Neelish P’s Story

Neelish P photo

Neelish walks into the common space of the Ready to Work house in Boulder with a container of his magic cookie bars (brownies), baking now a hobby after spending time in the kitchen with the grandfather who raised him and various culinary jobs since the time he was 14 years old, including Community Table Kitchen in Boulder.

His story starts at a young age he was, “predisposed to addiction through the cycle of lineage and normality of use within the household.” As the younger son of an alcoholic father, and addicted mother, he and his brother were raised by his paternal grandparents in Aurora until they had lost both of them by the age of 10.

After various living conditions that included his father through middle school, his mother at the start of high school, and his step sister until he dropped out at the age of 17, his first stint with homelessness began and he lived wherever the light rail went for four years, sleeping in various apartment building roof access landings, picking up general labor and restaurant gigs when he could.

But when he left a failed relationship and housing at 27, he called his brother, “What do I do?”. A Ready to Work graduate himself, Kumar said, “Call DeeDee” the then-house manager at Boulder’s Ready to Work house. Two days later a buddy dropped him off at the post office next door.

“I didn’t know what to expect when I got here; I hadn’t been sober in 10 years. But I knew that I didn’t want to go back to the BS, so I willfully had to fortify myself to push through here. This place, it’s not easy.

“But with how easy going the staff were here, and other clients who were here, the welcoming factor definitely helps in getting my mindset together to push through the program.”

I didn’t have the perfect program, but I definitely wasn’t doing anything that I was doing beforehand.”

In his eight months at Ready to Work Neelish worked through his cycle of anxiety, anguish, feelings of depression, and need for meds. He was assigned to the outdoor crew originally, but Dee Dee knew he had kitchen experience, so Chef John pulled him into the kitchen where he worked until he graduated.

Now he talks about his end goal: taking his manager level servsafe certification to owning a food truck and traveling around the U.S., serving a rolling menu of locally sourced Asian American, BBQ, and fast foods eventually wanting to franchise his trucks.

“If I didn’t talk to my brother when I did, I don’t know where I’d be,” he reflected. “I didn’t take my stay here for granted, and with some sobriety under my belt, the appreciation I have for Bridge House now, and for the rest of my life, is undying.

I want to be a case manager or housing operations manager. That would give me an avenue to stay out of food (for now). Whether that’s in Boulder, Aurora, or the new location (in Englewood) if I can curate a sub-entity along the way for teens/adolescents (The Little Bridge) where kids can come for resources.

Had I known about places like this when I was on the streets, I wouldn’t have suffered for as long as I did. Younger cats need a hand up. At the end of the day unless you’re show that you DO have an option, you can go as long as I did without knowing there are avenues for that.

I have lived experience. I have a lot to say. I like to help people. And at the end of the day, food makes everyone happy.”