His toes tingled in the cold, nearly overcome by frostbite. Filthy and bruised from head to toe, the smell of urine and alcohol clung to his clothes like a rancid perfume. He whispered a short prayer through his missing teeth, “Lord, I need your help. I’m not going to make it.”

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Mitch’s parents divorced when he was a teenager, and his life began to unravel. He sought connection with others through high school sports, but experimenting with drugs and alcohol got him kicked off the football team his senior year.

After high school, his drug and alcohol use continued, and he ended up in and out of jail regularly. His life was consumed by partying, drugs and living in rebellion.

“I have joy now, not only in my smile, but in my heart.”

When he was 21, he was the passenger in a drunk driving accident which launched him through the windshield of a car going 110 miles per hour. He lost several teeth as a result and was lucky to be alive. It left him scarred and suffering from learning disabilities, but it wasn’t enough to cause him to change his ways.

His violent and drug-ridden lifestyle continued through 13 years of marriage and 24 months in prison. Eventually, he ended up homeless and living in an alley behind a store in Oregon. A woman named Susie worked at the store and took pity on him, allowing him to stay in the small apartment attached to her home. But his addiction persisted, and she kicked him out.

Over the next few years, Mitch played on her sympathy to get off the street for a few days before he would start drinking and using drugs again. When Susie moved to Colorado, he followed her, hoping to continue taking advantage of her kindness.

But she decided to stop enabling him, and Mitch found himself alone in Denver. He wandered the streets drunk, high and depressed. One night, passing by a shed company, he had an idea. “I thought I could sneak inside one of the sheds to sleep,” he explains. But when he peeked inside, he saw the body of a man who had committed suicide. “He looked so sad,” Mitch remembers.

Sitting under that overpass reading his Bible by the faint glow of a lighter, he began to realize he needed help. “I couldn’t get his face out my mind,” he says. “I didn’t want to be that guy, but here I was killing myself anyway, just slowly. I finally let go and decided I’d do whatever it took, so I came to the Mission.”

At the Mission, he found more than just a warm bed and clean clothes. He found people who accepted him and believed in him. Mitch found hope.

In the New Life Program, he learned important life skills, how to better manage his finances, how to build stronger relationships, and how to deal with addictions and stay sober. But the most visible change in Mitch’s life is the new smile he wears every day—literally. Since his car accident, he was missing several teeth. “I was afraid to smile and people would think I was mean,” he says. “Even eating and talking were difficult because I couldn’t keep food and saliva from flying out of my mouth.”

At the Mission, Mitch was able to get dental work and a bridge installed to fix the large gap in his teeth. “It’s a whole different world having teeth,” he explains with another big smile. “I’ve noticed a difference in how people treat me in public now. Having teeth helps me feel better about myself.”

Because of generous donors like you, Mitch has a new reason to smile, but it’s not just because of his new teeth. “I have joy now,” he says, “not only in my smile, but in my heart. It’s nice to be able to laugh and not be ashamed of how I look, but it’s even better to be able to smile on the inside because of what Jesus has done in my life.”

Thank you for making Mitch’s new life a reality by supporting Denver Rescue Mission. Without your faithful support, the life-changing work at the Mission wouldn’t be possible.