12 4 Y E A R S O F S E R V I C E
“It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8
Photo provided by: Arkansas Valley Digital Imaging
“I had all the safety gear, like the helmet, the life jacket and things, But I’m not a great swimmer, and I wasn’t sure it was going to be enough.” - Matt,
In June, Matt challenged his fears at the Mission’s annual whitewater rafting trip donated by Wilderness Aware.
of Life As Matt prepares to graduate this fall, he says the biggest takeaway from the program is his relationship with Jesus.
Thoughts of his first homeless experience raced through Matt’s mind as he stood on the shore of the Arkansas River preparing to face a challenging whitewater rafting adventure for the first time. “When I was homeless, all I had was my clothes, phone, toothpaste …. It was like I was clinging to a small piece of driftwood and floating down a raging river. I was terrified,” he says.
Almost two years ago, Matt was living on the street alone, addicted to alcohol and drugs. In survival mode, he struggled each day to meet basic needs like securing food and shelter and finding a safe place to use the restroom. The fear that gripped his heart on the river that day in June reminded him of that struggle to stay alive.
“I slept behind a dumpster on 3rd and Broadway,” he says, explaining what it was like to live on the streets. But in addition to dealing with extreme weather and other dangers, Matt had discovered other, seemingly trivial things he had to learn, like memorizing the trash pickup schedule. “It was pretty terrifying at times, waking up to a dumpster being dropped next to me” he says. “They aren’t expecting someone to be sleeping behind the trash can, and if it gets dropped on top of you, you could get seriously hurt.” Matt says the constant fear and anxiety about his own survival was reminiscent of his childhood. “When I was 16, I got emancipated from my parents due to a lot of physical abuse,” he explains.
Thankfully, his grandfather stepped in to help. “He helped me get a condo, a job and a car,” Matt explains, but after he graduated from high school, he started getting into trouble. “I didn’t know how to cope with the abuse I experienced, so I bottled up all the anger, depression and hate, finding an outlet in alcohol and drugs.”
Later, Matt met a young woman at a party, and they ended up having a child together. Matt felt it was his responsibility to marry her, and they grew to love each other. But when she died giving birth to their second child, Matt sank deeper into his addictions. While he struggled through depression and addictions, his grandparents cared for his young daughter and new son. Matt says he spent nearly $250,000 on drugs and alcohol before he was 23 years old. “I sold my car and my condo … all for drugs,” he says. “I lost so many things I ended up homeless.”
After more than 60 days living on the street, he finally found Denver Rescue Mission, almost by accident. He walked into the Lawrence Street Shelter one morning, looking for a place to use the restroom. “I asked the guy at the front door why there were people sitting in the chapel area,” he explains. “He said it was a homeless shelter, but I didn’t even know what that meant.”
That’s when he learned how the Mission helps people experiencing homelessness, and that night, he started sleeping on a warm bed at the Mission instead of behind a filthy dumpster. About two months later, Matt sat in the chapel listening to a sermon from a volunteer. “They were talking about the prodigal son—how he wanted all his money and spent it all drinking and partying,” he says. “It reminded me of my life. I wanted everything right away, and then I lost everything.”
That night, he picked up a Bible and began to read instead of going to sleep. “I had never prayed before,” he says, “so I didn’t know what I was doing. I just started talking to God. I said something like, ‘So, I know I’m 23 years old, and I’ve never once prayed—sorry about that. How do we do this?’” Matt laughs as he describes his first prayer—more like a wish list for Santa Claus than a traditional prayer. “I was very childish in my understanding,” he says, explaining how he started to recognize God’s position in his life. That’s when Matt’s situation began to change.
The next morning, he joined the New Life Program. “The program has been like a giant raft that rescued me when I was drowning,” he says. “I still have to go through the rapids of life, but it’s a lot easier to get through them now.”
When he first joined the program, he struggled to apply the things he was being taught through classes, counseling and case management. At times, he admits he didn’t want to listen to his chaplain. “I was so pig-headed,” he says, shaking his head. “I just wanted to get things done so that I could leave the program. I had to learn to slow down, enjoy my time here and learn from the experience.” He says it’s similar to how he felt on the Mission’s annual
You can help people like Matt navigate through life’s challenges today! Use the enclosed envelope or go online to DenverRescueMission.org/Donate!
rafting trip. Though he followed the instructions of the river guide, all he wanted to do was paddle as hard as he could until he was through the rapids. But that’s not always the best way to navigate the rough waters; and in life, Matt was also learning to rely on others for guidance.
As he prepares to graduate this fall, he says the biggest takeaway from the program is his relationship with Jesus. When he came to the Mission, his chaplain and other Mission staff helped guide him, and now Jesus will help guide his life too. “I’m looking forward to teaching my kids about Jesus,” he says. “I want to give them the life they deserve, but more importantly, I want to give them a life with God.”
Without your generous support, the Mission couldn’t offer basic services like meals and shelter or long-term programs to our homeless and struggling neighbors. Together with you, the Mission is able to meet people like Matt at their physical and spiritual points of need so they can become self-sufficient members of society.
Whether it’s through emergency services or life-changing programs, we’re dedicated to “getting in the boat” alongside people in need and helping them overcome these challenges, but we couldn’t do it without you. Thank you for your generous support! Watch Matt’s video: DenverRescueMission.org/Story/Matt
Letter from the CEO
11th Annual Shopping Extravaganza Are you ready to shop ‘til you drop for a good cause? Dear Friends,
Have you ever felt like everything was going pretty well, that you were really clicking on all cylinders, and then something happened that really shook you? Perhaps it was some kind of crisis, and whether big or small, it was a crisis nonetheless. For many of the people who come to us for help, the crisis might be the loss of a job, or worse yet, the loss of a loved one. It might be a medical emergency of some kind, or a nagging injury that causes someone to miss work and drains their finances. Or maybe the crisis is just too much for them to handle, and they end up taking solace in a bottle or trying to escape by abusing prescription or illegal drugs.
We all cope differently when a crisis hits us, and I am sure you know of friends or family who have lost everything because things just got too tough. This is why we are here. At Denver Rescue Mission, we believe that God loves everyone and has a plan for their life. Through the power of Jesus’ love, people can be changed forever. Since the late 1980s, when we began our New Life Program, we have seen over 1,000 people graduate with changed lives. These folks have clawed out of their crisis and despair into a life of hope and a future filled with promise.
For those of you struggling with some crisis of your own, I want you to know there is hope. That hope is found in the power of the God of the universe, the person of Jesus Christ, who loves you deeply. We are committed to sharing his love with all who come to us because we know how rocky the rapids of life can become. No matter if you think you have it all together and have all the safety gear needed for the ride, you are going to get tossed around, and maybe even thrown from the raft. And if that happens, we will be here for you and for your loved ones who need us.
Thank you for partnering with us! God Bless,
Brad Meuli President/CEO
The 11th annual Shopping Extravaganza is happening Saturday, September 17, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Outlets at Castle Rock.
Tickets cost $25 and include lunch, a dessert bar, entertainment, and live music! But the best part is, $12.50 from every ticket sold will help provide meals and critical services to the homeless in our community through Denver Rescue Mission.
Purchase tickets online at OutletsAtCastleRock.com. Remember to select Denver Rescue Mission as your charity!
4th Annual Sporting Clay Classic Ready, aim and fire your way into transforming the lives of individuals and families at the Mission’s 4th Annual Sporting Clay Classic.
Join other shooting sports enthusiasts on Thursday, October 13, at the Kiowa Creek Sporting Club in Bennett, Colorado, for lunch and a day of fun competition to help our homeless and struggling neighbors.
Contact Josh for more information at JLittlejohn@DenRescue.org. To register, please visit: DenverRescueMission.org/SportingClayClassic. This year’s event is proudly sponsored by:
Statistics How You Help
Golf Tournament When: Friday, September 23
Where: Broadlands Golf Course 4380 W 144th Ave Broomfield, CO 80023
Break the Cycle III
Registration, a golf cart and a delicious lunch included for just $90! Contact Lisette at 303.313.2414 or Lisette@DenRescue.org to learn more.
14th Annual Harvest Farm Fall Festival Have you been to the Mission’s fall festival at Harvest Farm? With hay wagon rides, a corn maze, a petting zoo, and lots of fun for you and your family, you don’t want to miss it! Come enjoy fun activities, tasty food and more. It’s great for field trips, corporate parties and small groups too.
They did it! On July 17, our brave team of eight cyclists completed Break the Cycle III, a 750-mile cycling endurance adventure to raise funds for meals at the Mission. Thanks to the generous support of our community, we raised $120,000 through this event. That’s more than 60,000 meals to help break the cycle of poverty in the lives of people experiencing homelessness in Denver! Thank you for your encouragement and support.
Harvest Farm Rural rehabilitation program near Fort Collins
Clinic services provided
Denver Rescue Mission Outreaches
Champa House Residential facility offering long-term help toward self-sufficiency to single mothers with dependent children
Clothing distributed (lbs.)
Learn more and buy your tickets online at HarvestFarm.net/Fall-Festival.
Lawrence Street Shelter Overnight shelter for men, chapel and health clinic
Nights of shelter provided
The Festival is open Friday - Sunday throughout the month of October.
Lawrence Street Community Center Meals, restrooms, showers, washing machines and dryers, clean drinking water, and access to Mission staff for encouragement and guidance
YTD (fiscal year)
Fort Collins Rescue Mission Meals, shelter and transitional programs
The Crossing Transitional program for families and rehabilitation program for men
Changing Lives is the monthly news publication of Denver Rescue Mission. Director of Communications: Christine Gallamore Designer: Rachel Titus Writer: Robert Bogan
Ministry Outreach Center Central warehouse facility including food, clothing and furniture distribution Administration & Education Entry point for Mission programs and home to the Mission’s administrative and development staff Family Services Transitional program, assistance for permanent housing, and mentoring
P.O. Box 5164 • Denver, CO 80217 • 303.297.1815