In the photo, the younger version of Augustino Duminuco is leaning against a Mercedes-Benz.
He is wearing sunglasses and a Dolce & Gabbana T-shirt, jeans, running shoes, a chunky, expensive-looking neck chain, bracelet and ring.
“I was high in that picture,” Duminuco says. “I was a kid.”
Over the next several years his drug use will worsen to the point where he will end up homeless.
By providing this background, Duminuco, today the CEO of a Langley-based construction company, is explaining why, every two or three weeks, he will load up a van with food and other supplies and go looking for homeless people.
In January, the Times reported how Duminuco was one of several people who set up tables on the darkened Douglas Park Spirit Square stage in Langley City early one evening to help the homeless.
They put out bag lunches, clothes, shoes, blankets and other supplies, then fired up a generator for light.
Duminuco and another person had pooled some money to make it happen, and he had personally paid for a storage locker to accommodate the flood of donations that resulted when they approached local businesses for help.
“I’ve been in some pretty rough spots myself in life and people have helped me, and I remember what that’s like,” Duminuco said at the time, without going into detail.
In April, Duminuco was one of about a dozen volunteers armed with grabbers and large plastic garbage bags who went hunting for litter in Fort Langley on Earth Day.
Now, Duminuco is telling his story, explaining why he does what he does.
It’s because he’s been there, where the people lining up for sandwiches and clean socks in Douglas Park were, he says.
“I’ve been hungry. I’ve had nowhere to go.”
The young man posing with the expensive car in the photo had a good life growing up in Langley until he started experimenting with drugs.
Then, he went from being a good student, to a drop-out, to a drug user and trafficker, Duminuco says.
“I went from coke, to crack, to crystal meth to heroin,” he says.
“It consumed my life. I ended up homeless.”
The drugs drove a wedge between Duminuco and his family.
“I put them through hell.”
Duminuco has three convictions for drug trafficking. His last stay in prison was when things began to change for the better, he says.
Duminuco cleaned up, started studying and when he got out of prison in March 2016, he had a job the very next day.
“I started out hammering nails.” he says.
“I went to work. I created structure.”
For about 10 months, things seemed to be going well.
And then, he nearly died.
After about 10 months of sobriety, Duminuco went on a two-week bender that ended with a fentanyl overdose.
“I was sober and I relapsed,” he says.
“I was not breathing.”
He was lucky. The paramedics arrived in time with an injection that brought him back.
After that, he says, the trips to help the needy became even more important — a way of reaching out to others.
Some of the people Duminuco sees when he’s distributing food and clothing and other essentials are friends he knows from the old days.
“There’s guys I went to high school with, they’re picking up bottles.”
These days, Duminuco is focused on building his businesses, including further expanding his online and social media presence (he has started an online shopping business called Tinods.com that donates 80 per cent of net profits to the community), furthering his education and working out as often as his busy schedule allows.
He’s earned his construction management diploma and completed accounting courses.
Best of all, he is close to his family again.
His praises his mother and father for their support.
“Without my parents, I wouldn’t be alive right now,” Duminuco says.
His way forward, he says, is to “stay healthy, stay sober, build businesses and help our community.”
He wants people reading his story to know that there was a time when he was exactly like the people he is helping and that they can turn their lives around like he did.
“If I did it, so can you,” he says.
“I have a saying — don’t be pushed by your problems; be led by your dreams.”