Jonnell’s life was consumed by addiction from an early age. The environment he grew up in was marked by abuse and fear, and as he witnessed the people around him turn to drugs and alcohol to numb the pain, he began to do the same.

“I watched my mother get physically abused for years by my father then other men who eventually began to turn their anger on my siblings and I with no one to help alleviate our pain,” said Jonnell. He began drinking alcohol at age 14, marijuana use at 17 and eventually began using crack cocaine at 19.

A Life Restored

Jonnell felt he had no one to turn to or to confide in about his troubling life circumstances. “I had a lot of fears and lie-based wounds in my heart, without anyone to share with me how to deal with the debilitating pain within my heart.” The brokenness that overwhelmed his environment continued to enable destructive habits rather than healthier methods of coping.

“Many of us came from broken homes and were brought into this world by parents who didn’t have the skills or knowledge to raise us in a constructive manner. Which means everything modeled before us was flawed knowledge.”

In Jonnell’s case, he was encouraged to turn to drinking or using drugs when going through tough times. But after making the decision to come to Denver Rescue Mission, he discovered there was a better way to manage difficult situations. “I found a better way to live my life which gave me a myriad of better choices to make when seeking rest from life’s worries.”

Jonnell shared his story with us when he graduated from the New Life Program, and today, he’s a Program Chaplain at The Crossing.

Through the New Life Program, Jonnell was able to receive counseling and the support he needed to heal broken relationships and restore peace in his life. A week after graduating from the program, he married his wife Lyzette who aided him in gaining full custody of two of his children and joint custody of his third child. “I was once homeless and now have a wonderful home and family.” After years of walking the streets, he was also blessed to have his driver’s license reinstated after 10 years without one.

Despite graduating high school with a 1.9 GPA, Jonnell went on to graduate from Grand Canyon University with his Bachelors in Christian Studies, Suma Cum Laude with a 3.9 GPA. He was hired on at the Mission at the Volunteer & Work Therapy Coordinator, was then promoted to Shelter Supervisor at our Lawrence Street location and now is a Program Chaplain at The Crossing. He is also an Elder and Pastor at Colorado Christian Fellowship.

Jonnell hopes his story can motivate more people to realize their potential and to create a better life despite their circumstances. “This proves everyone who battles addictions, homelessness, or poor mental health due to life’s many struggles has untapped potential to succeed. We just need someone to see our potential, despite painful disposition, which helps them to view us apart from the common misconceptions or stereotypes people often have regarding those dealing with substance abuse and homelessness.”

Thank You for Making
Stories Like Jonnell’s Possible!

Your gifts enable us to serve the most vulnerable neighbors in our community. Together, we can offer true life change, rooted in the love of Christ, for those who have nowhere else to turn.

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