“When a person is truly ready to change, Catholic Charities will provide everything you need to change your life.”
As a good student from an upper-middle-class family, Russell never expected to find himself living on the streets, but when he began drinking at the age of 16, alcohol began to consume his life. While he made it to college, he soon dropped out due to his addiction.
A few years later, at the age of 21, he began attending Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings and got his addiction under control. He went back to college, graduated with a bachelor’s in Anthropology, completed law school, passed the bar exam, and even got engaged; but after five years of sobriety, the stress of it all led him back to old habits. He began drinking again, his fiancée left him, and Russell hit rock bottom, turning not only to alcohol but also to drugs.
Russell decided he needed a fresh start and came to Colorado Springs. He attempted to transfer his law license but was still caught in the cycle of addiction. After being arrested for shoplifting, his application for a Colorado law license was suspended and his plans were ruined. He knew sobriety was the only way to get back on his feet, and he knew he would need help.
Russell had visited Catholic Charities before for help with food, clothing, and other necessities, so he had also heard about the Life Skills at the Hanifen Employment Center. He knew they could help him find a job if he could prove he was ready. He began attending AA meetings again and with the help of his life skills coaches, he secured a job and stable housing. After working for over a year, he fell back into addiction and lost his job. For the next two years, he was in and out of shelters.
Russell knew he needed to make a permanent change in his life. He remembered how the staff at Catholic Charities had seen him as an individual and went out of their way to help him succeed, so he asked the staff at Catholic Charities for help once again. They provided bus tickets, food, clothing for interviews, job-hunting assistance, and the necessities they knew he needed to gain stability once again.
“When a person is truly ready to change, Catholic Charities will provide everything you need to change your life,” said Russell. “They saw me as an individual and not just another number or allotment. If I could show that I was taking the steps to get a job, they would get me what I needed to succeed and soften the blow to potential employers about me being homeless.”
Russell said, “Catholic Charities staff have been great, positive role models,” and have been a crucial part of him achieving stability in his life. He now attends church multiple times every week, is back in AA meetings, and was able to secure a job working in construction. He recently moved out of the shelter and into a rented room and hopes to hold his current job for the next year to demonstrate reliability. Eventually, he wants to utilize his law degree in some capacity and is hopeful for the future.
At Catholic Charities, we respect everyone who comes to us for help. Many are working toward a fresh start in life. So while their stories are true, client names and images may have changed to protect their privacy.