“Living in homelessness often means walking in homelessness. Cold and wet take their toll on people spending hours a day on their feet searching for shelter, food, work. A slight cut on a toe or a heal rubbed raw can escalate into a serious infection for someone without easy access to a bathroom to keep clean.
At the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, a nurse might say, “If you want to put your feet in some warm water, just do that,” Kaylanne Larrabee Chandler found when she took a job at the coalition’s clinic on Stout Street a few years ago.
“It’s breaking down barriers, trying to bring in human-to-human contact,” said Larrabee Chandler, describing both the clinic’s foot-care regime and the philosophy by which she and her housemates were living at the time, just a few blocks away at the Catholic Worker house on Welton Street.
For 38 years, volunteers like Larrabee Chandler welcomed and supported people experiencing homelessness at 2420 Welton. They followed the model that journalist Dorothy Day and Catholic social activist Peter Maurin created in 1930s New York. In Denver, the result was a sort of artisanal workshop that produced do-gooders in small batches. Founders of The Gathering Place, the Women’s Bean Project and SAME Café have ties to that rambling Catholic Worker house in Five Points. More recently, former Catholic Workers have had a hand in tiny homes, urban gardens and Denver Homeless Out Loud. Larrabee Chandler, now nursing director for the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, is among several generations of leaders in housing and hunger for whom Denver can thank the Catholic Worker movement.
“It’s so wonderful to get to be this age and see all that the Catholic Worker connected people are doing in the city,” said Anna Koop. The 79-year-old nun started Denver’s Catholic Worker house and has for decades been a quiet role model, drawing like-minded people to her and helping them share ideas and define and reach ambitious goals. Her life demonstrates that asking questions of yourself can lead, if not to answers, at least to actions that can create connections and transform communities.”
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Bryson, Donna. Denverite 11 March 2019.