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Priest Finds Ranks of Needy Are Growing : Father Woody’s Food Lines Get Longer

United Press International

People with money to invest are rejoicing because the stock market has never been better, but people with no money for the food market are lining up in record numbers for Father Woody’s free sandwiches.

Father C. B. Woodrich, 62, said he and his volunteers from Holy Ghost Catholic Church pass out as many as 600 sandwiches a day--three times what they were distributing at the peak of the recession a few years ago.

“I know we never got families during the recession,” Woodrich said. “It was just unheard of. We get many families now.”

Shadow of Skyscrapers

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They come to a tiny public area near the church in the shadows of downtown Denver’s shiny new skyscrapers. It’s just a patch of land separating busy streets and it can barely accommodate the line that forms for the 10 a.m. daily handout.

“Bologna, cheese and bread,” Woodrich said, “that’s what we give them. It’s fresh bread, though. I will not buy day-old bread just because they are poor.”

Woodrich long has championed the causes of the homeless and hungry. He was instrumental in convincing President Lyndon B. Johnson to begin a free breakfast and cheap lunch program for schoolchildren.

A few years ago, Woodrich had almost $8,000 worth of holiday offerings changed into $10 bills and distributed them on Christmas morning to Denver’s street people. “I give away whatever I’ve got,” Woodrich said, “and when I get absolutely down to nothing, some more comes in.”

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Because of his interest and efforts, there is a $6.5-million church-run shelter under construction in downtown Denver. When it opens in October, it will provide housing and meals for 275 people. There will be areas for single men and for single women. Families will remain together in private quarters.

Entirely Church Funded

The facility will be funded entirely through the Catholic Church, Woodrich said. The city of Denver does not operate any shelters for the homeless but provides a building for another charity, Volunteers of America, where 125 people can sleep.

Any referrals made to the Catholic shelter by city officials or employees will be unofficial.

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Woodrich said there will be an area for recreation and relaxation in an effort to combat the constant worry and mental depression that go with being jobless and broke.

“It’s the first time in the history of the United States that much money has been spent on a building to house poor people,” Woodrich said. “It’s the most money we’ve ever spent on any project in the history of this archdiocese.”

Needy people can live there for as long as 90 days, Woodrich said. It will provide them with a home address and a telephone number to use on job applications.

Accounts Don’t Jibe

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The facility will help combat a problem that Woodrich said is mushrooming. He said the poverty and despair he sees on the streets and in his sandwich line do not jibe with the Reagan Administration’s glowing accounts of the economy.

“There is a whole brand new civilization in this country,” Woodrich said. “We’re generating a civilization of homeless, dejected people. It’s impossible to get down to the depths of their thinking. These are people who have lost all hope.”


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