COLORADO SPRINGS — We see the homeless, we drive by the homeless, we may even give the homeless our spare change at a stoplight.
Have you ever wondered what may have put them in that situation and if it is possible for them to get out?
Homelessness and poverty know no boundaries. It is visible and it is clear.
Including right here in El Paso County.
There is no easy way to calculate the exact number of people who experience homelessness in our community, but groups like the Pikes Peak Continuum can provide an estimated measurement.
El Paso County saw a 15 percent decrease in homelessness from 2019 to 2020.
So far, The Springs Rescue Mission says their numbers have remained stable this year, and they have not seen a great increase in clients coming in.
The Rescue Mission believes the decline is a reflection of people in our area who have given their time to services like The Mission.
"This community needs to pat themselves on the back because it is this community, through their charity and generosity, that is making this organization happen," said Travis Williams, Springs Rescue Mission.
Every person that admits themselves to the mission has a past, and a story they carry with them.
"I was trying to cling onto anything I could. Be a good dad, anything I could. But really drugs just became my main focus," said Matthew DeLaurel.
Matthew DeLaurel was born in England. At a very young age, he was introduced to drugs.
An addiction that turned everyone in his circle away.
As DeLaurel's contacts grew, his drug use worsened. He says he did not feel normal unless he was high. Everyone began to leave DeLaurel alone, he says he was "killing himself."
The addiction traveled with DeLaurel when he moved to Colorado Springs in 2009.
"When I got over here I was still searching. I moved in with my dad and siblings and I didn't get along with them. I was a black sheep over there and a black sheep over here," said DeLaurel.
Eventually, the drugs took over, and the streets became DeLaurel's new home.
"I am going to die here. Right before I found my way I was about to kill myself," said DeLaurel.
After a year of not knowing what the next day would hold, DeLaurel found a better way out.
"I was able to muster enough of, I don't want to be here, I need to get sober, I need to get back to life, I need to get back to my kids," said DeLaurel.
DeLaurel found The Springs Rescue Mission.
"I don't know why I said yes, but I said yes. I had a billion reasons as to why I shouldn't do this," said DeLaurel.
Not only was he given a place to sleep, but a chance at a new life.
"We are going to do everything we can to meet people where they are at and provide them a pathway out," said Travis Williams, Springs Rescue Mission.
The Mission is a low barrier, come as you are shelter. Its growing mission is to help transform the lives of those who struggle. They meet individuals at any stage of their lives and guide them every step of the way.
"This is a place that provides dignity and hope, dignity and hope for individuals who desperately need it," said Williams.
In May of 2020, DeLaurel graduated from a 15-month long rehab program at the mission. He says he is a new man today and believes if it weren't for The Mission he would still be on the streets today.
"I don't ignore the past because the past is important. I still have bills to pay from when I was homeless. I still have relationships to mend," said DeLaurel.
However, it didn't take long for Delaurel to return to the mission.
This time it was for a different reason.
DeLaurel was hired on as a chef for the mission's catering business.
It's a job DeLaurel says he felt called to do.
"Here I am serving people and here I am making a difference."
On Saturday, June 5th, DeLaurel, and his wife welcomed their first son, DeLaurel's third child, into the world!
To read more on DeLaurel's story, or The Springs Rescue Mission, click here.