The History of Father Woody’s

Before anyone cared about the homeless, Monsignor Charles Woodrich known as Father Woody, became the voice and champion of the homeless.  His story began almost 40 years ago in one of those cold Colorado winter days when Father Woody wondered aloud, what would become of the homeless? Where would they seek shelter?

He decided to open the doors of his parish, downtown Denver’s landmark church, Holy Ghost.  To the dismay of many of the parishioners, for weeks, hundreds of homeless sought shelter at the parish. It was the only roof they had over their heads during the cold winter nights.  It was through that experience that he created one of Colorado’s largest homeless shelters, the Samaritan Shelter at 23rd and Lawrence.

Fast forward to December 1998, when several lay Franciscans recognized a true need for services to the homeless which were not being addressed by any other agency in the area.  They searched for and purchased the small dwelling at 707 Lipan in Denver from which to render services to the poor.  Because of its popularity, and the increase in the number people serviced, the need for a new building became critical.

In October 2007, a 5,700 square-foot building was erected. It was named, Father Woody’s Haven of Hope.  A monumument to the late Monsignor Charles Woodrich who died in 1991.  With the new building ready to serve several hundred homeless guests a day, the motto has remained the same as 4 decades ago when Father Woody first opened his doors to those in need “We are here to serve, not to judge”.

Since the opening of the new building in 2007, the old facility has become the home to 4 formally homeless people who work in the kitchen, do maintenance and work at the front desk at the facility in exchange for room and board.  The building is also used as a barber shop and meeting space for weekly Alanon meetings.  It is not an overnight shelter, but rather a place where the indigent and homeless can go to get a hot meal, take a shower, do their laundry, have their mail sent, make their phone calls, but most of all restore their dignity.

"We are here to serve, not to judge" - Father Woody