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Jeremy's story   Jane's story   Layne's story   Ron's story   Joe's story   Michael's story   John's story   Shelter History  

Jeremy's Story

Jeremy speaks often about respect; respect for others, respect others have for him, and finally, respect for himself. Life has not been easy for Jeremy and it has been a long road for him to finally realize that he, himself, is worthy of respect.

It was a sweet beginning in Wisconsin, Jeremy's parents were high school sweethearts who married and had two sons. But when Jeremy was two years old, a painful divorce, abandonment by Jeremy's father, and some underlying issues sent his mother into psych care for three years. He was put into a foster care system where he faced every kind of abuse. These early scars would haunt him for decades.

His mom came through treatment ready to take her sons back. There was a happy reunion but, as often happens with an early childhood riddled with abuse and confusion, Jeremy lacked impulse control and was consumed by behavior problems. The writing was on the wall when he had to repeat kindergarten. School didn't get easier for Jeremy, as he dealt with the demons that haunted him, and his behaviors escalated. By age 13 he had accumulated multiple diagnoses including ADHD, PTSD, anxiety and depression. His antics resulted in exile into a boys home.

Jeremy returned home to live with his mother when he was 17 and, not surprisingly, fell into a bad crowd and criminal activity. By the age of 18, a theft operation landed him in prison, in maximum security. He describes it as a scary place; until you earn respect. He adapted to prison life by developing a knack for comedy. He could make people laugh during the depths of their despair. He learned that his mother was right when she taught him the worth of all people. He learned from his fellow inmates that "everybody has a heart." Those inmates had his back because he had their respect.

Over the next ten years, Jeremy was in and out of prison for non-violent offenses. During his time on the outside, it was his probation officer in whom he finally had a father figure. This bushy mustached, retired sheriff kept a hammer and a tape measure in his desk drawer. He would pull them out, lean back in his chair and ask Jeremy, "Are you ready to work yet?" He gave Jeremy a reason, and a way, to start thinking about the future. Then, while in minimum security, the prison warden saw that Jeremy had potential. Through a sponsored program, a year later he had job training in grounds-keeping and had earned college credit and a one year vocational degree.

Through this same decade, Jeremy fathered three children, had a short marriage and supported his wife while she attended college. He worked a job where he made an effort to learn Spanish and developed friendships with his coworkers.

Friendship and loyalty are strengths of Jeremy's but those traits could also work against him. Inside and outside of prison, he had a loyal friendship with Greg, a member of the Crips. When Jeremy's marriage ended he returned to Wisconsin to sort things out. His friend Greg was there. There, alcohol and drugs provided an escape from their problems and it was there that Jeremy got his first taste of meth. Greg was dealing drugs and Jeremy was in, soon to be back in prison.

Jeremy kept in touch with Greg while in prison and their friendship is still strong today. Greg's "woman" had stayed true to him through his years of trouble. When Greg got out of prison, he married her, accepted Christ, turned his life around and eventually became an ordained minister. He was there for Jeremy but Jeremy was not yet ready.

When Jeremy got out of prison, he went to Drug Court. He went before a judge weekly and stayed drug and alcohol free...for a while. He was in a co-dependent relationship with a woman and his sobriety had become based on her. He was working 60 hours a week as owner and manager of a clothing store. But when that relationship ended, so did his sobriety. Jeremy relapsed. He had blackouts and an automobile accident. He was set up in a sting operation and ended up in prison... again.

When he got out of prison this time he had back problems. The pain led to more drugs and an all time low. He became isolated and fell into the grips of heroin addiction. He had given up all hope and had finally hit rock bottom. He went into treatment in bad shape and his family was told there was no hope. Then one night he found himself in the dark, cold woods after yet another accident. It was there that he first called out to the Lord. Still, he had to pay the price and he was back in jail. There he attempted suicide and a priest was called in for his last rites, but he survived.

Some "friends" that he had kept in contact with said they would help him and that he should come to Colorado. He took them up on their offer to come but when he arrived he found that the help they offered him came in the form of drugs. He'd had enough. He checked into an addiction treatment center in Fort Collins. He slept in alleys at night and went to the program daily. He began to feel better about himself.

Then, when he was all alone, he accepted Christ. A stranger came to him and asked "Why do you try so hard?" He told him to take God into every aspect of his life. That day, Jeremy told the Lord that he would get up and fight for himself and he promised that he would walk God's path for the rest of his life.

Since that day, nearly two years have passed and Jeremy has remained sober. He remains in the care of the treatment center and Summit Stone and is accountable to and encouraged by the manager of 137 Homeless Connection, after signing a medical release of information. He has reconnected with his son and his brother who have both let him know they are proud of him. He has found employment. He is in the New Life program at 137 where he continues to grow. He has accepted his past and now makes it his mission in life to help others. He now has respect for himself as a good, loving person and sees his journey to wholeness as a miracle. As Val, the assistant manager at 137 put it, "He is blessed as he blesses others." And he tells us "Everyone back home is cheering for me!"

Jane's Story

Jane says she pictures the way her life has been like a slinky toy - bouncing around here and there. Of her 36 years, she's been homeless for the last two. When asked about the circumstances that resulted in her homelessness, she shared her life's slinky-toy-pattern. Part of the slinky-toy-bouncing was when her mom became newly involved in a religion in which a person believes that they should not own 'anything.' Consequently her mom gave up a 15 acre organic orchard from which her family marketed a reputable brand of organic apple juice in western Colorado. This organic land and business was to be an inheritance for Jane and her 4 siblings, "So we'd all have a place on this green earth."

Based on this new religion of not owning anything, her mom signed all the land and business over to her husband, Jane's stepfather. Jane had been working this land and the organic business for the last 5 years with the understanding that this was her inheritance. She invested $10,000 she had earned in establishing a structural demolition business of recycling materials into buildings, including her own 2 story house she built, on her future property inheritance. All she had was invested and located on the property now owned by her stepfather. He'd had one child with her mother and, Jane says, this child was treated like a prince. She and the rest of her siblings, Jane recounted, were treated like typical Cinderella step-children. At Christmas one year, her step-father told her, "You're not mine," meaning she was a stepdaughter. He kicked her out of the house she'd built and off the property with no compensation, upending her family,. He'd been accepting the rent she'd been paying him as well as the many hours she'd been working in the orchard.

Her description of her life's slinky-pattern continues: when she saw her real dad during her years of growing up, he'd drop her off at a sitter or leave her with a nanny at a hotel. Her parent's joint custody made for a choppy childhood. Her schooling, she says, was shuffled around like a slinky toy. She went to 28 different schools all around the country, and was not able to graduate. She was perpetually the 'new kid' in school. She did not form close relationships or develop close friends because 'she'd be moved again.' This also left big gaps in her education. In one school they'd be learning cursive, contractions and reading. In the same grade level in another school, they'd still be learning ABC's.

Now she's working on her GED. She's determined to get the education that will enable her to teach people natural ways for health. Jane says, "The people I see around me want to be whole and happy, to work together on betterment projects. I've wanted this since I was a child." Those of us a 137 Connection have observed this vision of hers in action from the first day she walked through our door. She told us she saw in us a community that cares, that was connected, a support group where she could pitch in and be a part of something. "I loved the chores here - the sweeping, folding the towels - it was being a part of something. I had a purpose. I was accomplishing something. I felt it was a gift to have chores. We were working together like a family. We'd all come in dirtying the place and then take turns cleaning it up."

Her excitement showed when she found an outdoor garden in the back of the building her first day at 137 Connection. She began asking questions about gardening and started pulling weeds. A few days later, she got out her organic seeds. Right from the onset, she envisioned the vegetables ripening. The people at 137 Connection harvested and enjoyed her 'visions' of delicious organic produce all this last summer. When she first arrived at 137 Connection, she explains that she was "bitter of mind and cold in her heart." She was more angry than she realized about the fact she'd lost everything at the hands of her loved ones. Here at 137 Connection she felt safe and accepted.

Prior to walking in our door during her first year of homelessness, she shared that she had drawn into her own personal internal cave. She did not want to talk to anyone. She didn't know what we were like at 137. She pictured us like teachers with big rulers ready to hit her. She didn't want to come to a homeless shelter because she was scared of people who were homeless, of the staff, and volunteers. She spent some time observing how the staff interacted with other homeless people. What was the 'pecking order' like, and who were the bosses with the rulers? She was afraid we'd be cruel and mean in judgment as far as her being homeless.

She kept telling herself she could be a loner and make it without anyone's help. She wasn't "opening herself up to being helped by teachers with rulers!" She'd already been hit with a parental ruler the size of a log. Nope. Never again! No, she wasn't going to trust people. She said her thinking was that asking or receiving help left her unprotected and vulnerable. Help wasn't safe. As her first year of being homeless progressed, she was feeling weaker and weaker. She'd come to feel it wasn't worth going on. She had no sense of being cared about or valued. Jane said that she saw other homeless people struggling harder than she was. She thought that if they could come here and get help, then so could she. Finally she came in the door of 137 Connection and, she said, found hope and strength and the will-power to keep coming.

"I felt happier when I finally came because I had access to a shower and laundry. I could cook and store some of my food. The people at the shelter made me feel like life was worth living." She said she experienced feeling more blessed and encouraged to keep striving and improving for a difference in her life. The whole staff, she said, had impacted an awakening in her of strength, feeling loved, unconditionally and without stipulations or being ridiculed.

Jane says she began praying more in gratitude and receiving more answered prayers. Before, she says, she was not really praying. "There was so much anger in my asking that I was 'throwing' my prayers at God; Help this situation get better," I'd say! "This must happen or I don't believe in you, God. I was ordering God." Now, I'm not so angry, demanding or upset. Before I would just give up and not wait for the answers to my prayers to happen in God's timing. Now I have patience and more compassion in my prayers for people and what they decide to do in their lives.

Jane said, with a smile on her face, that a major change happened inside of her during her initial interview with Val, ( Ass't director of 137 Connection). She experienced unconditional love, not the judgment and condemnation she so feared. Val helped her see her situation with the positive nature that was in her. It was then she became ready to come out of her cocoon and deal with the business of her life. As she talked about what had happened to her, things changed inside of her. She eventually realized she wasn't holding onto the anger anymore. She recognized she was compassionately saddened by her stepfather's ignorance of what he'd done to her and her family and how it had impacted them.

"In me is a helper," she says, "but before I was a helper in the wrong way. I was helping and being used, hoping they would love me, but I was getting hate, anger and frustration in return. Now I see that I am a valuable person. The people I've decided to be around are compassionate and not using me." "I have goals now. I'm getting my GED and then plan to go onto college. My vision is a non-profit Educational Learning Center where people can 'learn their way to balanced health.' I want to offer opportunities for the public in growing and preparing non-GMO and organic foods. I want to be involved in showing them how to improvise and achieve well rounded healthy living. "I want to learn as I teach and teach people who want to learn."

Layne's Story

Layne doesn't fit the typical homeless stereotype; but then again no one really does. She's smart, beautiful, educated, and stylish. She's had a career as a flight attendant and a business of her own. She helps others in the day shelter to polish up their resumes and she gives more to those that seek to help her than sometimes they can give to her.

In many ways Layne is no different than you or me. She's had a marriage, a home and a family. Any one of us could fall into her shoes- an illness, a divorce, loss of a job or a mix up with the wrong person.

Layne woke up in a hospital bed, after a month long coma, and found herself in that position. It was no longer safe to return to what she used to call home and the hospital offered nothing more than a hospital gown and a taxi ride to a Denver homeless shelter. The shelter wouldn't open for another five hours so there she stood, cold, weakened and alone.

At that shelter she found herself surrounded by women who had been long without homes. They had lost all hope and had fallen into patterns that would never bring them back.

Layne is working hard to make a new life for herself. She left that shelter and has moved out of Denver. She gets support, friendship and a place to take care of basic needs at the 137 Connection. But there are obstacles- obstacles that are common to many in her position, obstacles that are often oppressive, unreasonable, and rob people of hope. There are so many hoops to jump through- documents to produce, hours in waiting rooms and the waiting lists; some as long as years to get any help.

Layne is waiting. Disability and pain leave her well enough to do a job on some days but never well enough to hold a steady job.

Meanwhile, the weather is growing warmer. It would seem that that would be a relief and perhaps in some ways it is, but you can feel her anxiety growing. The night shelter will close and there is no legal place to sleep. Where will she hide for the night? Will she be safe? She's just trying to survive for now.

Still there is hope. One day she will get to the top of that waiting list. She'll have a place to live. She will no longer have to give all of her energy to survival and then can begin to use her talents and knowledge to build a life. And, she will have the kind of compassion that only comes from having been there.

Ron's Story

Sometimes you find heroes in the least expected places. Ron doesn't like to call himself a hero, but to his friends at 137, he is. Unexpected, well maybe.

Ron grew up in Johnstown, Colorado; one of four siblings. He was the son of a German- American nurse and a Native American father who worked in a meat packing plant. His parents valued hard work and expected their children to stay on a straight and narrow path. Ron was the oldest and his parents were harder on him. When his father drank he was "meaner" and it wasn't unusual for him to use a belt on his son when he didn't live up to his unspoken expectations. His father eventually sobered up but not until it was too late for Ron. In the mean time, Ron had the loving support of his grandparents. There was an incident at his father's work, one that Ron believes his father didn't do but that he was blamed for. It was an incident that left his mother to raise her children alone, while his father was locked up.

Ron was a teenager and became a "rebel without a cause". He ran with a rough crowd. The kind of crowd that enjoyed taking risks to an extreme and at age 15, Ron engaged in a game of Russian Roulette in which his best friend was shot and killed. He was devastated and paid the price for his part of this horror- in prison, for 18 months. Meanwhile his grandfather covered for him back at home. He returned to high school and as a senior was a first string lineman for his high school football team. His grandfather helped him to get a scholarship to attend college at the University of Nebraska. Three months later his grandfather died.

He had the promise of a better future with all his grandfather had done to help him out but with teenage angst, the loss of his best friend, time in prison and then the loss of the man who believed in him, Ron caved into the pressure and the pain. It was easier not to care. Partying was his new life style and he let that scholarship slip through his fingers. He just wanted to get away and leave it all behind.

He got away. After high school he moved to Texas and spent two years in the oil fields. But a woman brought him back to Colorado. Marriage, he thought, would finally give him peace. And it did...for a while. He supported his family by driving a truck over the road. He learned to love that lifestyle and the freedom that it gave him. He and his wife had two children but the road kept him away, a lot. That much separation can be hard on a marriage. It was his first marriage and his first divorce. There were other marriages and other divorces but it was his truck that was "the love of (his) life". "She" was always there for him, never complained and took him to 48 states. "She" was never jealous if he took off on his motorcycle. "She," and his other two trucks, were his business and his life. You see a lot of beauty and wide open spaces on the road but there's a dark side too- rough characters, illicit drugs to keep them awake, car accidents with fatalities, and shootings or, as Ron puts it, "things go on."

Life was rolling along for Ron but it was easy to forget responsibilites back home. When he forgot and missed a child support payment, his license was flagged, he was pulled over and he lost the Class A drivers license that held the space between him and homelessness. When he lost that, he lost his business and his home. Thirty-two years on the road were over. He was on the street.

Ron's parents had passed away but his grandmother was still in Loveland so he headed home. She welcomed him but was frail and when she passed away in 2011, he sold his last truck to pay for her funeral. Again, he was on the street. It was around this time that Ron came to the 137 Connection. He had given up drinking, not to change his life, but because it just cost too much. Drinking, he said was throwing money away. At 137 he found people who cared about him and saw his strengths. They gave him an address to use and a way toward employment. He found friendship and a sense of belonging. He began to see the good in himself. He was then able to reconnect with his oldest son in Loveland, and soon afterward experience the amazing love that happens between a grandfather and his granddaughters.

Val, the assistant director at 137, recognized the personal growth and commitment that were happening within Ron. He asked him to join the "New Life" program. Through that program, Ron completed an assessment of the gifts God gave him- the gifts of truthfulness, a cheerful heart, and a bold proclaimer. They are gifts that those who meet him can easily see. Ron is a welcomer and a mentor to some who are new to the streets. He is now a level 1 assistant at 137. He shows people around, shows them "the ropes" and gives them hope. He's the kind of person that people come to know they can depend on.

One day, last February, Ron was walking down the street. He was showing a newcomer to the streets around town. Suddenly the stroll turned into chaos as they witnessed a serious accident. A fellow biker had been hit and was pinned under a car. Without thinking of himself, he and another bystander lifted the car off that man, giving him a chance at life. The local paper ran a story and reported his heroism.

A few days later when Ron arrived at 137, a gathering of staff, guests, volunteers and friends were waiting for him. There was a sign on the wall that read "RON, OUR HERO". There was a cake and a celebration. They had a copy of the article from the paper and they asked him to sign it. He did. It reads "To my family at 137, Thank you for all your support and being a guidance in my life... Ron"

This was Ron's story in 2015. This was the end of the story, but his story didn't end here. Ron continued to be involved with the New Life Program at 137. With their support and guidance as well as the help of Valerie Gallegos at Goodwill and many others; he worked hard, found employment, a home and, found a new life! He will be greatly missed.

Joe's Story

Joe is an encourager. He's a gentle giant who strives to help others. In his life he has been through unspeakable pain, loss and eventually homelessness. He has learned the power of encouragement and faith and he wants to pass that on. Today he is writing devotionals to be, in his words "a blessing to others".

Joe can give you a brief personal account of his life but some stories are just too painful to tell. He will tell you that his alcoholic father was severely abusive, and in some ways his mother was too; but the details are not forthcoming. No need to go there, the wound is just too deep.

Joe grew up in southwest Colorado, the sixth of seven children. None of the siblings was immune from their parents' abuse and when Joe was in his early teens his older brother took his own life. He has scars from his childhood, both physical and emotional, a diagnosis of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and a lifetime of work, trying to recover from it all.

In spite of the trauma there is hope in his story. Joe took his first job when he was 13 and went on to graduate from his high school; he will smile as he tells you it was "the home of the Demons". It was not long after that when he met a pastor at a local church who encouraged him and told him of the infinite worth of his life in God's eyes. He helped Joe to find a place to live and showed him what hope and real love were about.

He had begun to see hope but he still had his demons. He was feeling the early weakness and fatigue of a heart condition. The alcoholism that ran through his family was finding a way of sucking in the very victim that paid the price as a child, offering him fleeting comfort for the wounds it left behind. He was determined to break the cycle of abuse and so he avoided starting a family, finding some comfort in the form of drink.

He stayed close to his sister, moved to Wyoming to be near her and he started a job there. He was there for her as she lost her husband to cancer. It was through his connection with her, his niece and her children that he was able to quit drinking but not before losing his job and his home. It was homelessness that led him to the 137 Connection. There he found a place to get a shower and meet his basic needs but he found so much more! He met with counselors, attended Bible studies, and got involved with Touchstone Health Partners to learn to deal with the demons of his past. He connected with resources to get health care and was able to get the heart surgery that he so badly needed. He became a man that staff, volunteers and guests at 137 came to rely on and he was invited to join the "New Life" program there. There he addressed not his problems but his strengths! A survey of strengths, not problems, helped him to see the admirable man that he has become. With incredible commitment and follow through Joe has been able to obtain housing through the Touchstone program.

Joe is now a volunteer assistant at 137 and continues to be involved in the New Life program. He is a man of compassion, an encourager and now a writer. In his devotionals he quotes Acts 4:36 which talks about Joe, who was called Barnabas by the apostles, because it means "Son of Encouragement". At birth Joe's parents had given him a gift - a name, that through all his struggles; he quietly and wholly grew into.

Michael's Story

For three years Michael has been living out of his truck and, despite debilitating health problems, the first thing he'll tell you is how thankful he is. He has been keeping a thankfulness journal and is quick to remember how thankful he is for the truck that he owns, the safe places he's found to park at night and that he has the 137 Homeless Connection to go to each day where he has friendship, support, respect, and... a shower. Michael had a charmed childhood. His father had a mysterious job with the government which took him on travels, far and wide. Sometimes Michael got to go along. He traveled from coast to coast, seeing the local attractions and enjoying his "Disneyland" days. But when his parents divorced, things began to change. He was confused and rebellious and ended up emancipated and on his own by the age of 15. There were obstacles but they didn't stop him from moving forward in life. He went on to graduate from high school and get an associates degree in electronics. He worked and paid off his student loans. He landed a job with Universal Studios, worked his way up and became a stage manager, rubbing elbows with the famous and infamous. There were fog machines and pyrotechnics, a life of excitement made meaningful through close friendships. But there were health problems which worsened over time. It's funny how one can be on top of the world one day and soon be in the depths of despair. In a short period of time, Michael's girlfriend, his boss and his best friend all died from untimely and unrelated causes. It was time to go home to family so he went to visit his mother and step father in Loveland.

When Michael arrived in Loveland he saw that the two of them were aging and in need of help. He decided that he should stay. They needed him to help them to get to appointments, run daily errands and navigate the myriad of problems that often come with age. It was a decision that also allowed him to begin to address his own health problems. He worked, as he was able, at the family business and did his best to take care of their needs. Years previously his mother had beat cancer and had been in remission. It was not long after Michael moved in that her cancer came back with a vengeance. Soon his mother was gone too and he had lost his entire support system. His step "father" wanted no part of a relationship with his step son and quickly sold everything that had belonged to his mother. Michael was forced to move out. With no place to go, this is where Michael's story becomes one of homelessness. He was on his own again, but this time he had to sleep in his truck, moving from parking lot to parking lot, hoping not to be noticed or reported. You might see Michael around town, looking pretty strong and healthy and ask yourself "why doesn't he just find a job?" But employers don't seem to want employees who look good one day and then are knocked down due to any of a number of health problems and unable to work the next. Even if he had a period of time in which he could work, his condition requires surgery and a two to three month recovery about once a year. He is on a waiting list for some help from Social Security Disability but as a single male, he is low in priority. As the system goes, if he works for a day, he loses his chance even for that.

In the mean time, Michael has found a life. He's an important person at the 137 Homeless Connection. He started out as many of the guests there do, just trying to get by. He first met with an intake caseworker for basic services. Michael showed motivation and initiative helping with chores and any other needs. He then became one of the first participants in the 137 Homeless Connection "New Life Program." Here he began to discover his gifts and strengths helping him to identify life purpose goals and how to achieve them. Michael is a New Life Program Volunteer Assistant and helps provide basic services for 137 homeless Connection participants. He also helps communicate changes in operations, as they occur, with all of our volunteers. With Gods help he is in the process of writing his own happy ending.

John's Story

This story is about John, a 52 year old man. He was a former employee at IBM for 16 years, was married for 10 years before his divorce, with 5 grown children, 1 girl and 4 boys from which he was estranged. At IBM he worked manufacturing and refurbishing copiers and later in computer operations batching jobs for outside banking companies. The divorce settlement left him with the house and making child support payments. Three years after the divorce, he was laid off from IBM with separation pay and was able to draw unemployment while looking for work. He rented out rooms in the house in order to make the mortgage payments. Eventually he found employment with Amerimax for significantly less pay building vinyl replacement windows for homes. He worked there for 13 years. He had been living from paycheck to paycheck when Amerimax laid him off in 2009. He had no money in savings. When he could no longer pay the mortgage, he sold the house to a man for the taking over of the payments.

John then moved to Loveland. He lived the next two years on unemployment while looking for a job. He had a friend who was able to provide him with occasional work reconditioning mobile homes. He was basically homeless at this time but was able to stay in the mobile homes during their restoration. In November of 2011, he was arrested for a DUI. He got out of jail early 2012 and moved into a reconditioned mobile home until it sold, but after that there was no more work. With no income, he ended up living on the streets. He had heard of 137 Homeless Connection and came to see what help he could get. John said at 137 Homeless Connection he felt safe. Such basic things as being able to do his laundry, take a shower, have a storage locker, offered him hope. It was also a place where he got help sorting out the confusion his life had been in. In April of 2012, he went back to jail to serve the remaining part of his DUI sentence . When John was released from jail, he had no place to go, no drivers license, some stiff fines and fees, no income, no money, and no food or shelter. He was able to stay with a friend for two weeks, then he came back to 137 Homeless Connection. He began working on court requirement, and trying to find alternatives to sleeping on the streets during the coming winter. John said he appreciated the help and support he found at 137 Homeless Connection and started to participate in a Helper program. He did not like being idol and found he had useful skills. He had a truck in Ft. Collins. He wasn't able to get it to Loveland as he had no license to drive and it needed repairs for which he had no money. After helping him get the truck to Loveland, a friend let him park it on his property. He then started sleeping in his truck.

There is a unique twist in John's story that took place in January of 1985 when he was 25 years old and still employed by IBM. At that time, he was married with 3 very young children, had no marriage or money problems, no drugs, no alcohol, no bill problems, no reason to which he can attribute what he did. One day when his kids were playing in a room toward the back of the house, and he was sitting talking with his wife while she was fixing dinner, he got up from his chair and went into the den. He proceeded to get out his 41 magnum, load it and shoot the gun all six times, with the first shot entering at his chin by his throat. p.2 of 2 John never lost consciousness. The bullet took two teeth, put a whole in his tongue, pushed his left eye to the back of his brain where they found it in surgery, then the bullet exited out of the top of his head. The surgeons put his face back together from a photograph, reset his eye that they said he'd never see out of again, and threaded 23 feet of wire to hold his skull together. They informed him he'd be in a wheel chair and in the hospital for 6 to 9 months. John was a pretty determined man and never gave up. He was out of the wheel chair, and the hospital, in 3 months. He was legally blind in his eye but had some usable vision. They said he'd always use a walker or a cane, but in one month he was free of both. He did have a slight limp but it didn't hinder him much. He was back to work in a total of four months, with one month part time, and then full time. IBM held his job for the entire time he was laid up. The medical insurance covered all his medical costs, leaving him to pay only $2000. He said there appeared to be no other lasting physiological or psychological damage. Life went back to normal. He and his wife had two more children. John said he did not know why he did it and wondered if it had any connection to his mother committing suicide when he was 18.

This past year at 137 Homeless Connection, John shared that he knew God had something in store for him. "A person doesn't put a 41 magnum bullet to their head and survive as I did", he said, "So I know something is in store for me." John said he's learned that "a person has to do the best he can. And if you don't have the will to do it, then you'll not do it." He shared some philosophy he learned in childhood - "You dig yourself a hole and you have to dig your way out." He said that "life is choices. Sneaky little satan comes in to effect these choices and so you end up following his rules. You tell everyone you believe in God but you're doing things that follow satan's rules and you think he controls the whole world." His experiences, he said, had moved him closer to God than before he was homeless. And when he looked back on choices he'd made in the past, he didn't liked the results. God had opened up doors so he could see things differently. This allowed him, he said, to see other choices he hadn't seen before and found that he preferred these wiser choices.

Some observations John had on being homeless: The homeless are people, too. Not bad people but good people out to try and help themselves. Many are discouraged and frustrated with the system. The penal system seems to be a full time job, going to talk to this person, that person, getting all the papers filled out, then for reasons not explained, having to do much of it all over again. It can be quite a hassle trying to do all that is required. John opinion-ed that it would be helpful if the system could be simplified. "Granted, some of the homeless," John had observed, "are more motivated that others, or don't care, but not necessarily bad people. For many its lack of knowledge, hopelessness and/or confusion." John died January 26, 2013 as a result of a bacterial meningitis infection that spread throughout his whole body. He knew who his God was.

Shelter History

Approximately 30 adult men and women are homeless in plain sight each day and night right here in our city. Mostly they are the more chronically homeless and need basic help like shelter from the coldest winter nights. In 2003 Lee Severance of All Saints Episcopal Church began taking into their church a small group of homeless on extremely cold nights. Then in 2006/2007 Blue Sky Church decided to reach out and created Loveland's first cold weather overnight emergency shelter at the church. Blue Sky Church received large numbers of calls and much needed help from generous people of Loveland in terms of food, clothing and blankets. BSC was open 54 nights in 2006 and served an average of 15 guests per night. A total of 28 men volunteered to stay overnight/two volunteers per night. The average number of nights each volunteer served was 4 nights during the entire winter.

The winter of 2007/2008, in partnership with the City of Loveland, the shelter was housed at the Loveland Pulliam Building. We were open 79 nights with a volunteer base of 45 men and women.

In late winter, when it became apparent that the homeless shelter was about to become homeless itself. Five partner churches who had responded to our call for help, began efforts to develop an interfaith church model. Within the model, a number of churches in Loveland would house the homeless shelter in a weekly rotation so that no one church would bear the whole burden. The 2008/2009 winter finished with 10 Loveland Churches providing shelter. This model continues today.

The 2018/2019 winter will continue with the same model as a program at the House of Neighborly Services.

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