With pride beaming on his face, Donald shares exciting news – his 32nd great-grandchild was born earlier that week. He displays a photo of his newborn great-granddaughter on his phone to those he has grown close with at Samaritan House.
It’s not uncommon to find Donald in the early hours of the day in the cafeteria or recreation room, talking to new and old friends about his job and the latest resources he’s learned about. With a coffee in hand and his work uniform on, he is ready to tackle another day. His bright and infectious personality has given him somewhat of a celebrity status at the shelter. He inspires people to work hard and utilize what is in front of them.
“Being here is like a second chance. I haven’t gotten everything I’ve wanted (to accomplish) in the two years since I have relapsed,” said Donald.
During his stay on the veteran’s floor at Samaritan House, he has maintained his two-year-long sobriety and stays busy working as a transporter at the Veterans Administration Hospital in downtown Denver to help fellow veterans. The 70-year-old rides in golf cards, picking up individuals who are seeking care. His favorite part of the job is talking with people about their time in service and swapping stories about the good times, and bad. His warm smile and empathetic nature instantly put veterans at ease.
“It helps me process my time in the Navy when I hear other stories about their experiences,” shared Donald. “Our generation, especially the veterans are so overlooked, and listening is sometimes the first step for people that I talk to.
As his family grows, he is reminded of how special each interaction with them is. He scrolls through his Facebook page, sharing updates and photos of more family members that have welcomed him back in their lives. The throws of addiction separated him from his family for many years, years he knows he won’t get back. But with grace and service to others, he is slowly healing from his PTSD as a veteran himself and working on maintaining peace.
Whether Donald is helping a new resident at Samaritan House navigate their daily routine, or talking through the struggles a veteran in his golf cart at the VA is facing, Donald has found fulfillment in helping others. Through his dedication and unwavering spirit, Donald has become a guiding light for veterans navigating the complex path of healing, proving that even in challenging times, a single act of kindness could change lives.