Father Woody's Haven of Hope
Jim Underwood is an ambassador for Rocky Mountain CTN and focuses on getting to know the heart of non-profits in our region. Check out his blog below on his visit to Father Woody's Haven of Hope.
“Brown Palace for the Homeless”
Imagine being homeless with no where to turn and no one to turn to for help. You are on the street and it seems like you have burned all your bridges. Where do you turn? You may be ashamed of your circumstances and so many questions fill your mind. Does anyone love me? Does my life even matter? Is there any hope? The answer is yes, yes, and YES. In the heart of the city is an organization that touches the lives of hundreds of people every day. It is known as Father Woody’s Haven of Hope.
The history of Father Woody’s is a beautiful love story caring for “the least of these.” It all started in a 100 year old, 800 sq ft house at 707 Lipan Street back in 2003. The house was purchased by two Secular Franciscans, Larry Gosselin and Baldemar Garza, who lived in the basement of the residence full-time. After the Franciscans purchased the property, they began using it to provide showers, wash clothing, give haircuts, and feed hot breakfast 5 days a week to the homeless population of Denver. The meals were served outside in tents and even on the coldest of mornings and afternoons, the Franciscans would average 50 to 60 “guests” per day, sometimes reaching close to 100. In 2004, Jay Gould joined the Franciscans, eventually becoming President, and chose to live in the house full-time, as well.
In 2007, they constructed a new facility and began serving 500-600 people per day. Guests continued to enjoy breakfast & lunch, as well as private showers. Over the years additional services including internet access, mail and document safe-keeping, clothing, over the counter medication and hygiene packs were added. They teamed with other organizations throughout Denver to provide health screening, dental work, substance abuse counseling, and other services to help get their “guests” back on their feet.
When a “guest” approaches the front doors of Father Woody’s one can immediately see the heart of this organization. There is a bronze sculpture of “Homeless Jesus.” It was created by Timothy Schmalz from Canada that depicts Jesus as a homeless person sleeping on a park bench. It is meant to show the commitment to serving “the least of these” that Jesus loves.
Notice the use of the term “guest.” The people that walk through the doors of Father Woody’s are known and referred to as “guests.” They are not referred to as homeless, addicts, mentally ill, or anything else. Each guest is treated with honor and respect. From the time you walk through the threshold of Father Woody’s you are welcomed, loved and served. The guests find safety, shelter, and services served without judgment. Because of this hospitality, many in the community refer to it as “The Brown Palace for the Homeless.” Many of these guests go on to work for Father Woody’s in various capacities. They work not only to get back on their feet, but to serve other guests that find themselves in need of assistance.
I walked out of my meeting with Executive Director, Brian Willie, with tears in my eyes and a heart filled with joy. This is an organization that is truly reaching out to the community and serving just as Jesus commands. In everything they do, they are showing the love of Christ. All this started simply because two Franciscans wanted to make a difference in their community.
I walked out of Father Woody’s knowing I needed to do more to serve my Father’s “guests.”
Ambassador for Rocky Mountain CTN
For more information and to find out how you can be a part of this great organization,
visit their website: https://frwoodyshavenofhope.org/
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At Rocky Mountain CTN our mission is focused on empowering viewers to discover a fulfilled life by providing relevant media that connects people to God and community to change our culture. This blog is made up of thoughts to start that change.
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