Zach M’s Story

Zach M

When you talk to Zach about his path to Bridge House, what he accomplished as a Ready to Work trainee, and what he’s done since graduation in 2023, there’s an insane amount of clarity and determination communicated through his southern drawl.

After spending nine-and-a-half years in the Florida correctional system, Zach moved to Colorado for a restart out of Covid, but in 2021 almost died in a four-vehicle DUI accident. Done with drinking, and his lease coming to end, he found himself on the verge of homelessness. An online search led him to Aurora’s Ready to Work program. 

“Prison preserves you– you’re in peak health, spirituality, and your day-to-day connections change your perspective and the person you are, or were.”

He attended court and learned he could serve out his probation and supervision at Ready to Work. With a background in landscaping, it didn’t take him long to become a crew lead on the outdoor crew. He also attended peer support training, “Which was dynamite. I knew it was expensive training, so it’s amazing that they offered that.”

With a peer certification in hand, he began dual employment as a peer recovery coach facilitating large groups at Salvation Army and doing outreach work at Haven and Hope during the day and as a Fire Watch/Security guard at night. A dedicated guard service and firewatch (for pipe bursts, system failures, etc.), Fire Watch provided steady employment which also allowed him time to do his DAP notes to bill Medicaid for group and one-on-one sessions with clients that he had earlier in the day, not to stay on Medicaid. 

“I did what was supposed to be done,” and is now independently employed for six months, taking free IT and cyber security classes. 

When asked what Ready to Work did for him, he shared, “It allowed me to get off probation early, finance a vehicle, receive independent housing assistance and allowed a smooth transition once my background check was capped at seven years. 

“The recovery community is a network and I use the resources I learned at Ready to Work across the board.

“I accomplished so much there. That program is dope, and I’ve referred probably a dozen clients. I share what the program did for me, and what it can do for them.” 

Now Zach is looking ahead to being a first-time home buyer program, and starting his own firewatch company in the Denver Metro area.

When asked if he had plans to return to Florida he laughed, “Florida is great for retirement, but not for getting into trouble. The state of Colorado provides you ways to NOT go to prison and offers  behavioral care as well.”

His dad moved to Colorado in March, he’s reconnected with family here and has a small, but strong, social circle. His mom now lives on the Blackfoot Indian Reservation in Montana and he has met his half sister there. 

“I lost 10 years and am playing a lot of catch up.”