Call to Charity: The joy of giving

(This column by Larry appeared in the Dec. 20, 2013, edition of the Denver Catholic Register) A mother with developmentally disabled children was flooded out of her mobile home in northern Colorado during the September floods.
Thousands of dollars were raised from a variety of sources to purchase a used mobile home that could be retrofitted with ramps and rails for her family’s needs. But it wasn’t enough money.
So, Catholic Charities recently granted her $10,000 for that purpose. And because you, dear reader, support Catholic Charities, you helped that family find a new home.
In an earlier Call to Charity column, I said I would report back on what your support has accomplished. To date, financial assistance, food and supplies totaling nearly $400,000 have been distributed in the flood zone.
The grant for a mobile home may be one of the most dramatic stories we’ve encountered among the hundreds of people we’ve helped in the disaster aftermath. But it’s just one story of many among the tens of thousands of people served by Catholic Charities through our ministries in shelter services, women’s services, and family and child care services.
The needs sometimes seem to exceed our capacity to meet them. Yet, our work each day is held to this standard: to the degree we see Christ in all of those we serve is the degree to which we succeed.
We are also called to be careful stewards of the funds entrusted to us. Your donations of time, talent and treasure mean the world to us, because — through Catholic Charities — you are sharing your gifts with others. As we enter the final week of Advent and begin to celebrate the birth of Our Lord, I pray that you may find the joy of giving: to your family, to your friends, to all those you meet and to the neediest among us, Christ in disguise.
Larry Smith is the president and CEO of Catholic Charities of the Denver Archdiocese. Visit online at or call 303-742-0828 to learn more, volunteer or make a donation. Do you know about state tax credits?


Through state tax credits, you may be able to make a $1,000 donation to Catholic Charities for less than half that amount. See more at

Many reasons for thanksgiving at Samaritan House

(This column by Larry appeared in the Nov. 27, 2013, edition of the Denver Catholic Register.)

Before helping serve a dinner recently for military veterans at Samaritan House in Denver, I sat with a table of men to learn about their lives.

“I'm happy in my apartment out in Aurora now, I've got my dog,” said Chuck, 64, a Vietnam-era U.S. Army veteran, referring to Ziggy, his Dachshund. “He's great, he's like my co-pilot. Whenever I'm feeling down, he just jumps up in my lap and he's just all lovey.”

Samaritan House, located at 2301 Lawrence St., is a shelter that houses more than 2,600 men, women and children a year. Chuck stayed there at one point. After back surgery, he recovered at St. Joseph's Home for Veterans, an affiliate of Samaritan House that is a group home for dozens of homeless veterans at 4626 Pennsylvania St.

“They were real good to me over there,” said Chuck. “They were kind of amazed at how fast I was up and about, because they had other guys that had the same surgery that were laid out for months. I think I had one meal delivered to my room. I walked the stairs. I was on the second floor, I'd go downstairs and I'd eat. I wanted to get well. I wanted my back to get well. It hurt, but I went down and ate. I walked.”

Our brothers and sisters walk into Samaritan House every day with very little. Catholic Charities does everything it can to care for them. Some, like Chuck, have found their way to independent living; some haven't. We love them all the same, because they are loved first by God.

As we celebrate Thanksgiving, I pray that many like Chuck will continue to know the love and charity of Jesus Christ through your generous gifts of time, treasure and talent.

Call to Charity: Special Ops for Men

(This column by Larry appeared in the Sept. 25, 2013, edition of the Denver Catholic Register.)

While visiting a child care center for low-income and homeless families in Denver, I saw a boy about 5 years old shy away from my approach and hide under a table. It took quite a while to coax him out.

My question was to the head of the center: Why? It turns out that such children, often being raised by single moms struggling to get by, may not have an attentive, positive male influence in their lives. What they've experienced with men may be the opposite: absent, threatening or even violent.

We hear a lot about "fatherless families," but when you see a child flinch at even the approach of a man, the numbing statistics take on a sad reality that demands a response.

Here's the plan. We need men in our community to step up and read with these kids, to play with them and just be with them in an environment that's safe. Then those children can experience something they don't see enough from men in their day-to-day lives: attention and security.

We'd like a dozen male volunteers to start this program at Catholic Charities' facilities in the Denver metro area. The time commitment would be one hour a week and we will work with your schedule. Show your interest by sending an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 720-377-1327 and we will connect you with the right people at Catholic Charities to continue the conversation.

Our mission is to serve those with a need to receive and those with a need to give. Spending time with children in need is a great witness to that. For men called to this service, it will fill your hearts.


After the floods: a letter of appreciation

(This letter from Larry appeared in the Oct. 16, 2013, edition of the Denver Catholic Register.)

At Catholic Charities, we serve those with a need to receive and those with a need to give. That relationship in Christ was dramatically evident in the disaster relief efforts that followed the September floods in Colorado.

There has been a tremendous outpouring from employees of Catholic Charities, from volunteers and from donors who have responded with great care to the needs of others. With your support, we have provided food, clothing, supplies and gift cards to more than 800 families in the last few weeks. Our work has just begun, with housing needs for flood survivors now a pressing concern. It's hard to imagine their anguish, happy to be alive but faced with rebuilding their lives.

"Getting the help from the community and the people that are willing to come in and help us out means more than anybody will ever know," said a single mom whose home was flooded.

While much remains to be done, I want to take this opportunity to thank the entire Catholic community, including parishes, business people and individuals who are offering time, resources and prayers. The Denver Catholic Register, and other media, are essential in communicating those efforts.

This has also been a collaboration with many faith-based groups working on common ground to serve the needs of others. I invite you to visit Catholic Charities online at to see all that has been done – and can be done.

A Need to Give | A Need to Receive

"With you, we can move mountains. Without you, we can achieve nothing."

Larry Smith began his tenure as Catholic Charities' new president and CEO in May 2013. In this video, he describes the mission of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Denver - and how YOU can play a key role in serving the poor, the vulnerable and the needy through your time, talent and treasure.