Over the past 10 years, the Denver Rescue Mission has sent nearly 800 New Life Program participants to Buena Vista where they experience a four hour rafting trip on the Arkansas River.
The jolting movement, unforgiving rapids and constant loud noise of whitewater slamming against the inflatable raft seem minor compared to the stories behind the lives of the men and women that have recently joined the Denver Rescue Mission’s New Life Program.
Each year the Wilderness Aware Rafting Company donates two days where approximately 40 Denver Rescue Mission programs participants will attend each day and learn rafting skills on the Brown Canyon of the Arkansas River.
“The guides were helpful and we learned a lot, mostly how not to drown. It was nice to get out of our structured schedule for the day and do something new for a change. I took a lot of pictures, even the drive was beautiful” Abraham Wilson, Phase 2 program participant, said. “Everything about the trip was fun and the weather was great.”
One obstacle to overcome while in rehabilitation is the ability to set goals. Participants on the raft trip have set a big goal, to survive the rapids just as they can survive their addictions. The New Life Program is holistic, and whitewater rafting down Brown’s Canyon of the Arkansas River is great therapy for these men and women.
The New Life Program contains a total of five phases and provides a community-oriented environment for Denver Rescue Mission program participants to gain the skills, stability and self-esteem necessary to become productive, self-sufficient members of society.
“We all had a very good time. It was the first time some of guides had a live group in their rafts and they did great.” New Life Program Phase 1 participant Rick Brown said “We were witness to God’s creation in all the beautiful scenery and I feel lucky to have been a part of it.”
Just a couple of months ago, some of these men and women were living on the streets in a world of addiction. Now they are on exciting whitewater rapids known as Pinball and Zoom-Flume.
“I took everything I have learned while in the program and applied to this rafting trip. It was a powerful experience, the water was cold, the cliffs were high and the people were informative and friendly. I think we joked the entire time,” said Sage Enos in Phase 1.