The Westwind

Off the streets: a photo essay

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Off the streets: a photo essay

Dukes greets me with a friendly smile, shows me his tablet, and starts the day.

Dukes greets me with a friendly smile, shows me his tablet, and starts the day.

Aydin Valaski

Dukes greets me with a friendly smile, shows me his tablet, and starts the day.

Aydin Valaski

Aydin Valaski

Dukes greets me with a friendly smile, shows me his tablet, and starts the day.

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These photos were taken at Denver Rescue Mission Ministry Outreach Center in Denver. I worked with participants of Denver Rescue Mission’s New Life Program. There are 107 participants in the program; all of them men who have struggles with addiction. The intent of “Off the streets” is to share the life of program participant Steven Dukes.

All photography by Aydin Valaski. 

 

Aydin Valaski
Dukes greets me with a friendly smile, shows me his tablet, and starts the day.

Dukes, 57, is close to completing the year-long New Life Program. He explains a typical day in the program: “You have Bible studies, then the small groups… at 10:00 o’clock, you have computer science… then you have the work readiness class.”

He explains the work readiness class stating, “you learn about how to resumes, cover letters, how to work correctly, about teamwork.”

Dukes also shares some deal breakers of the jobs he is looking into. “I don’t want to work downtown because of my drug addiction. There’s a lot of temptation.” 

Aydin Valaski
Dukes begins the day with bible study. Denver Rescue Mission is a non-denominational Christian organization.

When interviewed, Dukes shares “my last class of the work readiness was yesterday, then I can search for a job.” Dukes now has a job lined up with a “meals on wheels” company.

Dukes then went into more detail about his background, “I was in the [New Life]  program for a year and I relapsed on crack-cocaine, it took me three months to get back.”

Dukes explained the struggle he has had with drug addiction and how it was easy to relapse.

Aydin Valaski
Dukes smiles as he works.

The best way I can help end homelessness is to be an example.”

— Steven Dukes

Aydin Valaski
Dukes demonstrates how he sorts through items.

Aydin Valaski
Dukes loading the donated items onto the truck.

Aydin Valaski
Dukes hard at work.

Dukes explains his hobbies, “I love music… listening to music. Jazz, Christian, R&B, Rock and Roll. Oh! And I love chess.”

Dukes and I ended our day together by discussing his hopes and dreams. “I want to go to sober living… I just want to live a normal life… going to my church, going to my support group, hanging with my family, you know?”

“The best way I can help end homelessness is to be an example. They can see I’m in the program doing well. They say ‘if you can do it, I can too.’”

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Aydin Valaski, Arts and Entertainment Editor

Aydin Valaskeeeeet, also known as Aydin Valaski, is a junior at A-West. She is the Arts and Entertainment editor for the Westwind. She loves the color...

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