By the time Jere was in his forties, he had struggled for decades with alcoholism, drug addiction and homelessness.
“I was just totally burned out and wanted to die,” he said. “One night I even tried to take my life.”
After three years spent in shelters and rehab programs in Denver, Jere entered the New Life Program at Springs Rescue Mission. Since his graduation in 2014, he has rebuilt relationships with him family and now works in the Mission’s maintenance department.
“Now, I can be there for my kids with whatever they’re going through, and I can be there for the folks at the Mission,” he said.
Jere, now 52, spoke with us recently to tell his story of recovery and redemption.
When did you first start struggling with addiction?
I was 13 or 14. Once I decided to drink, I was in trouble. … I was hanging with the wrong crowd. First it was weed, then pills, and then heroin. I knew I had a problem and I was 16 the first time I tried to get help.
When did you start a family?
I was 20 and in college at University of Arkansas. I fell in love, got married and we had three kids together. I love my kids. The greatest thing in my life was getting married and having them. To feel like I missed that time with them and maybe led them in the wrong direction — that’s a hard pill to swallow.
Were you still drinking and using drugs?
Oh, yeah. Things fell apart. We got a divorce. I lost my home and my kids when they were teenagers. I tried to go to a rehab and got kicked out. I got into a sober house and got kicked out. I just couldn’t stop.
How did you become homeless?
I was staying in some motels with some shady people and my family decided they were going to come pick me up and help me. They took me to the Denver Rescue Mission. I tried making it through their [addiction recovery] program, but my addiction just kept going. I kept getting kicked out of programs and shelters, to the point there was nowhere else to go.
How did you end up at in the New Life Program at Springs Rescue Mission?
I was just totally burned out and wanted to die. One night I even tried to take my life. I didn’t succeed, thank God. … I didn’t have any place to go. They offered me a space in the New Life Program and I took it.
What was your experience like in the New Life Program?
I couldn’t have been happier to be in this place. I had been reading the Bible more and learning how to transform my life, and that really took off when I got here. I loved the faith part of it and think that’s the biggest reason I’m where I am today. … The camaraderie with the guys was great. It felt like family. It changed my life spiritually. I just don’t ever want to be in that place again. Now, I can be there for my kids with whatever they’re going through, and I can be there for the folks at the Mission.
How did you end up working for the Mission?
After I graduated, I had a couple part-time jobs that weren’t really going anywhere. In 2017, the Mission offered me a job working in the shelter, and I took it. … I loved it. I got really close to the homeless people because I understand. From there, I worked off and on as a houseman in the New Life Program. Then about a year ago, I got the opportunity to work in maintenance. I’ve learned a lot and really feel like I can fix things now. I’ve started to believe in myself a little more.
What do you like about your job?
I enjoy it here, and I love homeless people. They keep me grounded. … I’ve learned a lot about maintenance and feel like I can fix things now. I’ve started to believe in myself a little more.
What is your favorite thing about life these days?
That I’m alive. I’m not homeless. I run a sober house. But number one is my faith. I’m just so thankful for God. I love being where I’m at because of the people who are here. Because I’m just a second from going back to all that. … I just never want to feel that hopeless again.
Consistently provide nutritious meals, a bed and compassionate care for neighbors in need by becoming a Good Samaritan Sponsor today! For just $25 a month, you’ll help transform the life of a homeless man or woman in Colorado Springs.
Visit springsrescuemission.org/gss to learn more.