Family finds fresh start at Samaritan House

Moira Cullings

Andrea and her three children were out of options.

“I had no money, no car, no credit, no husband, no college education, no job, no financial stability,” said Andrea. “My faith and my children were all I had.”

The lack of necessities resulted from abusive and damaging relationships that left the family on their own.

“I found myself a single mother with PTSD, with two autistic children and a baby,” said Andrea. “I was unprepared.”

Andrea struggled to find work because it required finding childcare for her kids — one that was equipped to handle children with special needs — and she couldn’t afford it.

Unexpected costs and time-consuming issues that come with parenthood made holding down a consistent job tough. The jobs Andrea did take on — from babysitting to housecleaning to working at fast food restaurants — didn’t pay the bills.

“It all wasn’t quite enough to keep our heads above water,” said Andrea.

When Andrea and her family eventually lost their home in Colorado Springs, they moved in with relatives in Denver, where things didn’t go as smoothly as the family hoped.

“All parties involved knew that it was a temporary living situation, but I never imagined we’d be asked to leave so soon and without warning,” said Andrea. “It hurt my heart.”

Living in a new city without a home, Andrea desperately searched online for help.

“These are the circumstances that led me and my family to the Samaritan House.”

‘A blessing from God’

Samaritan House is a shelter run by Catholic Charities that provides a safe environment for people who are homeless. It offers meals, shelter, security, case management and individual guidance to help those it serves get on a path to success.

Samaritan House receives a percentage of funding from the Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal, and the lives of families like Andrea’s are transformed through its gifts.

“The new start my family has been able to make here in Denver is a blessing from God — heavily due to the program we went through at the Samaritan House,” said Andrea.

The family that was once overwhelmed by the daunting challenges of life was suddenly overwhelmed by the goodness of mankind.

“Love and compassion were available and obvious throughout the entire facility,” said Andrea. “The children and I always felt safe and protected.”

Andrea worked with a case manager who helped her reach short- and long-term goals related to employment, housing, healthcare and education. She was able to search for jobs, houses and other necessities because of the computers available inside Samaritan House’s resource room.

The Samaritan House is a shelter run by Catholic Charities that provides meals, shelter, security, case management and individual guidance to help those it serves get on a path to success.

Andrea’s kids loved the meals they shared and the activities they participated in — including hiking, swimming, sports camps, birthday parties and youth groups.

“All of my three kids never once felt ‘homeless’ during our time at Samaritan House,” said Andrea. “In fact, they referred to the program as home …”

Daily life in the program also required focus and discipline from the family, which Andrea says has helped them in their fresh start.

“The required sobriety, savings goals, curfew and chores we had to do while in the program made it so much easier for me to establish a healthy structure and way of life in our current home,” she said.

Renewed faith

One of the greatest gifts Samaritan House granted Andrea and her family is a restored faith in God.

“Most importantly, the greatness of faith in our Lord and savior Jesus Christ that has been restored in my children and myself is much due to the faith-based care and guidance we received at the Samaritan House,” Andrea said.

The difference the program made in the family’s spiritual life is apparent.

“We smile more, hold our heads higher, walk with more confidence,” she said. “The strength the children developed through last year’s struggles resounds in their personalities, schoolwork and in their precious eyes when they commit to a goal.

“A spiritual growth in the children is clear to me as well,” she added. “They pray more, read the Bible more, ask questions about it all and seem to have an understanding that was previously lacking. I, too, have a zeal for the Lord that perhaps had been put on hold often in the past.”

Andrea and her family now have their own home. Her children flourish in sports, independence, interest in education and compassion for others. Andrea has hopes for getting a degree to be a music therapist and eventually starting her own nonprofit devoted to serving the community and those in need through art and creativity.

Andrea remains grateful and deeply inspired by those who served her family during a time of dire need.

“I treasure and thank the Lord for my experience at the Samaritan House,” she said.

Support Samaritan House
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COMING UP: A last chance for Australian justice

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My late parents loved Cardinal George Pell, whom they knew for decades. So I found it a happy coincidence that, on November 12 (which would have been my parents’ 70th wedding anniversary), a two-judge panel of Australia’s High Court referred to the entire Court the cardinal’s request for “special leave” to appeal his incomprehensible conviction on charges of “historic sexual abuse,” and the even-more-incomprehensible denial of his appeal against that manifestly unsafe verdict.

Thus in 2020 the highest judicial authority in Australia will review the Pell case, which gives the High Court the opportunity to reverse a gross injustice and acquit the cardinal of a hideous crime: a “crime” that Pell insists never happened; a “crime” for which not a shred of corroborating evidence has yet been produced; a “crime” that simply could not have happened in the circumstances and under the conditions it was alleged to have been committed.

Since Cardinal Pell’s original appeal was denied in August by two of three judges on an appellate panel in the State of Victoria, the majority decision to uphold Pell’s conviction has come under withering criticism for relying primarily on the credibility of the alleged victim. As the judge who voted to sustain the cardinal’s appeal pointed out (in a dissent that one distinguished Australian attorney described as the most important legal document in that country’s history), witness credibility – a thoroughly subjective judgment-call – is a very shaky standard by which to find someone guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.” It has also been noted by fair-minded people that the dissenting judge, Mark Weinberg, is the most respected criminal jurist in Australia, while his two colleagues on the appellate panel had little or no criminal law experience. Weinberg’s lengthy and devastating critique of his two colleagues’ shallow arguments seemed intended to signal the High Court that something was seriously awry here and that the reputation of Australian justice – as well as the fate of an innocent man – was at stake.

Other recent straws in the wind Down Under have given hope to the cardinal’s supporters that justice may yet be done in his case.

Andrew Bolt, a television journalist with a nationwide audience, walked himself through the alleged series of events at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne, within the timeframe in which they were supposed to have occurred, and concluded that the prosecution’s case, and the decisions by both the convicting jury and the majority of the appeal panel, simply made no sense. What was supposed to have happened could not have happened how it did and when it did.

Australians willing to ignore the vicious anti-Pell polemics that have fouled their country’s public life for years also heard from two former workers at the cathedral, who stated categorically that what was alleged to have happened could not have happened how it did and when it did, because they were a few yards away from Cardinal Pell at the precise time he was alleged to have abused two choirboys.

Then there was Anthony Charles Smith, a veteran criminal attorney (and not a Catholic), who wrote in Annals Australasia that the Pell verdict and the denial of his appeal “curdles my stomach.” How, he asked, could a guilty verdict be rendered on “evidence….so weak and bordering on the preposterous?” The only plausible answer, he suggested, was that Pell’s “guilt” was assumed by many, thanks to “an avalanche of adverse publicity” ginned up by “a mob baying for Pell’s blood” and influencing “a media [that] should always be skeptical.”

Even more strikingly, the left-leaning Saturday Paper, no friend of Cardinal Pell or the Catholic Church, published an article in which Russell Marks – a one-time research assistant on an anti-Pell book – argued that the two judges on the appellate panel who voted to uphold the cardinal’s conviction “effectively allowed no possible defense for Pell: there was nothing his lawyers could have said or done, because the judges appeared to argue it was enough to simply believe the complainant on the basis of his performance under cross examination.”

The Australian criminal justice system has stumbled or failed at every stage of this case. The High Court of Australia can break that losing streak, free an innocent man, and restore the reputation of Australian justice in the world. Whatever the subsequent fallout from the rabid Pell-haters, friends of justice must hope that that is what happens when the High Court hears the cardinal’s case – Australia’s Dreyfus Case – next year.

Photo: CON CHRONIS/AFP/Getty Images