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.
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