Rick’s Speech—Text from a Speaker at Homeless Gear’s Recent Fundraising Event

My name is Rick, and if you want to know the good that you all do, if you want to know how your efforts save lives, I’m living proof.

I don’t want to talk too much about all the hard things I’ve had in my life. For one thing, I’m not sure it’s all that interesting. For another, I know I brought those hard times on to myself.

It’s a story that’s sadly all too familiar.  I started smoking weed as a teenager and it wasn’t that long before I turned to harder drugs. I had a son at 24. More drugs, harder drugs. I had a daughter at 26. More drugs, harder drugs.  My life was spinning out of control, much faster than I could ever hope to put it back together. I moved from Colorado to Utah and back to Colorado.

Eventually, it spun so far down that I hit bottom.

For me, bottom was prison, where I spent five years.  Everything I did, all the problems I had, all the losses of money and jobs and friends and family – it was all because of drugs.  In prison, I saw no reason to think that anything in my life would ever change.  I had nothing, and nothing to look forward to.

My life was a hole I had dug myself into, and I saw no way to ever get out of it.

I got out of prison on December 12, 2014, with no job, no family, no friends, no hope.  Then, on December 17, 2014, I met Linda Nuss.  It was five days after I had gotten out of prison, and five days before my dad died. It was the first day of my new life.

To say Linda and Homeless Gear have been an inspiration to me would be an understatement.

To say they have taken me under their wing and protected me and showed me the way would be an understatement.  To say that they saved my life would be an understatement.

What makes Homeless Gear, and Linda, so different than anything else I’ve ever had in my life is the personal interest and attention they’ve showed me and the example they set about how a life could be lived.  The lifestyle they promoted is also the lifestyle they practice every day.  A life that’s clean, honest and kind. They are the role models I never imagined I’d have.

Thanks to Linda and Homeless Gear, I got jobs, real jobs —washing dishes, working for a landscaping company and working at Valley Steel & Wire, where my boss was Dave Wasson, who is here today.

These people showed me kindness that I can’t begin to thank them for.

Then, when I found myself slipping back, Linda and Homeless Gear were there to make sure I didn’t slip too far, getting me into Fort Lyon where I have been since March and will be for the next year and a half.

For the first time in my life, I have the freedom to go to school, to do what I want to do, to make the right choices.

Those are all the facts, but let me tell you what’s really different about my life, and why my life can be divided into two parts: Before Homeless Gear and After Homeless Gear.

When I was in prison, I could see where I was going: nowhere.  And I was going there real fast.

I had two definite things in my future; prison and death.  There was nothing else.  There were no other paths that seemed open to me.  But with the support I have from Homeless Gear, I suddenly have a chance to go down a road that I’ve rarely traveled in my life.

If I do right by them and myself, if I can love myself and believe in myself, if I can believe in my future as much as they believe in my future, I know I can keep moving forward.

For the first time, I look ahead and I don’t just see prison and death.  I see a good job, a house, a family.  I see a life that for most of you seems ordinary and natural, but which I never thought was within my reach. 

Now I not only think it’s possible. I think it’s likely.  You can’t imagine what that feels like.

I know what it’s like to always take the wrong road, and I know what it’s like to sometimes take the right road, and the right road is a much better place to be. 

I know what it’s like to have nobody.  It’s lonely, it’s scary, it’s dark, it’s cold. 

Now, thanks to Homeless Gear, I also know what it’s like to have somebody.  It’s warm, it’s safe, it’s right.

Somebody asked me today if I feel cursed to have had so much suffering in my life, or if I feel lucky that finally, things are looking better.  There’s no question about it: I am lucky.  I am lucky because unlike most people, I know what it’s like to have nothing.  I know what it’s like to have less than nothing, to lose everything.

And knowing what that’s like to have nothing makes it so much better when you finally have something.

Because believe me, there’s no comparison.