Charities to establish permanent shelter for women

Julie Filby

To serve one of the most vulnerable populations in the Denver metro area, homeless single women, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Denver will open the city’s first long-term emergency center for women this month.

Homeless women make up 45 percent of the Denver’s homeless population comprised of 11,377 men, women and children, according to a policy brief by the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless in 2012.

“The United States has the largest number of homeless women among industrialized nations,” according to the brief, “and the highest number on record since the Great Depression.”

The shelter will open within an area of Charities’ existing Samaritan House—a shelter at 2301 Lawrence St. that serves 3,500 men, women and children each year. It will have capacity for 100 women and will be called Holy Rosary at Samaritan House. The permanent shelter will replace a temporary one established over the winter at Holy Rosary Church at 4688 Pearl St. in the Globeville neighborhood, near the Interstates 25 and 70 interchange.

“The zoning code around the current temporary shelter didn’t allow for a permanent shelter so we needed to find a new place by April 15,” said Geoff Bennett, vice president of shelter and community outreach services for Catholic Charities. “So we moved fast into finding a solution to shelter the women.”

The temporary shelter will close this spring. To provide the new shelter, Charities entered into an agreement with The Salvation Army to extend the Samaritan House men’s emergency overflow into The Salvation Army’s Crossroads Center. The Crossroads Center, located at 1901 29th St., is less than a mile from Samaritan House. It can accommodate up to 100 men per night.

“The Samaritan House emergency overflow program is not ending,” Bennett explained, “but instead is being continued at Crossroads Center. All the conveniences and amenities offered at Samaritan House to the men will be extended at Crossroads.”

Holy Rosary at Samaritan House will also absorb the Salvation Army’s Red Shield program which currently houses 30 women.

“We are very excited to be working with The Salvation Army to continue our men’s shelter services,” Bennett said, “while opening a long-term emergency overnight shelter for women.”

Samaritan House is unique, he added, in that it is able to accommodate women, men and families under one roof.

“That is not the case for the majority of the other shelters that mostly take men only,” he said.

Each year, Samaritan House provides 118,000 nights of shelter and serves 240,000 warm meals. It is one of Charities’ four shelters in the archdiocese—along with Father Ed Judy House in Denver, Guadalupe Community Shelter in Greeley and The Mission in Fort Collins—providing “love, safety, shelter, clothing, food and supportive services to help restore dignity, regain lost hope, and reclaim ownership of their lives and reintegrate into the community.”

Holy Rosary at Samaritan House will open April 15.

COMING UP: Juan Carlos Reyes, Director of Centro San Juan Diego, has been called to the Father’s House

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A happy, hardworking man dedicated to evangelization and to Hispanic immigrants: With these words, friends and coworkers remember Juan Carlos Reyes, who passed away March 20 after fighting a grave illness over the previous two months. He was 33.

Juan Carlos was born in Michoacán, Mex., on Dec. 28, 1985. He arrived to the United States at a young age, completed his secondary studies and later a bachelor’s degree in religious sciences thanks to an agreement between the Anáhuac University in Mexico City and Centro San Juan Diego. He was also a student at the Denver Catholic Biblical School under the Lay Division of St. John Vianney Seminary.

As a teen, he joined a youth group at St. Anthony of Padua in Denver and attended Centro San Juan Diego for various classes and trainings for pastoral workers.

He began working at Centro San Juan Diego in 2012, was promoted to Director of the Family Services in 2015 and became director of the organization in March 2018. As director, he led important programs that sought care for immigrants and formation for pastoral workers. Juan Carlos was one of the initiators of the agreement between Centro San Juan Diego and Universidad Autónoma del Estado de Puebla (UPAEP) in Mexico, making it possible for many immigrants to obtain a bachelor’s degree in their native language valid in the United States.

“To talk about Centro San Juan Diego is, in a sense, to talk about my own life. I would not be here if it were not for Centro San Juan Diego’s support. I saw in CSJD an active Church that reached out to me,” Juan Carlos told the Denver Catholic in October 2018. He was also a delegate for the V National Encuentro in Grapevine, Texas, this past September.

Besides working for the Archdiocese, Juan Carlos conducted a ministry with his brother titled Agua y Sangre” (Blood and Water), in which they commented on the daily Mass readings via YouTube, reaching up to 100,000 views daily.

One of his closest friends was Alfonso Lara, Director of Hispanic Evangelization for the Archdiocese of Denver. “Many of us witnessed how Juan Carlos grew and matured as a man, as a Christian, as a Catholic, as a leader,” he said. “His potential, spirit and commitment were always attractive. I always admired his youthfulness, dedication and love for people. He emerged from the Hispanic community and later served and poured out his heart to them.”

Luis Soto, Director of Parish Implementation and Hispanic Outreach for the Augustine Institute and former Director of Centro San Juan Diego, met Juan Carlos when he was 15 years old, and remembers him as a “dynamic, funny [young man] with many ideas and a great desire to serve. He was a member of a family that was committed to the faith. He was restless and had a great desire to learn in order to serve better. He would register for any program we started.”

Abram León, Lay Ecclesial Movement Specialist for the Archdiocese of Denver, remembers Juan Carlos as “a great human being” who “was proud to be a father.” Deacon Rubén Durán, the archdiocese’s Hispanic Family Ministry Specialist, also remembers him as “a man of God, of deep faith. He evangelized with words and actions.”

Juan Carlos was a loving husband to his wife of more than 10 years and a proud father of three sons.