(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.