Transformation through Work Therapy

For one hour daily, nearly 70 students at Union Gospel Mission remake beds, clean bathrooms, and gather laundry. This is more than work—it’s transformation.

When men come to the Mission, they have few resources. Some are facing drug or alcohol addictions, and all are ready to make significant lifestyle shifts. In addition to classes and programs, the work therapy program is a catalyst for change.

More than Work

Chris Suerig, the CRC Director, mentioned the intention behind work therapy. The biggest life change for men in the program is not becoming sober. Chris tells new students there’s only one thing to change: everything. For most students, renewing thoughts, beliefs, and behavior is most difficult. However, working instills the values of discipline, structure, and stewardship.

After months or years of unemployment, finding a job can be challenging. According to the Denver Rescue Mission, work therapy programs give participants skills employers are seeking, such as following a schedule, working with a team, and completing tasks.

“Work therapy teaches responsibility,” explained Todd, a CRC intern. “Some people have never worked a real job. It teaches skills some students have never done before. It gives people a sense of purpose.”

The Director of Discipleship, Chris Salmon, said the program teaches students how to have a strong work ethic. “We create an environment where students are trained to work under supervision and acquire the skills needed to stay employed,” he commented.

Change in Community

Students also learn how to share their talents with others. As they work together, a sense of family is developed. Men call each other “brother,” learn to care for each other and celebrate small triumphs.

Rob shared what he gained from the program: “At first cleaning the chapel was overwhelming. We clashed until we figured out who would do what task, but we learned to work together. The bond is phenomenal.”

Whether they are shoveling snow, taking out trash, or sweeping the kitchen, students in the work therapy program are on the path to renewal and recovery.