It was a pivotal year for Tony—2008, a time of heartache yet a time of transformation. It was the year his mom passed away, the year he got sober, the year he found Denver Rescue Mission, and the year his life truly changed.
After getting a DUI, Tony found himself in a detox center praying to God for a place to get sober. That’s when he learned of the New Life Program, a faith-based, year-long rehabilitation program for men at the Mission.
Knowing it would be a good fit for him, Tony made his way downtown to the Lawrence Street Shelter to sign up. When he arrived, he first went through an intake process with one of our case managers, something we do with every person who walks through our doors.
Last year, we had 6,761 people come through the doors of our shelters.
After joining our program, he stayed an additional 88 days before moving to The Crossing, the facility that houses those in our long-term programs. It was during those 88 days that God really opened Tony’s heart and when he found the foundation for his faith. Like in Psalm 40:1-2, he was given a rock to stand on:
“I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”Psalm 40:1-2
This was when his journey to sobriety started and where his relationship with God grew. “That was the place where I really started reading the Word,” Tony said. “We would do chapel at night, and one time I stood up for the first time to profess my faith.”
Part of the program is work readiness, when participants are assigned to a team to work a variety of jobs around the Mission. Tony did his work readiness at the front desk of the shelter checking guys in for the night. It was an experience that not only allowed him to get to know some of the other guys, but that taught him lessons about humility.
This is a component of the program which serves as an opportunity for participants to grow in their employment readiness and skill set. They are assigned a supervisor who works with them to ensure they are developing a solid work ethic, learning from a positive experience and gaining valuable interpersonal skills. We also help participants find meaning and value in their work and help them balance work with other areas of their life.
“The only thing separating me from the other guys was the piece of glass between us,” Tony said. “I was no better than any of them—they were struggling, and I was struggling.”
After moving to The Crossing, Tony’s time in the program was spent taking classes, going to Bible study and discovering his passion for helping others. “I had an opportunity to change my life through Christ and was able to work on those things that I needed to work on,” he said. “Just having that place to establish sobriety and not have to worry about anything other than that, being able to get to know the Lord more and talk to people who were mature in their faith, it was all a big component of the program for me.”
Tony also started giving back by tutoring men who didn’t have their GED. This sparked his love for teaching, which is what he continues to do today as a high school special education math teacher.
New Life Program By the Numbers
PARTICIPANTS OBTAINED EMPLOYMENT
OF GRADUATES REPORTED THEY WERE STILL IN HOUSING ONE YEAR AFTER GRADUATING
TOTAL GRADUATES TO DATE
*Numbers reflect FY22
Tony graduated the program in 2011. Eleven years later he lives with his wife and daughter in his own home. He continues to give back to others through his teaching and is forever grateful to God for bringing him to the Mission. “I was truly broken,” he said. “The program gave me that place to get sober, establish a relationship with God, look forward, and restart.”
Thank You for Changing Lives
Eleven years later, Tony is still grateful to you for helping him build the foundation he needed to change his life. To leave a long-lasting impact for men like Tony, give today.
If Tony looks familiar, it’s because we’ve shared a brief version of his story before in our 2017 Annual Report. Check out that article here.