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Matt Wallace

Up Close Video Series – “Little Weazle”

October 22, 2010 | By | No Comments

“Weazle” shares his story of living on the streets from age 11.

Jenn’s Story (video)

May 26, 2010 | By | No Comments

Jenn’s story of how she ended up on the streets. Thanks for sharing your story Jenn! We love you and are so proud of who you are.

Tonya’s Story (video)

April 7, 2010 | By | No Comments

Tonya shares her story of life on the streets from the age of 13.

I’m Ready…

April 5, 2010 | By | No Comments

by zach smith

When I first met “Sarah”, she was eight months pregnant, living on the streets, helplessly addicted to heroin and cocaine, discarded, and let down by everyone in her life who was supposed to love her most. Now, nearly two years later, not a day goes by that I am not haunted by her story. Not a day goes by that my heart does not ache for her. Not a day goes by that I am not overwhelmed with love for who she is and hope for what she could be.

This afternoon I ate a quick lunch and headed downtown. I asked God to open my eyes to see people and places with love and compassion. I prayed that God would let me find Sarah.

As I walked the streets, my mind wandered to the previous day. It was a hard day. I had spent hours looking for several friends, including Sarah, to no avail. I finally turned around and went back to the office close to 4:00. Less than an hour later, on my way home, I drove past Sarah’s usual spot – the crack block – for another look. I saw her there, stumbling back and forth, weighing what had to have been 20 pounds less than when I saw her last. She looked awful. The hardest thing I did that day; the hardest thing I ever do, is watch her disappear out of sight in my rearview mirror.

But this was a new day, and I set out to find her. I walked for a long time up and down the blocks that have become very familiar to me. I decided to walk to her usual corner just to see if she was there. I immediately recognized her from a distance. Her blond hair was tied up, and her clothes were dirty and hanging loosely from her shrunken frame. Scars and sores freckled her face and arms, signs of the HIV that poisons her and the addiction that holds her captive. She was smoking heroin, an improvement in her eyes, from shooting the toxin intravenously. She was surrounded by fellow addicts. There was no way I could get to her. I walked slowly by, hoping that she would see me, but she didn’t. As I walked away, feeling like a coward, I prayed that God would send her to me. ‘That is the only way this is going to work, Lord. I can’t get to her, so send her to me.’ I prayed this over and over as I walked back towards the 16th Street Mall. I found a couple of other kids and spent some time with them. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that there was still a chance to talk to Sarah today. We had been looking for her for so long and I had finally found her. I began to summon the courage to go back to the block. This could be my only chance to see her. I had to try.

I walked the seven blocks as fast as I could, knowing that every second counted. It was getting late in the afternoon and I didn’t know when she was going to leave. For all I knew, she had already gone on and I had missed my chance. I neared the block and saw her. I hadn’t stopped praying that God would make something happen. I decided to wait on the corner opposite from where she was standing. She still didn’t see me and again I prayed that God would send her my way. A minute or two passed. Nothing happened. But then, she restlessly stood up. Before I knew it, she was walking my direction on the opposite side of the street. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Here I was, praying that God would make it work out; that He would send her to me, and that is exactly what happened.

I quietly spoke her name as she got closer to where I stood. She looked up, confused at first, and then melted into tears and shame. Other times when we see her, she will run to us with open arms, half smiling and half crying. Today was different. I had never seen her look so defeated; so broken. She hung her head and hid her face in her hands as she walked towards me and into my arms. Her shoulders shook as she cried. She didn’t even try to stifle it.

Through sobs she told me that she just wanted to make us proud and that she was sorry and ashamed that I had to see her so strung out. Of course, this was just an opportunity for me to tell her that, though it breaks my heart to see her like this, I, and everyone else at Dry Bones, love her no matter what she’s doing. She told me that her family had given up on her and that she hadn’t talked to them in over a year. She said that she had no friends on the streets anymore. She spends her days among a sea of faces, in a crowd that couldn’t care less about her.

I got to tell her that God has a better plan, and that He desperately loves her. She talked for a few minutes about how much she wanted God in her life. She said that she just can’t, and doesn’t want to, live without Him anymore. As we talked, sitting there on the sidewalk, she simply couldn’t stop crying. With every word of love that God gave me to give to her, she broke down more. I told her how much I loved her and that the other Dry Bones staff loved her too. Then she said those magic words, “I’m ready to get out of here.”

What Does Dry Bones Mean to You? (video)

February 2, 2010 | By | No Comments

Thoughts from a few friends when asked, “What does Dry Bones mean to you?”

As our friends say some really nice things in this video, we instantly think of their impact on our lives! =The awesome impact of an “Us” environment. Our lives are changed (…and changing) forever because of this thing called Dry Bones.

Mickey’s Story (video)

November 11, 2009 | By | No Comments

Mickey lived on the streets from age 14 and is now clean off of heroin and is living off the streets. Mickey shares a part of his life’s story with the world.

Street-views (2)

August 10, 2009 | By | No Comments

Interviews with Caitlyn, Angelina, Gremlin, Jess, Elizabeth, Kaili, Solomon, Cowboy, Dealy, Tamika, and Eddie

WHEN IN LIFE DO YOU FEEL MOST “IN CONTROL?”

Caitlyn: When I know exactly what’s happening. When I know I have a place to eat, and when I know I have something to eat.

Angelina: When I’m doing the dishes (laughing). Because when I’m done, they are done. I choose if the water is hot or cold.

Gremlin: Behind the wheel of a car. I’ve been driving them since I was 12 and I like to race.

Jess: When I’m not in a bad mood.

Elizabeth: When I’m having fun. When you are having fun, you do what you want to do. Like I’m having fun right now at bowling…so I’m in control.

Kaili: When I’m in a good mood.

Solomon: Most of the time, just about anywhere.

Cowboy: When I’m horse back riding because I have a connection with the horse.

Dealy: All the time…I have to be doing my plans all the time.

Tamika: When I’m in a good mood.

Eddie: When I’m upset and I have my anger under control, but I’m not blowing up. When I’m at work and I get to make my own decisions.

WHEN IN LIFE DO YOU FEEL MOST “OUT OF CONTROL?”

Caitlyn: When I’m on the streets. Absolutely nothing is in your control. You never know what’s going to happen day to day.

Angelina: When I’m high and depressed….when I stop caring.

Grimlin: In a relationship because it’s not my life to control, it’s ours. I don’t have full control.

Jess: Depression. I get depressed on holidays and my birthday.

Elizabeth: When I’m in a bad mood or things don’t go like I want them to.

Kaili: When I’m angry and aggravated…I feel like I want to punch someone in the face.

Solomon: When I’m working – You have bosses and people above you!

Cowboy: When I’m in the middle of the city…I’m not in my natural environment.

Dealy: When my plans don’t go my way.

Tamika: When I feel peer pressure.

Eddie: When I get stressed out or family leaves.

WHAT DO YOU CONTROL IN YOUR LIFE?

Caitlyn: I honestly don’t know what I control. I don’t even control myself when I’m off my meds.

Angelina: How many cigarettes I smoke (laughing). That’s about it. I don’t control much. It’s a good thing I’m not a control freak.

Grimlin: Whether or not I’m still alive. I have complete control if I kill myself…whether or not I take a drug that I know will kill me…whether or not I mess with someone who will kill me.

Jess: My family. By helping them out with stuff. I try to make sure that everything’s O.K.

Elizabeth: The way I feel and the way I do things. I do things in my own perspective, not just how people want me to do it.

Kaili: My little sister (laughing)….I don’t know.

Solomon: What I want to do, what I don’t want to do.

Cowboy: My destiny. Everybody makes choices in life, and the choices we make lead to who we become.

Dealy: My anger, money situations, food situation, shelter.

Tamika: Everything.

Eddie: My mind, my thoughts.

WHAT CAUSES YOUR LIFE TO GO OUT OF CONTROL (assuming you’ve felt out of control before)?

Caitlyn: Going off my meds.

Angelina: My depression. When I start self-medicating. Loneliness causes my depression.

Grimlin: Living in a meth-house because I had meth handed to me all day long….I didn’t say “no”.

Jess: People I’m close to passing away.

Elizabeth: My bipolarness sets me out of control. If I’m trying to do something and it doesn’t go my way, it flips my switch.

Kaili: When someone lays hands on me. I can’t control myself.

Solomon: Drama usually. When people make up stories or threaten to destroy something you love.

Cowboy: Myself. We have the choice to let people affect us or not affect us.

Dealy: Me…I’ll keep it at that!

Tamika: When people want you to do drugs.

Eddie: Drugs and alcohol. I was a major druggy. I’ve lost a good job, almost my license to doing drugs. I’ve been sober for almost 4 months.

Interview with Charles and Amanda

April 4, 2009 | By | No Comments

Charles and Amanda attended a Dry Bones weekly Bible study at a home for about a year in 2007. A strong friendship was built between us over those months. This interview gives the couple’s perspective on becoming homeless, living on the streets, encountering good friends and eventually Christ there, and finally finding their way out.

I appreciate this interview each time I read it because it introduces us to one of hundreds of stories of how young people end up on the streets.  Thanks to Charles and Amanda for boldly sharing your story with us.

Charles and Amanda have both been off of the streets since 2008.  We are still in touch with Charles.  Amanda – if you find this old interview, send us a message!  We would love to hear from you.

Nikki: What was the chain of events that led to you being on the street?

Amanda: My mom and I got into a heated argument and my mom told me I had two choices to make and one of those choices was to pack up and leave or leave Charles and I wasn’t going to do the second one, so him and I said the only other choice is to leave.

Charles: We packed up even before she said to leave. We packed up everything we could and threw it out a second story window in the back and left.

Nikki: What has your relationship with your mom been like in the past?

Amanda: My relationship with my mom has always been stressful from the time I was like six on. With her working and not knowing what’s going on with me, and pots and pans being thrown at me, and just different things.

Nikki: Would you say that she was abusive?

Amanda: Physically, no, but emotionally, yes.

Nikki: Did you come straight to Downtown Denver?

Charles: We kind of piddled around (our suburb) for a few days. Then we went to the police for help but they wouldn’t lift a finger to help.

Amanda: (Our hometown) police are the type of police that don’t care, so we came downtown. The downtown police actually cared. There were cops that told me to keep warm.

Charles: One night (a guy) was messing with us. The police had us identify him and told us to wait right where we were because it was the warmest place; it was out of the wind. Then two hours later a security guard came by and boots us out with no reason. We told him that the police officer told us to stay there until it got warmer, until the next morning when we could leave.

Amanda: But I didn’t want to cause any drama or get in trouble. He could have arrested us. I didn’t know what he would do so we just left and walked the streets for six hours that night.

Charles: We walked down to The 16th Street Mall, slept on the Free Mall Ride for two hours until the driver told us to get off because he was taking the car back to the garage.

Amanda: And that’s when we found that there was a church that we could go to that might tell us where to go.

Charles: The day before we had gone to Trinity United Methodist Church and there were two weddings going on. One had just ended, one was about to start and the wedding coordinator knew of Jenny at Urban Peak [a shelter for homeless youth]. She called Urban Peak, and they told us to go to Urban Peak to get an intake. When we got there, a police officer was there which scared us. So we went to 7-Eleven where we met a guy who offered for us to stay at a motel room that he had. We stayed with him for a week, but he was really bossy so after that week we decided to go back to Urban Peak.

Nikki: So how did you feel during those three weeks on the streets?

Amanda: Scared…scared.  We didn’t know anybody, we didn’t know where to turn, just really scared.

Charles: We had turned to the police to try to get hotel vouchers. They would do it for Amanda but not for me. The laws are crazy when it comes to the homeless.

Nikki: How long were you on the streets?

Charles: Three weeks.

Nikki: What was life like on the streets?

Amanda: We were scared of not knowing what was going on day to day.

Charles: Finding a place to sleep.

Amanda: We met some friends that said we should go to Urban Peak and that Urban Peak would be the best place for us to stay right now. And it kinda was. There was a lot of people who helped us in hard times.

Charles: While we were on the street, there were people telling us where to go and what to do during those three weeks. We were lucky we had the cell phone I had which saved our lives. We used it to call the police one night.

Nikki: Describe “the hard times.”

Amanda: Beating each other up, saying, “You caused this. Why are we here?” Just emotional beating up.

Nikki: What time of the year was it?

Amanda: October. It was getting colder. It hadn’t really snowed yet. But it was really cold. We didn’t have sweatshirts.  We didn’t even have blankets.

Charles: We had thin jackets. We had all of our luggage.

Nikki: Describe some of the places you slept.

Amanda: A closet type thing, but not really. A parking garage. It was the exit to the underground parking garage. There were concrete blocks that came out on a ledge. We slept on that and tried to pass the time away by playing cards, reading, talking…

Charles: . . . trying to calm each other down, lift each other’s spirits. It was hard. For just people new to the streets, it was just hard.

Amanda: We didn’t know anybody. I didn’t know the state of Colorado well enough to be on my own, to be on the street. I just knew the Denver International Airport area. I knew how to get going wherever in that sense. But as far as getting downtown or Westminster Mall or whatever, I didn’t know.

Charles: The little money we had we spent on food.

Nikki: How did you get your money?

Charles: Left over money from my cash advance and a bit of left over money from the last job I had before I came out here.

Amanda: That caused us to have like $200. So it was like, eat and…

Charles: This one lady that was addicted to crack, smoked it, she let us spend over night in her apartment.  Then, she stole $50 from my wallet.

Amanda: and a $100 from mine and that was the money that we were supposed to have to eat.

Nikki: So what did you do?

Amanda: What could we do? We left.

Charles: The lighters we had for any cigarettes we did have for me, she used up all of those. She spent all night smoking crack. She even ripped a lamp out of her wall and went down to sell it and buy a dime bag of crack.

Nikki: So what did help look like for you?

Amanda: The most useful help was Urban Peak. If it hadn’t been for the people we knew at Urban Peak, we would still be on the streets now. They gave us food, shelter, a place to sleep, tips to learn hygiene, case management. They did so much.

Nikki: What brought you into contact with Dry Bones?

Charles: Mandy (a girl that was attending the Monday night Bible study) told us that there was a Bible study that Dry Bones was doing and that there might be people that we could come to for advice. And the first time that we came to the Bible study it was like… I knew that there was so much help that you guys could offer spiritually that we couldn’t do by ourselves. And then after that first time we just constantly went. We just kept going.

Nikki: What brought you to the place in your life that you decided you needed a change?

Amanda: I knew that the street life wasn’t for me. I knew that if I wanted to be on the streets, I could still be on the streets. We needed a steady place to stay.

Charles: I didn’t want to worry about knowing where I’m going to sleep next, where I’m going to eat, and a million other things you have to worry about when you’re on the streets. Drugs, alcohol, it just wasn’t a life I could live. It wasn’t the life I was raised to live. I was raised in a happy home. When I was back at home, I thought…homeless…I’ll never be homeless. And then when it hit me that I was homeless, I was shocked. I decided that we had to find help somewhere and we’ve got to do it now. So we made that extra effort to have my cell phone there with us so that we could call if we needed help. We ate a couple meals at the Denver Rescue Mission. We tried to get into the Samaritan House but they were full. A lot has happened since we hit the streets.

Amanda: I was getting so stressed at Urban Peak. So Jenny put me into a room by myself with a pen and paper and told me to write my thoughts. When I started writing my thoughts it turned into poetry.

Nikki: What brought you to spiritual change in your life?

Amanda: I knew I had to do something with my life and I had that grasp of “You need to either sit down and talk to God about this or you need to close up.” I didn’t want to close up so one night I knelt down and I said “If there’s another way, show me.” And God showed me by bringing us to the Catholic Worker House [where they were living at the time of this interview], keeping us fed, keeping us clean, and just making sure we were safe.

Nikki: What did Christ have to do with your decision to change?

Amanda: Every time I’d go to sleep…You know that feeling of someone watching you but you can’t see it…He would be like you need to wake up, you are in trouble. So I knew that He was watching and that He was there. He was pushing me.

Nikki: What are your vision and goals for yourself over the next few months to a year?

Amanda: Getting an apartment and having a healthy kid (Amanda is four months pregnant).

Charles: Finding steady work. That’s been the biggest thing right now.

Nikki: What has been your spiritual journey since you’ve been on the streets?

Amanda: Trying to find God. I’ve explored witchcraft, I’ve done Wicca; I’ve tried it all. But they were never satisfying to me. There is power in witchcraft, there is power in Wicca, but there is so much more power and Love in Christianity. I’m following God now, not anything I’ve ever tried in the past. I’m following God and the Bible. If I have any questions, I go to God or to a pastor. I don’t follow all these different pathways because that is what the devil is trying to get me to do. There’s just not enough love and power in Wicca or witchcraft that can satisfy my need.

Charles: God was the only one I followed. I may have fallen away from Him, but I have always put my trust in Him.

Nikki: Is there anything else that you want to share?

Amanda: People don’t understand. It’s just trying so hard to get off of the streets, to pick yourself up, to say, “Look there is another way, you’ve just got to do it.” No one is going to do it for you.

Charles: You have to find that help on your own, but once you find it you have to let people help you.

Amanda: Dry Bones gave me assurance that there is spiritual help out there and knowledge that if something goes wrong, you can look to a higher power and ask for help. God’s not going to take a look at you and turn the other way. And that’s what Dry Bones has not done is look at people on the streets and turned the other way. Street kids can always call; they always have the staffs’ phone number. No matter who they are or what their religion is, Dry Bones has not turned their back on people. They don’t push the Bible down people’s throat like [another church]. Dry Bones knows that they are working with people from Christians to Wiccans. There’s a huge difference there, and Dry Bones did not turn their back on any of these people. And that is what I like about Dry Bones is you can connect or just get away from day to day life but be your own self. You don’t have to hide things from the Dry Bones people. They don’t preach down your throat. You guys never turned your back on us. That’s why I respect Dry Bones and what they’re doing, because it’s not another church and it’s not another youth group. That’s why I always go to Bible study every Monday.

Charles: Being a Christian has been hard all my life. Knowing people that are Wicca or pagan or into witchcraft. I was always persecuted. I came out here and wanted to find a church or people I could relate to, spend time with, be with, make friends with and Dry Bones has done that. They relate to our generation. It’s not like any other church I’ve ever been to. Dry Bones is about God and love. They love everyone.