Stories of Senior Support Services
Meet clients of SSS and read their stories. Learn how SSS- with your help- has made things better for them.
A number of faith organizations prepare and serve dinners at Senior Support Services on weeknights. This video was prepared by one of them, Park Hill United Methodist Church.
Throughout his life, experts have labeled Manny Gutierrez everything from “retarded” to schizophrenic to epileptic, prescribing medications that have often left him dazed and paranoid. Born with disabilities that most would find impossible to overcome, he has faced these challenges with courage and determination. He worked very hard and became the dock supervisor of a company when he was just 16 years old. For the next 50 years, “hard worker” was the middle name he proudly wore.
When Manny first came to our day shelter, he was homeless and overmedicated. He would walk miles and miles of random streets without promise of home, comfort or security. Time was his only companion and it was only over time that he came to trust his friends at Senior Support Services. Slowly, he emerged from isolation, realizing we were here to help.
With a nice apartment nearby, lots of friends, food and clothing, Manny is doing wonderfully now. Always a good cash manager, he even has some saved for a rainy day. When he splurges, it’s on ice cream and new shoes that don’t hurt his feet. One of our best workers, he volunteers at our day shelter. Most importantly, he is happy and loved.
78 years old. Client since 2013.
Cora did not want to quit school but her family needed the money. So at age 16, she moved to Denver to look for work. She quickly got a job as a live-in housekeeper and began saving in hopes of continuing her education. Her faith and desire to provide for her family got her through tough times. A few years later, her church helped her enroll in classes to earn a GED and attend community college. After graduation, Cora obtained a job in customer service and accounting.
Cora takes prides in the fact she was able to raise 6 children through hard work and determination. But she has buried 4 of them, the most recent being her daughter for whom Cora stopped working in order to serve as primary caregiver.
Early last year Cora was diagnosed with lung cancer. After a long hospital stay, she was released only to discover she had lost her apartment. She states, “I was overwhelmed with medical bills, the treatments I was receiving, and had no place to live“. Currently staying with various relatives, she hopes we can help her find housing though her medical condition makes it unlikely she will ever be able to live on her own. Cora enjoys coming to our day center to socialize and play the piano when her fingers allow it.
57 years old. Client since 2013.
During his rookie season as cornerback for the Buffalo Bills, Roland’s fiancé was killed in a car accident as she was traveling to see him play. He quit the team. “I was in complete withdrawal. I did not care about football or anything.”
When the Dallas Cowboys contacted him, it was a chance to get his life back. But he had trouble managing his addictions, was frustrated by team politics, and was ultimately overcome with emotion. After his last year in football which was playing with the Denver Broncos, he held various jobs while dealing with serious family issues, physical disabilities due to football, homelessness, and drug use which eventually landed him in jail. Upon release, he found himself back on the streets of Denver. “I was tired, stressed out, and did not want to ask anyone for help.”
When he discovered Senior Support, “It was like heaven. I could relax, put my stuff down, and get a hot meal. John and Molly have done so much for me and I am so grateful.” Thanks to our efforts, Roland has applied for government benefits, is looking for permanent housing, and soon hopes to get medical aid from the NFL.
66 years old. Client since 2006.
First homeless in 1999 in Wichita, Kansas, Greg came to Denver because he felt there was nothing left for him there. Initially, he spent his days walking the streets and his nights sleeping at shelters when there was room.
Since joining Senior Support, he has obtained his birth certificate and a modest but steady monthly income. We also got him housing and he has been living on his own for 8 years.
As Greg puts it, “I’m really grateful for all the ways you guys have helped me and I enjoy having a place to come and socialize and make friends. Everyone here has been so good to me. I am not sure what I would do without the center.” If not for the day center, Greg would spend most of his time alone and would have no emotional support.
76 years old. Client since 2013.
After immigrating to Colorado following World War II, Josef drove a truck for 37 years. His career ended abruptly when a violent accident with another tractor trailer left his hands and wrists shattered. Due to huge medical bills and an inability to work, he lived in his pickup with his dog, Buddy, for three years.
When Josef came to us, he had just been released from the hospital. He needed oxygen and could not get it delivered because he had no home. We were able to get the oxygen delivered to us and shortly thereafter, to house Josef at Senior Studios, the low-income housing we manage.
Josef will have heart surgery later this month and is very thankful to have a warm, safe place to go after he is released from the hospital. He is hopeful that after surgery, his health will improve enough that he can be reunited with Buddy and the two of them can hit the open road again. Josef says, “I enjoy being at SSS. It’s a real nice place and they have good people working here.”