COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado — Few people would ever say they're grateful to be arrested. Jason Horn was.
"Ultimately, that was part of what saved me," he explained. "It was part of my growth, it was part of my new life."
Jason joined the New Life program at the Springs Rescue Mission in 2015. He'd struggled with addiction and substance abuse for decades, much of it brought on by mental health issues.
"These guys, they opened their arms to me, taught me new ways to live my life, what God said about me, who I really was as a person. I wasn't that guy anymore," he said.
After finishing the year-long recovery program, Horn began working for the mission as a catering intern. Today he oversees all food services programs.
"The best part, I think, about it is now I have an opportunity to give back," Horn said. "So many people that helped me, now it's my turn to help others."
On Thursday, the Springs Rescue Mission celebrated its own transformation, a 6-year expansion and renovation that enable the charity to expand its services. The final phase of the $18 million project was the opening of the Welcome Center.
At a news conference celebrating the achievement and the 25th anniversary of the mission, Chief Development Officer Travis Williams told the audience that hundreds of people in Colorado Springs are finding help with recovery through the programs that helped Horn.
"Every week, more than 100 men and women are engaged in addiction recovery efforts of some kind," Williams said.
The Welcome Center is housed in what used to be the only building on campus at 5 West Las Vegas Street. At the time, it had a small cafeteria and warming shelter with beds for about 35 people. The mission's shelter can now house 450 people a night.
"It's much more than a food and shelter location, it's changing lives for the better," Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers told the audience.
Much of the money used to pay for the expansion was generated by private donations. However, the City of Colorado Springs was also able to contribute approximately $6 million from Community Development Block Grants it received from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The main purpose of the Welcome Center is to be the only point of entry to the Springs Rescue Mission campus. The transition will increase safety and creating a safe space for the guests who are trying to overcome homelessness, poverty, and addiction. The center also gives guests a place to receive mail, securely store their belonging and look after their pets.
"Imagine if you'd been on the streets and the only living thing that's given you unconditional love for those years is your pet. You would prefer to stay outside in the cold with your pet than come in if you had to stay outside," explained SRM President and CEO Jack Briggs.
Approximately 20 people finish the each month, leaving the rescue mission to start a new life back in the community.