“Thanks to the Mission, I’m better equipped to take life head-on than I was when I came to Denver. I’m so grateful for that.” - Jeff
“I came into this thinking that I was a very functional person,” Jeff says, but as he describes his experience over the last few years, he admits he had problems and needed help.
In 2014, he left a lucrative career in IT and went on a road trip across the U.S. with his daughter. “I got burned out,” he says. “So I spent my savings on a vacation and had a great time.” But when the trip was over, he still felt exhausted, and he spent most of his time and money drinking alcohol.
Eventually, he needed a way to pay for his living expenses and drinking habits, so he got a job at the local Home Depot. Three months later, he impulsively transferred from his local store in California to the store in Boulder, Colorado with just $122 to his name.
Because he was working the graveyard shift, Jeff wasn’t able to find a service center to access a bed and shower during the day. Assuming he’d find more services in a bigger city, he took a bus to Denver. “I had no idea where anything was,” he says, “so I just followed a couple homeless guys to Denver Rescue Mission.” At the Mission, he was able to get a shower and sleep safely in the courtyard until it was time to go back to his job in Boulder. “Every day, I would get off work in the morning, take the bus to Denver, walk to the Mission, and sleep in the courtyard on a table for six or seven hours,” he says. “Then I’d wake up in the evening, shower and get back on the bus to Boulder to go to work again.”
The routine was brutal, and after two weeks, someone suggested he try something different. They told him about our Next Step services and how he could have a bed that’s guaranteed, a shower when he needed, access to a locker, and access to life-skills workshops hosted by the Mission. “After sleeping on a table in the sun for several days, Next Step sounded great,” he says. “So I signed up, and it was amazing.” But the most amazing part about Next Step wasn’t the basic needs it met, it was the opportunity it presented for Jeff to change his life.
“I realize now that picking out Boulder on a map and moving with nothing wasn’t the smartest idea,” he says. In the financial class called Bootstraps, he learned to better manage his money, one of the main issues that caused him to end up homeless to begin with. But more important than that were the relationship development class, the conflict resolution class and the addiction class. In these classes, Jeff came to understand his addictions and learned ways to manage them.
“Sometimes in these classes, people will tell me, ‘You’ve never done heroin, you don’t know what it’s like,’” he says. “And I tell them, ‘No, but I love to fight. I’d rather fight than do dope or drink alcohol.’” Talking openly about these things in the encouraging environment of the classes helped him recognize his addictions to alcohol, adrenaline and fighting. “You have to manage your addictions to be a functional member of society,” he says. “It’s that simple”.
For most, Next Step is a chance to slow down and take inventory of their lives. “When you have problems you’re trying to overcome but you’re not taking the time to slow down and actually figure them out, it’s like trying to run and put your shoes on at the same time,” Jeff says with a knowing smile. “It just doesn’t work. But the Mission allows you the chance to stop and breathe, and assess what your next step will be.” Jeff says his next step is to transfer his job to another Home Depot, but this time, it’s not an impulsive decision. “Rent in Denver is very high,” he says. “So I’ve been searching for more affordable places to live. There’s a Home Depot in Wichita, Kansas that I’ve been in contact with. And I’ve been talking with an apartment complex nearby. Thanks to the Mission, I’m better equipped to take life head-on than I was when I came to Denver. I’m so grateful for that.”