Step Denver helps support Coloradans’ alcohol-related treatment with new funding; “My life depends on my recovery”

By Mekialaya White

CBS News Colorado

The Caring for Denver Foundation is helping reshape alcohol-related treatment with an investment of more than $3.2 million across six groups here in Colorado.

“We live in a society that says, ‘Pull yourself up by your bootstraps.’ This idea that we need to connect with other people and heal together,” said Lorez Meinhold, the Caring for Denver Executive Director. “It’s just an opportunity to lift up and raise the issues. How do we heal and address the trauma so we don’t have to use those substances to subside what we may be feeling. It’s easier to enter recovery when you know you’re not in it alone.”


One such group receiving funds is Step Denver. It’s a residential program that helps men with no resources and nowhere else to turn take the first step toward recovery. CBS News Colorado got an inside look at the powerful, restorative impact being made right inside its doors.

“It was amazing to just cook my own food and cook with the other guys,” Angelo Lucero said, while wiping down a kitchen counter inside one of the residences. It’s a sense of freedom for Lucero after being shackled for years by addiction.

“Before I came into program, I was basically drinking every day, really on my way to a death bed,” he said. “Once we take that first drink, we are powerless against stopping. Once we start, we can’t stop.”

“I don’t think — I know I’d be dead if I didn’t come to this program,” Derrik Bunyon echoed. 

Bunyon says he was introduced to his drug of choice at a young age. “When I was 5 years old, I was introduced to alcohol … and ever since then, I used those substances and others to not think or feel or just black out,” he continued.

Both men found the courage to stop back in 2020, with the help of Step Denver, overcoming their similar battles together.

“I went to sleep one night, and it was cold,” Bunyon said. “I woke up under some snow, and I had a brief moment of clarity and said, ‘I can’t do another winter homeless in Colorado.’ So I went to detox, called Step Denver on Monday and was here on Tuesday, haven’t looked back since.”

“A big motivation for me was I had a 5-year-old son. I wanted to be a present father for him. This program not only taught me to be a father but to live a normal life again,” Lucero added.

Recovery happened over time, as they were assisted with sobriety, work, accountability and community. And now, these two aren’t just thriving; they’re helping bring up the next generation of sober men as support managers.

“I know for a fact my life depends on my recovery. This has been life changing. It’s been difficult. It’s been exciting, sometimes frustrating and scary, but the best experience of my life for sure,” Bunyon said. “To get to play a small part in someone’s recovery, it’s beyond my wildest dreams. I wouldn’t imagine doing this, but now, I do. I couldn’t see myself doing anything else.”

Step Denver is always taking residents. Visit Step Denver’s website to learn more about how to apply.