a cup of coffee and have a shower.
He said the staff at the hub were always helpful.
“If I did not have the hub I would weigh about 20 kilos less,” he said.
Given Vernon’s ongoing health issues he also could have passed away.
The artwork on the guitar tells a story.
“The board on the back depicts the way my life been like over the last three-and-half years,” Vernon said.
“It (my life) has been a bit like a game of chess - you don’t what one move is going to be from one day to the next.
“The chessboard on the back symbolises how hard my life has been and as I said you just don’t what your next move is going to be.”
Then there is the front of the guitar.
“I am the main circle in the middle - the other bigger circles represent my three older brothers and my two older sisters,” he said.
“The four half circles represent my stepbrothers and my three stepsisters.”
The entire piece is a work from the heart.
Vernon has been painting different things for 27 years. However, sometimes life gets him down and can’t even paint.
“If I am in a happy place I will paint and since I have got help from the ladies at the hub I have been in a happy place,” he said.
“I have been happier instead of being bored and miserable and have somewhere to go and something to look forward to every morning.”
Being able to sit down in a comfortable chair to watch some television with a nice cup of coffee and enjoy the air conditioning, rather than having to deal with the harsh summer heat and bitter winter cold, means a lot to Vernon.
“You are in a happy place,” Vernon said.
It took him about 103 hours to finish the guitar.
“I have left the imperfections on it to show I did it in the back of a van and sitting on the banks of the river for who knows how many weeks - five weeks I think it has been,” he said.
“We hope to get a nice price for the homeless hub so they can continue the work they are doing - supplying food, clothing and showers for the rest of the homeless people”
Go to https://www.facebook.com/donate/2086904318267005/2606437466037212/ to make a bid for the work or even just make a donation in general.
A reserve price is on the work because the amount needs to reflect Vernon’s effort.
Not many people would just give something special like this away.
“People ask - 'how can you do all that artwork, spend all that time and put all that effort into it and give it away?' I say ‘sometimes it’s not about me’,” he said.
“It’s a material thing and material things don’t mean much to me
“To see someone else get a smile and gratification out of it means more to me than money.”
He has signed and dated this masterpiece.
Vernon can’t play the guitar but what he can do is paint and create works of art.
“I didn't even know how to string the guitar,” he said.
The strings and bridge were generously donated by South Coast Music.
“The owner came out, loved the idea and took a few photos himself and wants to see it now it’s finished,” Vernon said.
A friend put on the strings and tuned it all in.
Vernon has dreams and plans for the future.
“I want to become an artist - a full-time Aboriginal artist if I can and I am working on that,” he said.
He would love to get a house.
“Then (if he had a house) I could actually paint without having to be in my van with three dogs,” he said.
“One dog coughs and the van rocks and the wind blows and the van rocks and so it’s hard to paint like that.”
“I have got my three dogs (Boo, Brandy and Ali) and I love them.
“I had to tell them to move 100 times a night so I could move the guitar to a place I could get to it.”
He knows there are elections coming up and asks for the homeless not to be forgotten.
“It would be good if any government would help the homeless and pitch in to help us
He said if anyone was worth investing millions into, it was the team from the hub.