“All my life I’ve been alone, and for the first time, it feels like I have family. I’m not scared of being alone anymore,” says Dallas.

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Dallas never believed in himself. At age 4, he endured traumatic abuse from his grandmother. At age 13, his mother left him to fend for himself. At age 17, he dropped out of high school when his grandfather fell ill. His grandfather was his only family, and Dallas desperately needed him. After two years of caring for one another, his grandfather passed away. Dallas turned to drugs and alcohol to escape. “I wanted to end my own life. I didn’t care if I got hurt or died. I was very heavily addicted to meth and alcohol,” he says. He lived this way for years, eventually going to prison for various crimes he had committed. He was in prison for 10 years.

When Dallas got out, he met a woman and they quickly married. He found a job working with computers in Fort Collins. He was in love and happy for the first time in his life. But the marriage unraveled as rapidly as it started, and his wife left. He reverted to his old ways and one morning, he was found unconscious in the parking lot of his work. He lost everything and again thought about suicide.

Gradually, Dallas found that self-confidence was a key factor in his sobriety. In the fall of 2012, he found a job working at a hotel. He felt worthy of living his life and got sober. But due to many years of drug use, his body was deteriorating. He suffered from two ruptured disks in his back. One day on his way home from work, he took a hard step and immediately knew something wasn’t right. The next morning, he couldn’t walk.

He couldn’t keep his job because of the pain, which caused him to lose another apartment. Terrified of relapsing again, Dallas came to Fort Collins Rescue Mission in November 2012.

When he arrived, Dave Collins, the Mission’s facility assistant, welcomed him with open arms. “The kindness they showed and how they supported me—I felt like I wasn’t alone. I wasn’t going to end up on the streets and die,” says Dallas. But he was still in extreme pain, and the staff referred him to a free clinic, where he met a gracious neurosurgeon. After one MRI, the doctor told him his disks were pinching his sciatic nerve, which could eventually lead to paralysis.

Dallas had four surgeries. He's recovering at the Mission, physically and emotionally. “If it wasn’t for the Mission, I would probably be dead. I wouldn’t have had surgery, and I wouldn’t be walking. I would have given up and used meth until it killed me. It would have been better than suffering with the pain,” he explains.

He is in job training in the Mission's Steps to Success program, doing housekeeping work and nightly registration, going to classes each night, and church each Sunday. “The classes are really strengthening my walk with the Lord. Instead of turning to drugs, I’m turning to Him, and I’ve never done that before,” Dallas says softly. “It’s a new way to deal with my life instead of using.”

In 2007, when Dallas went to school and received an associate’s degree in Computer Technology, he was setting himself up for a bright future. He has never lost a passion for computer technology, and now, with the support of his Mission family, he’s ready to pursue his career again.

“What’s cool is, having someone believe in you makes you believe in yourself,” Dallas grins from ear to ear. “I actually have hope!”

CLN July 2013

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Dallas story was featured in the July 2013 issue of Changing Lives titled "Finding Family"

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