Bridging the Opportunity Divide

A Nonprofit Specializing in Second Chances Gives One to an Aurora Theater Shooting Victim

November 3, 2014
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A Nonprofit Specializing in Second Chances Gives One to an Aurora Theater Shooting Victim
Marcus Weaver was shot during the Aurora Theater Shooting and was with Rebecca Wingo, one of the 12 who was killed. Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Marcus Weaver had just turned his life around when he was shot in 2012.

After Marcus Weaver graduated from college, he landed in jail — a bumpy start to adulthood resulting from poor choices that he came to recognize were influenced by growing up with an abusive stepfather.

Weaver became determined to turn his life around, so when he was released from jail about eight years ago, he went to live at New Genesis, a transitional housing space in Denver. “They offered me a job,” he tells Elizabeth Hernandez of the Denver Post, “and I didn’t screw it up.”

Weaver did much more than just not screw up — he began to help his fellow shelter residents find job placements, clothes for work and places to live. Through his efforts, Weaver connected with DenverWorks, a nonprofit that helps find employment for low-income people with disabilities, criminal records and past addictions. The organization found a job for Weaver: working for them as a mentor to others.

“It felt really great, like this was my purpose,” he says. “If you can give a person a job, that changes everything for them. I felt really good for the first time in my life.”

But then on July 20, 2012, Weaver decided to see the premier of the film “The Dark Knight Rises” with a friend. Chaos erupted when a gunman opened fire inside the theater, killing Weaver’s friend, Rebecca Wingo, and shooting Weaver in the arm.

The trauma of losing his friend and suffering a serious injury on that horrific night rattled him, and he was unable to continue his job. Finally he went to therapy and was diagnosed with PTSD.

Even though Weaver’s arm is still not healed — another surgery is scheduled for November — in March he felt ready to apply for jobs. He found himself back at DenverWorks and now serves as their outreach coordinator since the nonprofit believed that everything he’d been through would make him a big asset mentoring people trying to right their lives after suffering hard knocks.

“I see a lot of my former self in the people I’m helping. You see them change. Get a suit, get an interview, get the job. It’s so important,” says Weaver.

Currently finishing up a degree in nonprofit management, Weaver hopes it might lead to starting his own nonprofit. However lofty his goals, anyone familiar with Marcus Weaver’s life story knows it would be foolish to ever count him out.

MORE: No Longer Afraid: A Young Immigrant Victim of the Aurora Theater Shooting Steps Out of the Shadows

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