EMPTY STOCKING FUND: Man would go hungry without Westside CARES

by Jesse Paul Special to The Gazette - Updated: December 18, 2013 at 10:02 pm • Published: December 18, 2013 | 1:40 pm 0

This is one of a series of stories about the nonprofit agencies that receive money from The Gazette/El Pomar Foundation Empty Stocking campaign that runs through the holidays.

Separated after 17 years of marriage, Steve found himself homeless and out of work after enduring many bouts of domestic abuse from his estranged wife.

Up until a few years ago, Steve, whose full name isn't being used to protect his privacy, would find a place to sleep near the intersection of Nevada Avenue and Fillmore Street.

"I moved around the north end just so people wouldn't see me there all the time," said Steve, now 61. "I tried to stay away from everybody else. I was on my own."

But Steve isn't alone any longer thanks to the help of Westside CARES, which has provided the disabled senior-citizen with food vouchers since he moved into a senior housing program last summer.

Westside CARES helps the working poor on the west side of Colorado Springs and El Paso County, providing emergency assistance with housing, food, transportation, school supplies and medical needs.

"I would go hungry if it weren't for Westside CARES," said Steve. "They set me up pretty good with food."

Depression and anxiety - which Steve says he has suffered all his life - ended a 24-year career in the automotive transmission business, forcing him into tough times.

"I've been a people person most of my life and I get along with most everybody," he said. "But, you know, it just started affecting me mentally."

While he remains unemployed and has trouble concentrating, the measure of stability in his life has allowed him a positive outlook.

"Everything is actually going pretty good," he said.

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