For 30 years, Steve sought refuge from his stress and social anxiety in alcohol, but he was never satisfied. Then he found Fort Collins Rescue Mission and a new place of refuge, thanks to you.

"“Steps to Success is the perfect program for my situation. Fort Collins Rescue Mission has provided me with an opportunity to get stable and begin my own life,” he says.

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Nearly every morning, Steve walks from Fort Collins Rescue Mission to Starbucks at the corner of Walnut and College. It’s not a far walk—a quarter of a mile, if that. “I go there at around 5:00 a.m.—except for Sunday mornings—that’s my day to sleep in,” he says. “I sleep till about 5:30 on Sundays.”

Five-thirty isn’t exactly “sleeping in.” But for Steve, mornings aren’t just a time of day, they are the place where he finds peace and prepares for what’s ahead. “I check emails, check some art sites that I’m a member of, go through my finances, and check my budget. I just meditate and get ready for the day.”

He sits at the same table every morning—the small wooden one to the left of the entrance, right in front of the window. He enjoys the alone time and the Italian roast. And sometimes, as he sits there at his table, he draws.

Art has always been a part of Steve’s life. Growing up, his grandmother took him to an art club. Once a month, he found himself in a group with his grandma and her friends, learning how to paint and draw. As he grew older, art became a refuge for Steve. “It was the place I went to for inspiration and for letting out my emotions,” he says.

Recently, after he went through his emails and finished his budget, he got out a piece of blank paper and began to draw what he saw in front of him.

“I created this scene from where I sat in my chair. I just started drawing, and the concept began to develop a little bit. I got some colored pencils and added color. But it didn’t turn out like I wanted it too, so I was very disappointed—I tend to be a perfectionist. It’s taken me a long time to realize this, and sometimes I forget, but I think the best thing about art is the imperfection of it. So, with that in mind, I gave my drawing to the manager of the store, and now she’s going to hang it up in the coffee shop.”

Today, if you walk into the Starbucks at the corner of Walnut and College, you will see Steve’s drawing. But this isn’t a story about that drawing; it’s a story about Steve and the places he finds refuge.

As a child, he was considered different, not like the rest of his classmates. “Growing up, I was shy and uncomfortable around people. I preferred to be by myself, which is why art was so important to me,” he says.

For much of his life, Steve lived with discomfort and anxiety around people. But one day, after his second or third beer, he found himself feeling more confident, more social. “I didn’t drink until I was in my mid-twenties. I remember the first time, noticing how the alcohol relaxed me—I was always so uptight and nervous around people, but when I was drinking, I was more comfortable. So, all of the places that I used to avoid—clubs and bars—I found myself going to and drinking at.”

For the next 30 years, Steve sought a refuge from his stress and social anxiety in alcohol.

When his first marriage was beginning to unravel, he turned to drinking for support. When his second marriage started to feel like too much, he grabbed a few beers. “Eventually, the drinking caught up with me, and after 12 years, my second wife said ‘Enough is enough.’ I was in rehab when she served me the divorce papers—I felt like a little lost puppy.”

That happened in 2008. Since then, Steve has been in and out of homelessness for 10 years.

“Homelessness is very insecure,” he says. “Sometimes you’re not sure where you’re going to sleep that night. When I lived in my car, I was always concerned if I was going to be able to stay there all night, if someone was going to make me move, or if someone was going to break in and try to rob me. It’s hard.”

But your donation will provide a better refuge for Steve. For the last eight months, he has found a haven in Fort Collins Rescue Mission.

He’s enrolled in our Steps to Success program, a transitional service that focuses on getting people off the street and into a more sustainable living situation.

Most participants enrolled in Steps to Success have jobs and are seeking a place to live while being held accountable to save money and maintain sobriety. Case managers work with participants and help them find affordable housing, create a budget and get involved in the community.

“The program helped me put together a healthy savings account,” says Steve. “I want to get back to being a responsible citizen, and the Mission is helping me do that—I’m making friends in the community. I’m going to church and meeting people. I’m maintaining a job, and most importantly, I’ve quit drinking.”

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Steve's story was featured in the June 2018 issue of Changing Lives titled “A Place of Refuge”

Also in this issue:

  • Letter from the CEO
  • Harvest Farm is Celebrating 30 Years!

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