One of the things that sets Step Denver apart is that every one of our staff members has either successfully been through the process of recovery or had the consequences of addiction affect their life in a significant way. In fact, 72% of our employees are Step alumni who have walked the walk and know exactly what current residents are experiencing because they’ve been there. We, as an organization, are proof to those we serve that recovery is possible. With this, we introduce our newest staff member, Kyle - a Step Sober Home resident who previously completed all three phases of the Steps for Success program at Larimer and has worked tirelessly to successfully rebuild his life. We recently asked Kyle to share his experience and he was happy to oblige. Kyle dedicates the following testimony to: “the countless Alcoholics and Addicts out there that might see a part of themselves in my path and may find some hope to give recovery another chance.”
Making the decision to seek help at Step Denver:
I've spent over twenty years of my life struggling with alcoholism, drug addiction, and have had multiple attempts at recovery. Throughout the years, I've been through six different rehabilitation programs, stayed sober in recovery successfully for two and a half years, relapsed countless times, served time in jail, and was homeless living on the streets and in shelters. Before choosing to come to Step Denver, I was unemployed, unemployable, had no bank account, no permanent address, was desperate, in and out of hospital detoxes, and was suicidal much of the time.
In March 2019 I had been attending Denver AA meetings fairly regularly, but I kept showing up either still drunk from the night before, or with severe withdrawals from trying to quit cold turkey. At one meeting I met Mike, a regular attendee who was also a Step Denver alumnus. For several weeks he was supportive, and just kept gently nudging me to check out Step Denver whenever I decided I was "ready to commit to a real change."
After a few more weeks of battling it out on my own, I was finally at a point where I could just no longer continue living as the frightened, trembling, fetid mess of a man I had become. I admitted myself into a very necessary hospital detox and finally called the intake specialist at Step Denver to apply for the program.
I was terrified at first but had just a small glimmer of hope that maybe something might be different this time around.
Becoming part of the Step Denver recovery community:
Upon entry, it became immediately apparent that Step Denver was not like any of the other drug/alcohol rehabilitation programs I had been through in the past.
Instead, this was a peer recovery community where accountability and personal responsibility would become my new way of living. I was offered a safe, clean, supportive, and sober environment to create a launching point for my new beginning. There was a real sense of camaraderie between me and my fellow residents in that we were all in this together, working hard to better ourselves. One can choose to leave whenever they wish, so it was truly a daily choice to stay for the hope of positive life changes.
The first few weeks were spent doing light janitorial work in-house, working with the Career Center to update my resume and apply for employment, and attending 12-Step meetings both inside and outside the facility. Within a month, thanks to the assistance from the Career Center, I was hired at my first job in over three years working full-time at a four-star hotel restaurant! My Recovery Support Manager worked closely with me to help balance my daily activities between recovery, continued employment, physical health, and financial security.
It still amazes me how quickly I was empowered to change my life towards a positive trajectory. After nearly six months, I had completed the three phases the program entails and was asked if I would like to move from the main facility into one of the Step Denver recovery houses (Step Sober Homes - Final Program Phase). Choosing to move into one of the recovery houses has greatly solidified my foundation for continued success.
Gratitude for continued support through difficult times:
The Step Denver recovery homes have empowered me to further solidify my personal recovery within the 12-step community and my public life. In the last few months, I've accepted my one-year sober chip, worked through the 12 steps with a sponsor, renewed positive relationships with my family, and achieved a Peak Performer award at work.
Living in the Step Denver recovery homes has also been a massive blessing and a much-needed safety net during the recent dramatic societal events of 2020. The Covid-19 pandemic caused great fear and uncertainty for millions. Many of my friends in the sober recovery community have relapsed. Hotel restaurants, including my workplace, were forced to close, so I was placed on furlough and inevitably laid off after a few months. Thankfully, I have had a safe and sober place with my fellow Step Denver brothers to quarantine, and I am financially secure due to my continued commitment to the Step Denver savings requirement.
I was also recently offered an employed position with Step Denver as a Weekend Facilities Coordinator. I am blessed for the opportunity and the privilege to help others by living as an example for the new and returning residents as they start their own personal journeys to success in sobriety. I am eternally grateful to Step Denver for empowering me to help myself and for continuing to guide me on my sober journey, one day at a time.
Kyle D. Bartel
June 30th, 2020
444 Days Clean & Sober