Where are you from originally?
I am originally from East Chicago, Indiana. My family and I moved out to Colorado, specifically Montebello, when I was in early high school.
When did you move to Colorado and how did you decide on Montebello?
My mother decided that she wanted a better place to raise her children. The area we were in of East Chicago is a very condensed area with high crime. As a kid growing up you always had a general uncertainty that you would make it out alive. So, we packed up in a Cadillac Deuce and a Quarter and headed out towards Colorado with my grandma. I sat on my basketball the whole drive and brought nothing with me but my clothes. That was around 1989 or 1990. We settled over in Montebello in Aurora because of family that was already out there.
What was the change like adjusting to living in Montebello compared to East Chicago?
There was a sense of relief that came from the general environment of Denver. Like I said, I experienced a lot of tragedy firsthand in East Chicago due to the crime and out here it seemed like I had more of an opportunity to make something of my life. I will always have a love for home (Indiana), but it just didn’t have what I needed to succeed. I gravitated towards the lifestyle and landscape of Denver. In East Chicago everything is so condensed and it’s just one area. There’s not a whole lot to do and it can feel like you can’t really stretch your legs as an individual in terms of growth. Out here there are so many different parts to Denver, you can really spread out and find your own place geographically and as a person. Also, there was a whole different set of cultures, activities and resources to experience that I wasn’t used to.
You have a really good knowledge of the Lakewood area now (West Denver). When did you move out here?
I wanted to go somewhere calm and peaceful, the people that I met were really cool. So, I made the move about 7 years ago. I settled here at 40 West a little more recently, just over a year ago. This place has the sense of security and comfort that I was looking for. I just wanted to be able to have a place that I felt safe and away from all the drama. I know that sounds like a basic thing, but in my life experiences there was no shortage of window breaking, gun shots and police outside in the community. It’s so quiet here and I like the people.
What is something unique about the Denver culture you were mentioning earlier that you picked up on? Any hobbies or interests?
So, part of the reason why I know the area so well is the biking here. It seemed to really be a normal thing when I got out here and I really loved it. I picked up biking as just the way I generally got around. And then one day I just stopped driving and instead was riding my bike all the time. And I haven’t driven now, or at least I haven’t had my own vehicle, in years. I either walk, take my bike or public transportation. I felt like it was one less bill to pay.
Do you still bike avidly?
I was gifted a bike by DQ, the resident coordinator here at 40 West. I was very grateful for that! I didn’t have one for a while before then, so I’m excited to get back on it when the weather is nice again!
What do you like about living at 40 West?
I feel comfortable here at 40 West, safer than when I was living down the street. I love the activities that we do and that there is always help and resources when we need it. There’s so much support. And I love the ladies that run the operation! DQ, Rose and Kendall are awesome.
Life lessons to live by?
Love unconditionally. Some people don’t know what love is, how to give it or receive it. So, love others unconditionally.