Estrangement

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Coronado Family, Denver CO

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Joseph and Rhonda enrolled in the STAR Transitional Program at The Crossing in November 2011 after 22 years of marriage.

They needed something affordable for themselves and their youngest daughter, Jazzmin. They were also seeking help for Joseph's alcoholism and their relationship after years of growing apart.

"We raised five children together. I ran my own business and gave the other part of my life to alcohol. Rhonda was there for the kids all the time. Too many years of that finally caught up to us. We let the problems we acquired sit on the back burner," explains Joseph.

He continues: "Eventually, I couldn't work anymore. I was addicted. For years, we moved each month, not being able to pay rent. My wife couldn't pay the bills by herself. We ended up in hotels. We had nowhere to go."

When they moved into The Crossing, they were assigned case managers they could talk to about resources. But for Rhonda, it was much more. She developed a close relationship with Yolanda, a STAR Transitional Program case manager. Yolanda was able to speak some hard truth into Rhonda's life when she needed it most. "She always gave support and the right words. Whether I needed to hear 'You can do it!' or 'What are you doing?,' she would tell me," says Rhonda.

Throughout counseling and weekly meetings, both Rhonda and Joseph realized that a lot of their problems stemmed from their childhoods. Rhonda had an alcoholic mother who left when she was six. Joseph didn't get along with his stepfather and he left his home at the age of 14. When they met, they buried their old lives to try to start a new one.

"It was only five months from the time we shared the first puff of a cigarette until the Justice of the Peace. We were kids," says Joseph.

Though they had struggles, they stuck together. Both were focused on giving their children a different sense of family than they experienced. They wanted to break the cycle of separation they saw in their own childhoods and have a family that communicates. Jazzmin learned to do just that in the Denver Broncos Youth Center at The Crossing.

"Before we lived there, I was shy and to myself. I didn't want anyone to talk to me. I felt ashamed. But now I'm willing to convey my experience. It's a part of my life, so why change it?" says Jazzmin. She sees a similar change in her parents: "I can celebrate our understanding of one another. Their fights don't escalate like they used to."

They achieved this closeness by first working on themselves as individuals and then putting the pieces together as a family. Rhonda says: "Being at The Crossing helped me recognize the fact that something needed to be done. I've been depressed my entire life—I started to work on that while getting counseling because of Joseph's addictions." Joseph agrees: "I had problems stemming from my youth that were never found. The Crossing helped with identifying more personal issues than just my alcoholism."

And they both acknowledge that there are obstacles on the road to recovery and stability. "But if it wasn't for The Crossing, we wouldn't be this far in the process. We were trying the same pattern over and over again. Now we are communicating. I feel hope. Two years ago, there was no hope," says Rhonda. They also built their faith together, "I trust more in God now. I don't try to control situations anymore. I learned that at The Crossing. It's in His hands, not ours," she says.

Joseph is trying to get his business back, doing interior painting and muraling. "It's going to be a family business this time," says Joseph, who hopes to hire his older sons as he schedules more jobs. "I'm looking forward to the day that I can hand Rhonda the keys to her house. When we got married, I promised her I would help her raise her kids, I would buy her a house, and I would always be there for her. I haven't given up on my promises," he says.

Joseph and Rhonda graduated from the STAR Transitional Program in November 2012. They have been in their own apartment for seven months, growing closer all the time. Two of their sons and Joseph's grandmother moved into the apartment below them, giving them even more community to thrive in. Jazzmin is playing competitive softball, and her games double as family time with her parents, siblings, and nieces and nephews gathering on the sidelines to cheer her on. "Now we're always together, as a family. We got closer as we were falling apart," Jazzmin says.

– See more at: http://www.denverrescuemission.org/drm/stories/stories-coronado-family#sthash.MF8KkXKk.dpuf


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David, Denver CO

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In the beauty surrounding Fort Collins’ Horsetooth Reservoir, Dave and four-year-old son David IV, otherwise known as “D,” cast their fishing lines into the water below. Most days they leave with nothing more than a few bites, but Dave doesn’t care. The New Life Program graduate relishes lazy afternoons with his son, “a cute little guy,” who is one of Dave’s main motivations to win the battle against alcohol abuse.

Before coming to Harvest Farm, a Mission outreach that combats substance abuse through counseling, spiritual encouragement and work therapy, Dave was drowning in his responsibilities as a father. Between the care his son required after a debilitating bout with spinal meningitis, the pressure of providing as a single parent, and his scarce relationship with daughter Lexie, 10, he found himself trying to calm the chaos with weekend binges.

“I started checking into Harvest Farm after I missed trick-or-treating with my son; I got so drunk that I blacked out and didn’t even realize the night before was Halloween,” Dave painfully recalls. “I felt so much guilt and shame that I knew I had to change.”

On May 16, 2009, just three days into his life-changing stay at the Farm, Dave was forced to deal with the death of his estranged father. Knowing his father’s absence and alcoholism had contributed to his own short-comings as a parent, Dave used the devastating news as an incentive to avoid a similar fate. With his mom taking care of “D” nearby, he made a commitment to invest himself fully in the program.

“I knew there was something special about Dave when his father died early in his stay, and he resolutely determined not to go to the funeral because it would mean leaving the program,” Dave’s chaplain, Dave Sterner, says. “His son is the light of his life, and he can’t imagine how he let alcohol get in the way of that relationship.”

Captivated by Chaplain Sterner’s animated and enlightening Bible studies, Dave’s outlook and relationship with God began to flourish. As his confidence grew, he went on to earn his GED, to enroll in Front Range Community College—earning an Applied Science Degree in welding, and to work full time in his uncle’s cement business.

“I love reading the Bible, and I love my new life; the Holy Spirit has worked in me!” Dave says with a smile. “I want to raise my son in church and give him the things I never had.”

Dave graduated from the New Life Program in July, and has chosen to stay close to the Farm while he completes the outreach’s post-graduate program. He’s found a roommate in fellow graduate and single dad Jason, and is excited to begin renewing his relationship with daughter Lexie.

“Two of my goals when I came to the Farm were to leave knowing Jesus and to have my relationship with my daughter back,” Dave says. “I’m in such a better place and much more responsible as a dad; I can’t thank the Denver Rescue Mission enough for what they’ve done for me and my family!”

“Dave came to the Farm with a high degree of motivation to stay sober,” Chaplain Dave Sterner recalls. “His ability and desire to learn has given him the necessary wisdom to be effective and righteous in his new life.”

“I love welding, and I really feel like I’m accomplishing something by going to school,” Dave says proudly. “I can’t believe how many things the Farm has helped me do just in the last year!”

“I have so much love and respect for my mom,” Dave says. “She’s been such a huge help taking care of my son, and I know that she really sees the difference in me.” – See more at: http://www.denverrescuemission.org/stories/david#sthash.eZjOjPHG.dpuf


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Lisa, Denver CO

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Lisa was always good at making money. It seemed that everything she tried, she did well. She succeeded effortlessly and made a comfortable living by the young age of 17. She met her husband at work, fell in love and got married.

But after her wedding, Lisa worried about her appearance. She restricted food and overexercised to lose weight. Four years after giving birth to her two daughters, her marriage fell apart and her relationship with food took another turn. She began purging everything she ate. Eventually, the habit took control over her entire life. "It's an addiction like anything else. When I was done with all my obligations for the day, I would turn on the TV, sit and eat, binging and purging until I went to sleep at night," says Lisa.

Her health was failing as well as her relationships with those around her. After spending most of her fortune on expensive houses, vehicles and vacations, her savings account dwindled. “At that time, I was running my own mortgage company. Though I was doing really well, I was spending over $100 a day on food. I was a workaholic, negating my responsibilities as a parent,” says Lisa. Her eating disorder became so severe that she couldn’t think straight and could barely work. In 2006, she weighed 80 pounds and was waiting to die.

Lisa’s daughters, then in high school, wanted nothing to do with her. For the next three years she was in and out of treatment facilities and hospitals. There were months when Lisa would be in a facility and her daughters lived alone in her small, rented apartment. “I have so many letters from doctors saying that I wasn’t going to make it. My heart was failing,” says Lisa. Her only thoughts revolved around food and her daughters.

Finally, out of money, with no way to pay the next month’s rent or to afford her eating habits, Lisa sought help. She heard about the STAR Transitional Program offered at The Crossing. She had three weeks until her rent was due. In May 2012, she went to The Crossing and was put on a waiting list. Just days before facing eviction, she was able to move in.

“I was so scared and nervous. I came here wanting to maintain my lifestyle. I couldn't imagine a day without binging and purging, but I had no other place to go,” says Lisa. She did try to keep her old habits. But one of the requirements of the program is that each participant meet with a counselor. Loyce, a volunteer counselor at the Mission, began meeting with Lisa each week. “I met Loyce and loved her. She is an amazing mentor. She prayed for me, and one morning I woke up and decided, ‘I’m not doing this anymore.’ All of her prayers were heard,” says Lisa.

By August 2012, Lisa had stopped binging and purging and felt free from that burden for the first time in 15 years: “The Crossing played a bigger role in that than anybody did. It was the community, as well as the support that I had from the staff…there were people I was able to reach out to. The Crossing made me realize what life is all about.”

Lisa’s biggest loss in the last 15 years was her relationship with her daughters. They moved out, started college and became young women. It crushed her that she wasn’t a part of their lives. But as she continued to grow and heal, they saw changes in her. In October 2012 Lisa met with her oldest daughter, Arielle, for lunch. At the end of that meal Arielle looked at Lisa with tears in her eyes and said, “Mom, I see hope.” Lisa felt it, too.

Now, she sees her daughters twice a month when they visit her at The Crossing: “The fact that I have this relationship with my daughters—I couldn't ask for anything more. It's like heaven on earth. And it just keeps getting better. This is what community does. It's so powerful,” says Lisa.

In five years, Lisa sees herself closer than ever with her daughters. She sees herself healthy, living in community, having a Bachelor’s Degree in Urban Missions, and working with children. “Getting my degree has nothing to do with money. I want a simple life and I want to teach children,” says Lisa. The Crossing provides the opportunity for STAR participants to earn a degree on-line through City Vision College. Lisa plans to take advantage of this program and start classes in the next few months!

For now, she’s volunteering at a children’s center every week, feeling more fulfilled than ever before: “Through it all, my whole life, I never felt like God left my side. If there is something going on beyond my control, I let go and let God. Whenever I've prayed, I've always gotten an answer.”

– See more at: http://www.denverrescuemission.org/drm/stories/stories-lisa#sthash.lkTo6QB9.dpuf


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