Dustin’s Story

Since finding Bridge House, Dustin has been a freight train where nothing is going to stop him. He recently received his certification as a Colorado Peer and Family Specialist and has been hired as a behavioral case manager at Ready to Work Aurora. Dustin wants to give back to others in the same way he was helped at Bridge House.

But it took a long time to get to where he is today.

Born in Glenwood Springs, CO, Dustin was raised in two polar opposite homes. Until he was 15, he lived with an abusive, oppressive father who dictated his every move. When he ran away to live with his mom in a Denver suburb, he found himself in a world without boundaries where he could do and say whatever he wanted… This is when his world exploded.

“I didn’t run with the bad crowd, I was the bad crowd. I brought people down,” he admits.
At 19 and in possession of a stolen vehicle, he drove to Mexico. It wasn’t long before he robbed the hotel where he was staying and ended up incarcerated in a Mexican prison for two years. Deported back to Colorado, he spent another two days in federal lockdown before being released.

By the age of 35, Dustin had been admitted to 15 different rehabilitation facilities and psychiatric wards. Nothing stuck. “Once in a while I’d get a job, but when I was using there wasn’t much room for anything else.” One day, Dustin realized he couldn’t maintain this lifestyle forever. He knew he didn’t want to die and he had a purpose. He just needed to find it.

Dustin eventually found Bridge House’s Path to Home program. From there, he entered the Ready to Work program in Boulder. “I had always wanted to change and I was finally in a place to hear it. I was ready to do whatever [they] asked. My metamorphosis had to humble me or I wasn’t going to make it.” Dustin finally had a plan – put everything he had into one year. And that’s just what he did.

At Ready to Work, Dustin took advantage of all the support and services he was offered. Dustin recalls, “When I came into Ready to Work, my case manager John gave me the tools and said, ‘You fix it. We will give you the work, and the time, but YOU need to get it done.’ It wasn’t dictated to me, it was my decision.”

The Ready to Work program also helped him reconnect with his family. “Bridge House gave my grandmother her grandson back. Bridge House allowed me to slowly begin reconnecting with my mom. I can meet my sister from a safe place.”

After graduating, Dustin was hired as an entry level Bridge House Outdoor Work Crew Supervisor and was soon promoted to Manager of Outdoor Operations, all while taking classes to become a Certified Peer and Family Specialist. He is also currently taking classes at Front Range Community College and building his credit to purchase a home.

Dustin has no regrets. “I wouldn’t be the person I happen to be now if I didn’t have the life I’ve had. I’m grateful for my experience.” One quote particularly resonates with Dustin: “In the end, only 3 things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.”