Written By Danielle Charbonneau Public Relations Intern
Happy Father’s Day from Denver Rescue Mission!
One of the most beautiful things we see here at the Mission is when a father, after having been separated from his kids, begins to reestablish connection. Sometimes the separation is physical, others just emotional; sometimes it is caused by addiction, other times by divorce, jail or homelessness. Regardless of the circumstances, each and every story of reunion is profoundly heart-warming. In honor of Father’s Day, we’d like to share one of those stories with you. LaJosh Castille has been working diligently to have his kids back in his life, and to be the father he’s always wanted to be. This is his story:
LaJosh Vincente Castille grew up in a loving church family in Five Points as the middle child of three. His mom and dad were very spiritual and active members of the church; his grandmothers shook their fingers at him and told him to “stay in church son.”
He had a natural curiosity about religion, spirituality and the world — in his youth he studied Judaism and explored world religions. He called himself a “truth seeker” and was teased by his older brother’s friends for always carrying around a backpack full of books. To this day, a close friend still calls him “The Professor.”
“I just always had that ambition to learn and teach and be an educator. To be educated means so much more than to have a degree,” he said.
“The word educate actually comes from the Latin root word ‘educe,’” he continued, his inner professor coming out. “It means to bring out, or draw out. A person who is educated knows how to embody what they’ve learned.”
And this seemed to be exactly LaJosh’s problem: Even though he had a clear propensity for learning, he couldn’t quite seem to apply his knowledge. When he graduated from high school, his intellect alone couldn’t push him to reach his full potential. Instead, he landed a job at Home Depot, where he was working when he became a father. Struggling to stay afloat, he got another job as a restroom attendant in a nightclub, wearing a suit and handing out cologne and mints in the men’s room. When that “started to get dangerous,” and Home Depot laid him off, LaJosh became jobless…then homeless.
He couch-hopped at first, staying with his mom on occasion and with friends on others. But when that got old, he found a spot in a city stairwell and another at Union Station. He would wake up early in the morning, take a shower at the St. Francis homeless resource center, visit his kids at their mother’s and look for work. He even enrolled in school and started taking classes full-time at ITT Technical College in Criminal Justice.
“No one could tell I was homeless,” LaJosh said. “I still dressed nice, would go to the library, had a resume and was looking for work.”
He would take his kids to his classes and on his job hunt with him.
“It was a lot like the Pursuit of Happyness,” he said laughing.
But after three years of living homeless, with a few temporary jobs spotted throughout, LaJosh grew weary of the lifestyle and needed an escape. He started drinking with some of his fellow street friends.
“We drank vodka and Wild Turkey — it became a social thing. We had our little spot where we’d meet up. The older guys would pass down their wisdom…tell us how we didn’t want to end up like them,” he remembered.
Drinking made the rut harder to crawl out of. He thought of his kids and knew he had to do something.
“It was all about my kids,” he said.
So he joined the New Life Program in April of 2012 and began to learn more about God and, as a result, himself: “You seek Christ, but actually Christ is always in you,” he said. “You learn who He is so you can learn who you are.”
Since joining the program LaJosh sees his kids regularly. His son, now 15, is interested in going into the Marine Academy and his daughter wants to be a ballerina. LaJosh is a proud papa — he lights up when he talks about his beautiful children, whom he carries a picture of at all times. He said he’s teaching his son the lessons he’s learned — about what it takes to be a man and how to love God and others. For his daughter, he says he’s trying to become the type of man he’d want her to marry one day.
“A daughter usually goes for someone like her father,” he said. “I want to show her what a man looks like.”
Now LaJosh has the capability to be the father — and teacher — he’s always wanted to be.
“I know I’m a teacher by birth,” he said. “But I had to teach myself first.”