(Larry’s column appeared in the Nov. 27, 2013, edition of the Denver Catholic Register.)
Before helping serve a dinner recently for military veterans at Samaritan House in Denver, I sat with a table of men to learn about their lives.
“I’m happy in my apartment out in Aurora now, I’ve got my dog,” said Chuck, 64, a Vietnam-era U.S. Army veteran, referring to Ziggy, his Dachshund. “He’s great, he’s like my co-pilot. Whenever I’m feeling down, he just jumps up in my lap and he’s just all lovey.”
Samaritan House, located at 2301 Lawrence St., is a shelter that houses more than 2,600 men, women and children a year. Chuck stayed there at one point. After back surgery, he recovered at St. Joseph’s Home for Veterans, an affiliate of Samaritan House that is a group home for dozens of homeless veterans at 4626 Pennsylvania St.
“They were real good to me over there,” said Chuck. “They were kind of amazed at how fast I was up and about, because they had other guys that had the same surgery that were laid out for months. I think I had one meal delivered to my room. I walked the stairs. I was on the second floor, I’d go downstairs and I’d eat. I wanted to get well. I wanted my back to get well. It hurt, but I went down and ate. I walked.”
Our brothers and sisters walk into Samaritan House every day with very little. Catholic Charities does everything it can to care for them. Some, like Chuck, have found their way to independent living; some haven’t. We love them all the same, because they are loved first by God.
As we celebrate Thanksgiving, I pray that many like Chuck will continue to know the love and charity of Jesus Christ through your generous gifts of time, treasure and talent.