The first event I ever shot for Denver Rescue Mission was the winter graduation ceremony (you can read it here). I remember feeling a little nervous and overwhelmed, but so encouraged by all of our graduates. There was cheering and tears all around.
Well today was my first spring ceremony and it did not disappoint. In the prayer with the graduates before the ceremony began, Brad Meuli (CEO and President) said, “Today is one of the best days we have at Denver Rescue Mission.” And you could feel the palpable happiness in the room. We see a lot of hard stuff, but it makes the good stuff that much better.
One of the speakers was Don, a former program participant and current coworker of mine at Denver Rescue Mission. I’ve known him for months, shared meals with him and interacted with him on a daily basis. I feel like I know him fairly well. But to hear the details of his story were incredible. I found myself coughing to choke back tears the whole time.
The other speaker was a local worship leader who has a story similar to a lot of our program participants. He rejoices in almost eight years of sobriety and encouraged our participants and graduates that they, too, can achieve their goals and the lives they seek. I was honored to sit with and photograph such strong individuals who have overcome so much.
The second speaker talked about how all of us are at a different point in our stories. Today we celebrated some really significant events, but communally acknowledged that some people are still in the thick of it, enduring some hard times. And that is the miracle of Denver Rescue Mission. The community is here to celebrate, lift up, guide, and encourage people at any stage of life, at any point in their story.
I’m reminded of the quote, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” It was incredible to see people come up victorious today.