This summer, I went down to our Lawrence Street Shelter with some coworkers to serve lunch. We met so many people that day, but one stuck out to me more than others.
We met Garry, a Program Candidate who had just been told that he was accepted into the New Life Program and would be moving to The Crossing. He was ecstatic. He had diligently worked at the shelter, in the kitchen, for over a month, waiting for a spot in the program. He was ready to get his life back on track. He wanted to be involved in his children’s lives and he wanted to pursue his dream of having his own restaurant. He was open and honest about the demons he was fighting. It was so touching to see someone express such hopeful desperation.
I didn’t see Garry for a couple months. This fall, I went looking for him because he had left such an impression on me. I wanted to check in and possibly write a story about him. I was sure it would be a success story. I was devastated to find out that Garry had left the program. I was so certain he would be one to make it through and really turn his life around.
I wasn’t wrong. A couple weeks ago, I went down to the shelter again. And guess who was there?! Garry! I saw him and immediately felt relief, coupled with excitement. His face lit up. He ran out of the kitchen and as soon as I said hello, he broke down. He couldn’t believe I remembered him. He couldn’t believe how many people were rooting for him. He said: “I had no idea how many people cared that I made it. I had no idea I had this community surrounding me.” Through tears, he explained that this time was different. He feels surrounded and lifted up.
I work for a place and for people who believe in second and third chances. It is beautiful to see people come back to us, hungry for more than a plate of food. Denver’s homeless and hurting are starving for the love of Jesus Christ. Praise the Lord that there is a place to come where they can get both.
Before I left, I asked Garry a slightly awkward question. I asked him if I could take a photo of him in such raw state of emotion. I wanted to remember that moment, but I especially wanted him to remember the promise he was making to himself. He promised he was going to complete the program. And I believe him.
Join us in prayer and petition for the men and women in our programs. What they are doing is not easy work.