I've pretty much worked my whole life, you know, since the time I was about 15. I’m 61 now. It’s only been the last year or so that I haven’t been able to work. And I’ve been homeless off and on for 10 years, about 11 years. Last year I was sleeping outside, and I ended up getting some frostbite on my feet. I had all of my toes amputated off of my left foot and some damage to the bottom of my right foot. I’ve never had an injury take so long to heal. It’s been over a year and yet the wound persists. Before I was here (RW), wherever I was, changing the dressing was impossible. Infection has been a big worry for me. (Living on the street) was a challenge because of the fact that I had nowhere safe to keep my dressing supplies. This is where RecoveryWorks has truly been a godsend for me, I’m serious when I say that. You know, everyone that works here… the love, respect and helpfulness… everyone’s been so supportive.”
“I was working in sales when I became homeless. It was when the banks had imploded, there were so many problems in the economy, and being in sales I was very adversely affected by that. You know, because it was car sales. You just couldn’t find a lender without huge stipulations. In the last 10 years, I’ve gotten some temporary jobs. Some out of the day labor places. Which is hit or miss, sometimes you get work, sometimes they just say they don’t have anything. And between the banks, bad luck… it comes together for the perfect storm. It snowballs. What starts off as an inconvenience turns into a big problem. And there’s shame to it. No one wants to come out and say I’m homeless. It’s not something you wear a badge of honor about. Because nobody chooses to be homeless, not in my experience.”
“Every one of us has a story of why we’re here. I’ve been homeless for 7 years. I lost my job, I lost my car, I lost my home because I lost my job. I couldn’t pay for anything. My son’s dad doesn’t pay child support regularly. I never imagined myself here, homeless on Colfax. Some people take a look at what happens out here and say it’s fun and games, it’s not fun and games.
It sucks. Don’t underestimate anyone, don’t judge anyone until you walk in their shoes. I’m trying to take the steps I have to, I just have to take it day by day. I want to get my CAC (certified addiction counselor) license back. I did that work for 3 years until things started to fall apart for me. I love helping people. That’s what I do.
People are sometimes too proud to ask for help. At first I felt like I was too good. But then I asked myself “Am I too good or am I afraid to ask for help?” I’ve always done everything by myself and then with the situation I was in, I just got deeper and deeper and deeper, and [RecoveryWorks] reached out to me. And no one’s ever done that for me before. I can’t tell you what I would have done without RecoveryWorks. The people that work here really do try to help us, they absolutely do what they can. But we all make our choices, if you want to change then you have to ask for help. No one knows what you want unless you ask. There’s a lot of opportunity here if you sit down and take the time. Don’t be shy about it, don’t be afraid to ask.”
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Jefferson County Public Health has awarded RecoveryWorks with the Public Health Champion of the Year Award for our work in engaging some of our most vulnerable neighbors in an array of services including acute Medical Respite