Chef finds new start at shelter

Tommy McCarty prepares a meal for residents at Samaritan House shelter.

“I’m Tommy and I’m a cook at Samaritan House shelter. As sous chef (second in command), I oversee cooking dinner for 350 residents—plus I train residents in the new culinary program. I’m grateful to work here.

I struggled before I came here. My wife was killed by a drunk driver five years ago. It happened on Highway 287. After 21 years of marriage, it brought me down hard. I drank too much. I’m not an alcoholic, but I chose to bury my feelings in a bottle instead of dealing with them. I’m okay now.

Then I decided it was time to get back on my feet. I knew about Samaritan House, because I once volunteered to feed the homeless outside near the shelter. I applied to the Samaritan House program and got in the first day. It was a God thing. I couldn’t have done it without him.

I started working in the kitchen and soon completed the shelter program. I didn’t like the food. I thought, ‘This has got to change.’ Then they hired me on as a full-time chef. I’ve worked here now for four months.

Cooking is my specialty. When I grew up in Amarillo, Texas, my parents owned restaurants from a pizza place, to a steak joint and then a donut shop. I grew up in it. I moved to Colorado 17 years ago—God has been a part of my life every step of the way. I continue to go to Mass at Holy Ghost Parish downtown. I’m appreciative of the opportunity to work at Samaritan House.”


Homeless in Denver at-a-glance

5,467 homeless men, women
and children counted in the
7-county Metro Denver area

Of the total respondents, 2,112
or 38.6% were female.

Source: Metro Denver Homeless
Initiative’s 2016 point-in-time study



Shelter and Housing Services provides hope to families and individuals experiencing homelessness by providing love, safety, shelter, clothing, food and services to rebuild their lives and restore dignity. Housing also provides affordable and service-enriched housing for families who cannot access housing in the marketplace.


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