Check Out This Video of Pedro’s Story
Pedro Morales will forever be grateful for the day he made it to the corner of Park Avenue West and Lawrence Street.
On a cold winter night in December 2016, Pedro approached two other men on the street and asked them where they typically go to get a meal. “We go to ‘Jesus Saves,’” they said. “Follow us, and we’ll take you there.”
As he arrived at Denver Rescue Mission’s Lawrence Street Community Center (LSCC), he got chills when he saw the ‘Jesus Saves’ cross shining at the end of the block.
In that moment, he felt overwhelmed by God’s sovereignty. He thought back to the day God protected him when he tried to end his life just a year earlier. “When I did it, I felt like my soul, my spirit, was coming out,” he said. “I got scared and I said, ‘In the name of Jesus Christ, please give me another chance. I’m sorry for what I did.’”
But Pedro’s situation got worse before it got better. Shortly after that, he got evicted from his apartment. “God got my attention,” he said. “I lost everything—my house, my kids and my wife.”
Without any relatives or friends available to help him, he roamed the streets of Denver with his backpack filled with belongings, consumed by a 20-year drug addiction. “I was doing the needle a lot,” he said, “and I couldn’t stop. God told me, I am sufficient, and you’re going to see the blessings that are coming for you. I heard it like an echo: I am with you. I am with you. Don’t break. Don’t break. ”
When approaching the doors of the Mission that night, Pedro didn’t realize how many blessings were waiting behind them: a solid community, services that would help him get back on his feet, creative outlets that would help combat his addiction, and a future employment opportunity.
A few days after arriving, Pedro heard about Next Step, which provides access to life skills classes and case management assistance to help individuals take steps toward living self-sufficiently. Members of the Next Step community remain drug and alcohol free and participate in community involvement activities during their time at the Mission. He joined right away.
Emergency Services Chaplain Jay Earl, who worked closely with Pedro during his time in Next Step, said that one of the primary goals of the service is to help restore guests’ dignity and self-respect. “We’re facilitating what God’s already doing in their lives,” he said.
One of Pedro’s biggest takeaways from Next Step was learning how to budget and make wise purchasing decisions.
“The Mission staff taught me how to be a man and not a kid,” Pedro said. “They taught me not to feel sorry for myself, to put God first before anything and to have grace with people just like He has grace with me.”
“He had a Mission for me. It was not to hurt me, but for me to understand that what I was doing was going to either take me to the grave or to prison. And He brought me here. Now, I thank Him that I got evicted, because if I never got evicted, I would never have been who I am now.” – Pedro
Jay said that Pedro was warm to the gospel from the beginning. “Anytime we had chapel or Bible study, he was usually the first one there,” he said. “I think it was his spiritual journey and his hunger for Jesus that really gave him the strength for everything else.”
An art collaborative led by Angie Tims, Next Step caseworker manager at the Mission, made a significant impact on Pedro during his time living at the shelter. Each week, he joined a group of other guests to create art in various forms.
“It kept me from wanting to use drugs because I was so excited to be painting,” Pedro said. “I would just clear my mind. Everything that I was feeling was in my paintings.”
Angie has had many conversations with guests whose only element of stability in their lives is the art collaborative. “In an environment where people feel unseen and hopeless, our group offers a low-barrier way for them to have a voice, be valued and do something good with their hearts and hands,” she said.
With guidance from Mission staff, Pedro eventually landed a job with a manufacturer and bought a home in Commerce City. Deep down, he had a desire to come back and work for the Mission. About a year after he transitioned out of Next Step, he received an opportunity to work at the Mission, which brought him back to the corner of Park Avenue West and Lawrence Street once again.
As an Emergency Services Coordinator at LSCC, Pedro is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the facility and for upholding the security and safety of our guests. He takes the time to sit down and talk with them. He asks them about their day. He tells them that he understands.
“Don’t stop,” Pedro says to them. “Don’t give up. Because even though you think everything is over and you want to end your life, your blessings are right around the corner.”
Every day during the last several years, about 1,000 individuals come to our Lawrence Street Community Center for help. As we meet their basic needs with meals, showers, shelter, drinking water, restrooms, and laundry facilities, we create opportunities to further connect with guests.
Here are FIVE additional things we offer to foster fellowship, mentorship and community*:
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PEER NAVIGATORS: In 2019, we launched a program called the Denver Peer Navigator Collaborative after being awarded a grant from the City of Denver. Peer Navigators are employees who have lived experience with homelessness and are able to relate to guests, build relationships and refer them to resources that help them become self-sufficient.
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CHAPEL AND BIBLE STUDIES: We host chapel services every day and twice on Sundays. The service starts with coffee, cookies and fellowship and is followed by a time of worship, testimonies, a sermon, and an alter call. Our staff members also host Bible studies for guests twice a week. They read a passage and create a space for guests to study and interpret scripture, share, and ask questions.
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ACTIVITIES AND EVENTS: Each month, we plan a series of events such as talent shows, trivia, bingo, and special pampering events for women to create opportunities for guests to interact with staff and volunteers and engage in positive, uplifting activities.
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ART COLLABORATIVE: An art group offered by Mission staff and volunteers provides a means of engagement, expression and community. Together, the group creates projects such as painted canvases, paper quilts, journals, watercolor paintings, cards, macramé, jewelry, and more.
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NETWORK OF RESOURCES: Through Next Step, a 50-day service that provides members with a consistent bed, locker space and case management, and other long-term Mission programs, we equip guests to break the barriers causing homelessness. We also refer guests to various resources around the city to help them find an exit plan out of the shelter system.
*Some of the above mentioned activities have been paused due to COVID-19.