Hot dog van offers hope for homeless man
A friendly food truck owner has helped one of Auckland’s homeless get back on his feet by selling hot dogs in the streets and parks he used to sleep in.
LAURA WALTERS AND JOSH FAGAN
Last updated 08:57, July 12 2015
A food truck owner has helped one of Auckland's homeless get back on his feet, allowing him to sell hotdogs in the streets he used to live in.
Give a man a hot dog and you feed him for a day. Give him an entire hot dog cart and you change his life forever.
Brad had been down on his luck, living rough in Auckland's central city parks with only faithful hound Codey as company when one night the dog's nose lead them to Steve Coppard and his Rock Dogs food truck.
"He came to my truck one night, we had a bit of a chat and he was hungry and homeless and I gave him a hotdog and fed his dog," Coppard said.
"It's hard to explain what this means really," says homeless man Brad, given a break by Rock Dogs owner Steve Coppered.
It was a meeting that has transformed the lives of both men.
Brad and Codey became regular visitors to the cart and finally, impressed by Brad, Coppard bought him a van to live in and has given him his own hot dog cart so he can sell hot dogs in the same streets and parks in which he used to sleep.
"It's hard to explain what this means really," said Brad, who despite his problems, retains his pride and doesn't want his last name used. But he does want to pay tribute to his mate, Coppard.
Steve Coppered, left, Rock Dogs cart owner, with Brad, a homeless man who Steve is training to work in the hot dog sales business. Story; Laura Walters/Josh Fagan
"It's just so good to get on with my life. I want to work hard and I want to inspire others."
Brad had been living on the streets for two years after a break up with his partner of 20 years and his children. Being homeless brought him his fair share of tough experiences.
He struggled to find a job with his dog in tow, but never gave up on Codey. He was pragmatic about his situation; never drank or took drugs and always stayed upbeat.
"I'm always trying to be happy. You've got to. I try and keep a sense of humour, or be a bit silly sometimes. It's helped keep my spirits up."
Coppard admits to doing it tough himself at times.
The Auckland solo dad said he left a 20-year career as a "high-flying" IT sales executive after he had "a bit of a meltdown".
"I haven't always been happy and fortunate myself you know."
So helping out Brad was "sort of part of my own healing process."
He hoped his gesture would also serve as an example and inspire others to help.
Coppard said he was happier since setting up his own food truck business, which started after a weekend spent selling hotdogs at a friend's house with his son a couple of years ago.
After getting to know Brad and Codey, Coppard initially let the pair sleep in his hot dog truck.
But last week Coppard bought a campervan from some Irish tourists for $1000 and gave it to Brad.
He also gave him the loan of a mobile Rock Dog cart from which he could sell hot dogs and start making some money.
Friday was Brad's first day on the job selling hot dogs at Victoria Park; a place he used to sleep in.
He said he will be forever grateful to Coppard.
Compliance issues made it difficult to get set up as a street vendor in Auckland, Coppard said.
However, Rock Dogs had been working with council organisations and private landowners to make sure he and Brad were able to sell their hotdogs around the city.
Coppard plans to license and sell mobile hotdog carts to aspiring vendors nationally.