The Gazette – By Ellie Cole

Life hasn’t ever been easy for 24-year-old Dylan Liquori. But, when was he was 18, he found an unwavering constant in his life: Urban Peak.

“The better you do in life, the more they help you,” Liquori said.

Urban Peak helped Liquori find homes through their services as well as those of the Salvation Army of El Paso County.

“The importance of Urban Peak in Colorado Springs is that when we can step in and help a youth earlier in life who has started down the road of homelessness, we can really change their trajectory,” said Shawna Kemppainen, executive director of Urban Peak Colorado Springs.

Kemppainen said the organizations works with youth from an accepting, trustful and secure place and know that it is transformational for them.

“Urban Peak’s mission is to ignite the potential in youth to exit homelessness,” Kemppainen said. “And our goal is that they lead self-determined, fulfilled lives.”

Liquori was born in Colorado Springs and was adopted at age four. He moved out on his own when some family issues arose. The first time he went to Urban Peak he had little life experiences and had to pay bills. He lived at Urban Peak for about a year. They helped him get on his feet, for the first time on his own, and then he got married, found a job and said he was doing very well.

“Things were good,” he said. “Then I went through a divorce, and I lost everything and became homeless,” he said. The divorce ended up costing so much that he lost everything. He tried to move to Indiana for a fresh start, but decided he needed to return home to Colorado Springs.

“I felt it was time to come home,” he said. “But coming home was a lot more difficult than I anticipated. I ran into past fines from parking tickets and I couldn’t pay them, so I ended up spending some time in county jail to pay them off.”

From there, Liquori was homeless and lived in what he called “Tent City.”

“Allison from Urban Peak found out I was over there, and she came over and got me into housing,” Liquori said. Urban Peak helped him find housing through the Salvation Army.

The Salvation Army has helped those in need in El Paso County for over a century. They help individuals by providing them with the basic necessities that many take for granted.

Jeane Turner, community relations director for the Salvation Army of El Paso County, said that the biggest value of having a program like the Salvation Army is that it offers services that support people in resolving issues so they can move into a home on their own and it holds people accountable.

“We really work to restore that self-sufficiency,” Turner said.

Liquori spent about a month and a half in Salvation Army housing, and now he is able to live on his own. He works at a call center and has taken the time to work on his relationship with his adopted mother.

“To do that, I personally needed a boost of confidence,” he said. “I kind of feel like a parent’s biggest goal for a kid is for them to be happy and succeed. Before I reached out I wanted to be on my feet.”

Liquori said the help he’s received led to his wanting to give back to the community.

“The people who helped me out inspired me to volunteer,” he said.

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