Catholic Charities shelter gives single mothers hand up
By Nissa LaPoint/Catholic Charities of Denver
Father Ed Judy House serves as a life transforming shelter for homeless women with children—offering support and compassion to mothers long after they’ve moved on.
Like Carmen, 38, who found a fresh start in life after walking through the doors of the shelter located near Fort Logan. The staff at the Catholic Charities shelter continue to support Carmen and her 4-year-old daughter through its alumni program.
“(We) leave Father Ed Judy House, but it’s like you never left because they stay with you,” Carmen said from her home in Denver.
A drug-domestic abuse counselor is a phone call away when Carmen needs words of support, she said. A counselor at the shelter helped Carmen, who had fled an abusive relationship, was hooked on meth and needed a job. She came to Denver from Brooklyn to rebuild her life and found a new home at Father Ed Judy House. It was all made possible by God, she said.
“He’s changed my life and put everything good in my path,” Carmen said. “There’s no way I’ll let him down now.”
Carmen’s struggles began as a child in Colorado Springs when she suffered physical abuse from her mother, she said. While her father was overseas serving in the military, she began to take drugs and start fights at school. She didn’t make it past the 9th grade.
“My childhood was hard,” she said. “I longed to be home, but I didn’t want to get beaten all the time.”
She later married and had a son but lost custody after a divorce.
“I was into drugs pretty bad,” she said. “I took too long in getting clean.”
Her drug addiction continued when she began another relationship that soon turned abusive. After giving birth to her daughter, Carmen decided she needed to start over in a different city.
“And my daughter needed a new life,” she recalled.
After booking a flight to Denver, Carmen spent a short time at an emergency shelter for abused women. She then discovered Father Ed Judy House, which serves hundreds of single mothers when they run out of time at an emergency shelter. The shelter, founded in 2005, is named after Father Ed Judy, a former director of Samaritan House shelter known as a strong advocate for the homeless.
At Father Ed’s, staff focus on creating relationships with the single mothers and help them to see their God-given dignity and worth. They offer compassionate guidance and support through an alumni program to ensure a successful transition to stable housing. According to the shelter, 94 percent of families who lived at Father Ed Judy House remain in stable housing.
Carmen said she was worried at first about her new life as a single and sober mother of a young child.
“I thought, “How am I going to do this by myself?’” she recalled. “I always cried.”
She found the support she needed through the mother’s group at the shelter. While at Father Ed Judy House, she also received her first driver’s license.
Today, Carmen said she’s an advisor at her daughter’s school, regularly attends parent meetings and is an active member of a local community church. Carmen said she is a new person because of Father Ed Judy House.
“It’s crazy—good things are happening (in my life) now,” she said. “Without God, none of this would be possible.”
Carmen’s real name was changed to protect her privacy.