This remarkable story developed its roots in the holiday season of 2010 in a church in downtown Denver, Colorado when an accomplished pastor and friend encouraged the festively outfitted congregation to simply “move an inch” this forthcoming holiday season in a conscious effort to serve others in our community that are less fortunate than we are. Being in a season of personal and professional transition I took the challenge offered by Gil Jones, lead pastor at Pathways Community Church, to heart and joined a fellow church member, friend and fellow volunteer, Marcia, to discover what opportunities may exist in the Denver Metro community that could utilize the services of a couple of 50 something year old’s that particular holiday season.
On our third volunteer stop, December 15, 2010, we walked through the doors of The Denver Rescue Mission where those in transition could find free resources to help them attempt to stabilize their lives by the provision of such basic human requirements as personal hygiene products , lukewarm showers, shelter and food in abundance. On that particular winter evening my life was forever changed by the experience that I had within the walls of the Denver Rescue Mission. I met a community of men and women that were involved in various life skill programs while trying to develop best practices for their lives that were not centered on the consumption and abuse of drugs or alcohol. As I showed up each Tuesday night to serve food and bus tables for 720 souls I began to develop a curiosity of how I could serve this fascinating community on a deeper level.
As time went on and relationships with the attending guests were developed I learned that so many of these folks were well intentioned in their efforts of seeking sustainable employment opportunities but were often disqualified before the application ink was dry because in their travels they had been convicted of a felony offense for a prior transgression. I met one man by the name of Van who was convicted of a felony offense for pulling a phone cord out of a wall, granted his wife was trying to call 911 to report inappropriate behavior on Van’s behalf at the time. But his life changed forever that night as he became terminally disqualified as the result of his actions that night would end up being a felony conviction. Over the first year of my volunteer effort I discovered that there was a redundant theme that most guest shared with me through our many conversations and that was that they just simply wanted the opportunity to work in a job that could provide a steady income so that they could support themselves on the most basic level,
Please understand that when a person is convicted of a felony offense it can have a devastating and long term impact on their life and the lives of their family. A felony conviction will lead to the loss of basic civil rights such as the right to vote, to hold a seat in a public office, to sit on a jury, to utilize public housing opportunities, to gain federal assistance like food stamps, higher education loans or grants. A felony conviction prevents a candidate from applying for jobs in the law enforcement, public education and the health care industries. The diminished prospects for a sustainable future, through the loss of gainful employment opportunities, for so many of the guests of the Denver Rescue Mission had a dramatic and profound impact on me.
The profound impact was that I experienced a loss of hope. I lost hope for the individual, for their children, for their families and for their future. I have lived an amazingly blessed life and have experienced success on every level throughout my life but I have never spent one minute of my existence feeling hopeless. While bussing tables for the guests it provided me an opportunity to interact with them and to try and learn if there were resources that they were missing or not taking advantage of that could open the door to a better future through a job. The answer was a resounding no. I will never forget walking away from those sad conversations saying out loud ” Somebody has to do something about this because this is not right”. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that a single volunteer experience, that lasted for 12 years, could become an advocacy platform for the marginalized and transitional souls in our community through the development of a business model that was founded on second chance employment opportunities for those that faced barriers.
Welcome to Spring Back Colorado’s first newsletter that we hope you will find informative, inspirational and educational as we discuss a variety of topics from Drug and Alcohol Recovery programs, to the community impact of Mattress Recycling, to felon friendly hiring practices of more than 300 men and women from the Denver metro area, to those getting out of prison and utilizing our business model as a way to reduce recidivism through gainful employment, to developing a business model that is founded on the capstone of People, Planet, Purpose.
Our story has been ten years in development as August 12, 2022 will mark the remarkable 10 year anniversary of Spring Back Colorado mattress recycling which is a business that is founded on the fundamental ideas of “Don’t Talk About It – Be About It” , ” If Not Me Then Who and If Not Now Then When” ” Teaching Men and Women How To Work With Intentional Purpose” and ” Anyone Can Be Average – Choose To Be Exceptional” Thank you for taking a moment to learn a little bit about Spring Back Colorado and we hope that through this newsletter we can continue to affect change, grow our brand recognition so that a mattress or a box spring never reach another landfill and offer insights to subjects that you may not have considered previously. If something contained in this newsletter has moved you, caused curiosity or just piqued your interest we would love to hear back from you and answer any questions you may have.
Christopher C Conway