As far back as he can remember, Robert’s life lacked a sense of stability and control.Robert was the only son of parents who struggled with addiction, incarceration and homelessness for most of their lives.“I remember being seven years old and staying in the homeless shelter,” he said. “My mom did a very good job at making me feel loved. I didn’t understand the impact of being on the streets and not having the structure that some kids had.”By the time he was 10 years old, Robert had lived in five states, attended 11 elementary schools and been removed from his mother’s custody to live with his grandmother in Colorado Springs.
“At the time, it just seemed normal to keep being tossed around to different family members,” he said. “That was just the dynamic. But I think I realized later that it wasn’t OK — that it was hard on me.”As he grew older, Robert battled demons similar to those of his parents. A string of serious traumas, arrests and an addiction to meth left him unable to function. He became homeless in his early twenties — this time, he was alone on the streets and slept in parks.“There was a lot of homelessness, couch-surfing, jail time,” he said. “I was five when I tried my first beer, then 10 when I smoked pot for the first time. Later, it was partying and smoking dope. … I was always trying to create that feeling of a controlled reality.”
But that’s not where Robert’s story ends.
Robert came to Springs Rescue Mission for help in early 2021. It was his last chance to clean up before doing serious prison time.
“I decided I couldn’t do it anymore — I didn’t want to run anymore,” he said. “The judge looked at me and said, ‘this is your last shot.’”
Robert joined the New Life Program (men’s residential addiction recovery) and for a year he worked to improve his physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. When he graduated in April, a crowd gathered to celebrate Robert and his amazing growth.“The word I would use to describe Robert is ‘perseverance,’” said one SRM staff member. “He is a perfect example of the transformation that can happen here if you do the work and trust God. And Robert has done that.”One of his many accomplishments while in the program was to train with a local group of first-time runners and run a half-marathon in Denver last fall, which he successfully completed. He plans to do the same this year.
“That was a big deal to me,” he said. “It may seem like a small thing — but it meant something to me that I could actually do that.”
These days, Robert lives in a Christian sober home and is working an internship in the Mission’s distribution center. He spends his days joyfully receiving donations and distributing them to those in need. He is an incredible example of a life transformed by God.“I realized how desperate I was to be closer to God,” he said. “And over time, God has revealed to me that he is closer than I could ever imagine. … I want to follow God and grow deeper with Him in all aspects of my life: in work and personal life; in pleasure and in pain.”