Call to Charity

by Larry Smith

I believe that Catholic Charities has a two-fold responsibility – to serve those who have a need to receive, and those who have a need to give. I pray that you will join me in this amazing and rewarding adventure.

Larry Smith, CEO
Catholic Charities of Denver

 

Call to Charity: Time for brave hearts

Date 04.01.14

(Larry's column appeared in the March 26 edition of the Denver Catholic Register.)

"We treat Jesus and refer to him all the time as if he's just a woman, feminine all the time: he's weeping all the time and he never picks a fight and he certainly never wins any, and he's just so nice, like a greeting card...No! He is a lion, he is fierce. There is a reason that every single man I have ever met on the planet loves the movie 'Braveheart.' And every single normal woman I have ever met on the face of the earth loves every single man like that."

That's Gianna Jessen, who spoke to 850 people March 8 in Denver at the Catholic Charities Beacon of Hope Gala for Lighthouse and Women's Services. Jessen is an abortion survivor who says she has the "gift of cerebral palsy" and refers to herself as "God's girl." The gala raised more than $500,000 for a range of women's services provided by Catholic Charities, including the Lighthouse Women's Center, which offers a lifeline to women in crisis pregnancies, right across the street from Planned Parenthood.

Following Jessen on stage, I remarked that the new face of poverty is a single woman and her child, and that the thing that is missing is men. They're just not there.

We need men to focus on their families and to provide an example, to stand up and be counted as the Christian men that we are, to not be afraid to use the word 'Jesus' in a daily conversation, to bring our faith into our daily lives.

This is an era of absent men.

It takes a brave man to be charitable and to put his family first. Because society tells us to put yourself first. To be a steward, to be a warrior for Jesus, a man must defend and protect his family. Are you loving your family and raising your sons to be honorable men, to love women, to defend women? Are you raising your sons and daughters to be chaste and—if called to marriage—to seek a spouse for lifelong marriage? Are we open to God's gift of children and not mangled in the false promises of contraception and abortion?

It's time for brave hearts.

With three weeks left in Lent, resolve to write down your answers to those questions, one each week.

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See videos and a media gallery from the Lighthouse and Women's Services gala.

Catholic Charities in Denver: Saving and changing lives

Date 03.26.14

"Our goal is not to ask who are you, but what do you need?" said Larry Smith, the president and CEO of Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese of Denver, describing the work of Lighthouse & Women's Services during the Beacon of Hope Gala, held March 8, 2014 in Denver.

See the video below and the full media archive of the event linked here, including videos of keynote speaker Gianna Jessen and a special presentation by a student at Notre Dame Catholic School in Denver. Updated 4/1/14.


Larry Smith radio interview: a Catholic Charities mission of love, mercy, joy and hope

Date 03.02.14

Hear Larry Smith, president and CEO of Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese of Denver, interviewed on the ICOSA radio show, which aired on 710 KNUS on Jan. 22, 2014.

Call to Charity: Our charities begin at home

Date 02.20.14

(Larry's column appeared in the Feb. 18 edition of the Denver Catholic Register.)

How can I help?

That is a beautiful question. And those who answer it by serving the hungry and the homeless are performing acts of mercy.

Yet, charity is something each of us can do in every moment of every day. It's simply saying "hello" and "God bless." It's listening to your neighbor. Helping your child. The most important thing may seem like getting your child to soccer practice. It's really getting them to Mass, to the Eucharist, to confession. It's sharing the love that you have for Jesus Christ.

The greatest charitable act that we can do—as parents—is to share our faith with our children. If you are raising children of faith, children who believe in Jesus Christ, they will take that charity into the world.

It's not easy. Looking back, I thank God that my picture was not used as the poster boy image for the seven deadly sins. We're all broken. We're all searching for one thing, God. Fortunately, he sent his son, Jesus Christ, to search for us, searching our hearts to bring us home.

Pope Francis said that, to be like Christ, "we should not put ourselves above others, but indeed lower ourselves, place ourselves at the service of others, become small with the small and poor with the poor. It is regrettable to see a Christian who does not want to lower himself, who does not want to serve."

At Catholic Charities—supported by your time, talent and treasure—we serve those we may not know. But that's not separate from serving those that you do know. They're both charitable activities. Charity may be giving something to someone: a coat, a sandwich, a place to sleep. That's important. But charity is also living love and mercy at home, in the Church, in our neighborhoods and in the public square. When you truly think about your neighbors as yourself, it changes the whole dynamic of charity.

If that continues to happen, Catholic Charities will remain vigorous because the graces of so many lives lived close to Christ can't help but overflow into our mission of Family and Child Care Services, Shelter Services and Women's Services.

Visit Catholic Charities of the Denver Archdiocese at www.ccdenver.org or call 303-742-0828 to learn more, volunteer or make a donation.

Denver Mayor Hancock describes Catholic Charities as “valuable partner”

Date 02.06.14

After a visit to Mi Segunda Casa Head Start, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock spoke with Larry Smith, the president and CEO of Catholic Charities, about continuing a partnership of service.

"Catholic Charities has perennially been a partner in the city, throughout the region, quite frankly, in helping us to develop smarter, healthier young people," said Hancock on Jan. 8. "And what you do – you're a valuable partner in the City of Denver – with regards to childcare, pre-school and Early Head Start. So, you're a valuable stakeholder..."

Mi Segunda Casa Head Start, located at 430 W. 9th Ave., serves children ages three to five years old.

"We're looking forward to continuing our partnership with the city," Smith said to Hancock. "Not just with our early childhood development, but with help to the homeless at our Samaritan House, and a lot of the other programs that we feel a strong partnership with the city, so thank you very much."

"Please keep up the good work," said Hancock. "Thanks for being our partner."

Call to Charity: A beacon of hope in women's services

Date 01.31.14

(Larry's column appeared in the Jan. 22, 2014, edition of the Denver Catholic Register.)

Something remarkable is happening in the Archdiocese of Denver. We are participating in, and witnessing, an evolution in women's services, including prenatal care, counseling and provision of basic necessities. It's happening here because Catholic Charities includes the Respect Life Resources office, the Gabriel Project and Lighthouse Women's Center.

To have that range of women's services within a Catholic Charities organization is unique. It is also a tremendous opportunity to take those services throughout northern Colorado.

It makes sense because our mission is to "extend the healing ministry of Jesus Christ to the poor and those in need." The "poor" may be a baby in utero—and the mother carrying that child. It may be a woman who has suffered domestic abuse and needs shelter, with her children, so she can find a new home with stability.

Those "in need" may also include donors with a need to give—a need fulfilled by supporting Women's Services of Catholic Charities. Those services include Lighthouse Women's Center, a licensed medical center, located across from Planned Parenthood; the Gabriel Project, which has four parish-based locations, providing pregnant women and new mothers with diapers, blankets and other goods and resources; Father Ed Judy House, which provides shelter for homeless women and children; and Project Rachel, our post-abortive counseling, provided through Regina Caeli Clinical Services.

At Lighthouse, women are served with dignity, compassion and medically sound counseling, including free pregnancy testing, free ultrasound imaging and a vast range of referrals. In doing this work, we've realized that those women—and others—may need a continuum of care that includes emergency assistance, shelter, counseling, housing, child care, immigration assistance and victim assistance.

Our Beacon of Hope Gala on March 8 at Wings Over the Rockies is a great way to support Lighthouse and women's services. The inaugural 2012 Lighthouse event raised $150,000. Last year's event raised $250,000. Our goal this year is $500,000, which will allow us to greatly expand our services to women.

The keynote speaker will be Gianna Jessen, an abortion survivor and inspiration for the film, "October Baby." Her testimony is powerful. Powerful, too, is the opportunity we have here. We invite you to join the vision and support the Beacon of Hope Gala. If you currently participate—and we deeply appreciate that—I pray that you will redouble your efforts to support this evolution in women's services that's happening right in our own community.

Larry Smith is the president and CEO of Catholic Charities of the Denver Archdiocese. Visit us online at www.ccdenver.org or call 303-742-0828 to learn more, volunteer or make a donation.

Three things to know about Catholic Charities of Denver

Date 01.28.14

Larry Smith, president and CEO of Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese of Denver, explains its mission of mercy and love in this video.

It is faithful to the teachings of the Catholic Church.

In providing services, these are the only questions asked: Are you hungry, are you cold, are you tired, are you sick, do you need clothing, do you need a place to sleep?

"We get to do all of that with the mercy and love of Jesus Christ as our guiding principle, the guiding light behind everything that we do," said Smith.

Call to Charity: The joy of giving

Date 01.25.14

(Larry's column 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 www.ccdenver.org 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 www.ccdenver.org/about-tax-credits.

Call to Charity: Many reasons for thanksgiving at Samaritan House

Date 11.26.13

(Larry's column 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

Date 10.24.13

Call to Charity: Special Ops for men

(Larry's column 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.

 

Call to Charity: Can you spare $50 to help disaster survivors?

Date 10.24.13

Call to Charity: Can you spare $50 to help disaster survivors?

(Larry's column appeared in the Oct. 23, 2013, edition of the Denver Catholic Register.)

When we think of the homeless, it's often those on the street and in shelters, people that Catholic Charities seeks to help every day in service to Christ.

There's another group of homeless, those forced out of their homes through disaster, as we all witnessed in September after the flooding in northern Colorado.

"They are living in warehouses, churches or hotels or are crammed into the spare rooms of friends and relatives because there are so few rentals available," The Denver Post reported of more than 300 immigrants, primarily the undocumented.

In Milliken, as Catholic Charities participated in a Coats for Colorado distribution, I heard that a house was taken off the market temporarily in order to allow people to sleep there. If so, that's a remarkable act of charity.

Here's how we can respond. If 1,000 people will donate $50 apiece, that will provide $50,000 toward our outreach in the flood zone, including housing needs and other necessities such as food and clothing assistance. That should help dozens of people get through the coming weeks.

We are working with other organizations on longer-term housing solutions. If you have been abundantly blessed by God, please consider a greater gift to Catholic Charities to help flood disaster survivors rebuild their lives going forward. I'll report back in a future "Call to Charity" column on what your support has accomplished.

To participate, click the "Donate" link below. Donations may also be mailed to: Catholic Charities, 4045 Pecos St., Denver, CO 80211.

After the Floods: A Letter of Appreciation

Date 10.24.13

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 www.ccdenver.org to see all that has been done – and can be done.

 

A Need to Give - A Need to Receive

Date 10.24.13

"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.

Catholic Charities Disaster Response Highlighted on "Just Love" Sirius XM

Date 10.23.13

Larry Smith, president and CEO of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Denver, appeared on the "Just Love" show, which aired Sept. 28, 2013, on SIRIUS XM Satellite Radio on The Catholic Channel 129. He discussed the disaster relief response in Colorado following the September floods and related issues. Listen to the interview of Smith by Monsignor Kevin Sullivan at this link, starting at 10:35. Sullivan is the executive director of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York.

Meeting the need for housing in Colorado's flood zone

Date 10.15.13

Catholic Charities is "working with interfaith communities and partnerships to figure out long-term housing solutions" in the areas of Colorado devastated by the September floods, said Larry Smith, president and CEO of Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese of Denver.

"We have to really hunker down and figure out how we're going to help these folks long term," said Smith, interviewed Oct. 9, 2013 in Milliken amid the Coats for Colorado distribution. "And where are we going to find that long-term housing solution that we're going to need for them? A lot of folks are going to be displaced, probably, but at least we'll be able to find someplace for them to live. And that's really the next focus for Catholic Charities."