Homeless Is Where the Heart Is

Letters to the Editor

Feelings, nothing more than feelings: While I have not lived in Denver since 1996, I still read Patricia Calhoun's columns faithfully each week. "Rise and Shine," in the November 13 issue, brought back an uneasy, helpless feeling I had while living downtown. My daily walk to work -- skirting the homeless, sometimes giving a dollar or two -- always brought these feelings. I now live in Scottsdale, Arizona, where "homeless" means people who live in a house without a pool.

While I had the means during my ten years in Denver, I never did anything to make life better for the homeless. Is it possible for me to send money to the subject of this story to help with the costs associated with this heroic effort?

Robert Case
via the Internet

Help is at hand: Thank you for the article about the Hoffers. It really resonated within me, as they have the courage to do what I've been wanting and dreaming of doing for a very long time. I've never found the guts to do it, only talked about it, and it's time for me to take action.

Veronica Pezoa
via the Internet

A better man: I want to express my prodigious fulfillment upon reading "Rise and Shine." I, for one, have been profoundly ignorant of the residence-challenged until I stumbled upon this article. This small yet compelling slice of the lost and rejected has converted my blatant ignorance into heartfelt inspiration. The celebrated Walt Whitman once said, "Charity and personal force are the only investments worth anything." Gloria, the Breakfast Lady, certainly personifies and carries out this quote with nothing but the goodness of her heart and whatever little money she can spare. She isn't trying to make proper citizens out of the rejected, she is simply displaying her genuine and benevolent self to others in need -- and sometimes what they need isn't money or shelter, but someone who sees them as ordinary people, much like anyone else.

I think what Gloria is doing is extraordinary and special; her story has certainly awakened this superficial man into honestly believing in not only the selflessness of great people, but better understanding of those who have succumbed to a life without a residence and love. I am profoundly moved, so much so that I've wiped away the tears and have embarked upon a more rewarding journey -- not for myself, but for others in this small world of ours. I hope I can shine a little light into someone's life before this journey is over, but my feats will never match what Gloria is doing for the homeless in Denver. She is a genuine angel.

Lastly, I want to commend Patricia Calhoun and Westword for bringing this story to my attention, and to the whole of Denver. It may not reach everyone, but it did enough to change my perspectives. Most important, it inspired me to want to make the world just a little bit better for everyone else. Once again, Westword reveals with brutal honesty what a worthy paper it is to the city.

Ken Rafferty

Editor's note: Gloria and Darrell Hoffer say they're both moved and amazed by the response to their story. They do not accept monetary donations, but anyone is welcome to come join them some Saturday at Lawrence Street and Park Avenue West, where they start setting out breakfast for the homeless around 9 a.m. "We're not looking for anything," says Gloria. "We just want people to come down and meet and talk with them."

The Parent Trap

Rest in peace, Jasmine: After reading Julie Jargon's "Angel Eyes," in the November 6 issue, I felt compelled to write and express my deepest sympathies to the family and thanks for those who showed so much compassion and charity toward baby Jasmine, God rest her little soul. However, the blatant disregard and disrespect shown by the father and his family is unconscionable!

As the mother of a small toddler, I can relate to the concerns Caleena Burch had about the baby's father, and I cannot imagine the heartbreak she has endured because of her baby's death. However, I absolutely cannot understand why she chose to leave that helpless baby in the care of someone who she knew had already abused the child. I don't doubt that she needed time to think about her situation, but to leave that baby with an abuser while she went out and got drunk with friends was a very, very bad judgment call, to say the least! I do feel badly that her life has been turned upside down, but that could be because of her choice to leave that baby in the "care" of the abusive father. I wish her the best and hope that in the future she sorts herself out and, most important, will make better choices and always put her daughter first.

T. Lopez
via the Internet

The blame game: Julie Jargon's slanted article sympathetic to "poor" Caleena Burch is as disgusting as the crime committed against her innocent baby, Jasmine. While Justin McIntosh is clearly guilty of abusing and ultimately shaking Jasmine to death, Caleena, both of their families and any of the so-called friends who wrote letters actually defending this baby-killer are equally to blame. Finding Justin and Caleena back in the bar scene only three months after Jasmine's death just reinforces what scum they both are. The only positive in this whole scenario is that social workers removed toddler Alyssa from her loser mother before any further damage could be done.

Lori McAnish

Baby steps: I was touched by the article about Jasmine. As a mother of two beautiful children, I hope Jasmine's mother can get past all of this and learn from her experience. I hope that she wises up on who she dates so that this will never happen to her again.

Lisa Owens

Child's prey: As a person who has taken in a baby because the parents were too young to make the right decision, I was horrified to read yet another story about an infant death. My condolences to the families -- but it's hard to feel anything for these two dimwits. I saw a picture of that beautiful baby girl; how sad that she died at the hands of her father.

Could it have been avoided? Maybe. Maybe if these bimbettes would learn to use birth control when having sex with a man they have only known for a month. As for the father, he may have been a good boy from a good home, but he didn't have the sense God gave a goose. Apparently his future wasn't that important when he was out getting his swirv on. (Can we say "condom"?) When are these young girls gonna learn that getting pregnant by a man they hardly know does not a relationship make? It seems quite clear Justin was not into the relationship or parenting from the beginning. These two had no business having a child!

It's sad, but maybe abortion was the right alternative; at least that innocent baby would not have to look into her father's eyes as he took her life, a man she was supposed to trust, her protector from all harm. If Caleena, even for a second, thought that she was still going to want her nights out with the girls, it was clear that she was not ready for motherhood. These girls need to learn that when you become a parent, the party days are over: That child should be your only priority, 100 percent of the time.

Justin's parents are the real losers here. You would think that with his mother's profession, Justin would have known better -- or at least she would have. By refusing to help or welcome this poor innocent baby, they made a bad situation worse. I hope they are happy with their decisions. This may have been the only grandchild they will get from their precious son; it's hard to father a child in jail. High-priced lawyer or not, that's where he needs to be.

But there is a bright spot: those people who donated their time, money and love. Kudos to Patrice RedEarth for her open heart and willingness to help these unfortunate children. I, along with my parents, have taken in my great-nephew because his parents were too immature to raise him, and we could not live with the thought of anything happening to him. I hope other parents, grandparents and even great-grandparents do the same. And I hope the young people reading this think twice before practicing unsafe sex with someone they barely know, and really think of the future of the child as well as themselves before taking on the parenting role. As Caleena and Justin have too harshly learned, their mistake ruined their lives and, most important, the life of a child. Be responsible for your actions and let us not suffer the children anymore.

Paul Moreno

The Light Stuff

Nasty as he wants to be: Regarding Dave Herrera's "Freak Show" and The Beatdown, both in the October 30 issue:

Shining the spotlight of our local progressive weekly on Greg Stone (Uncle Nasty) and Semifreak is furthering our music scene's reputation as a backward cowtown scene.

Semifreak, a band that has to pay to play in a cheesy L.A. club and then addresses the young women that attend the show as "hoochies," is far from progressive and hardly cover-story worthy. The same week that you put this band on the cover of your magazine, another local band, Dressy Bessy, received a three-star review in Rolling Stone and appeared on NBC's Last Call with Carson Daly. Is this not more newsworthy?

I had the unfortunate pleasure of witnessing as Uncle Nasty emceed a Monsters of Mock event at the Church a few months back. He was referring to women as bitches and making rude comments all evening. It was embarrassing and ruining the good vibe of the night. His comments were misogynistic and hickish. Today I got to read about Mr. Nasty's antics on Halloween. It didn't surprise me. Why not report on the amazing costumes worn at the Larimer Lounge on Halloween, or the all-night dance party at Hipster Youth Halfway House that night?

I just ask that Dave Herrera shine a light on the amazing, forward-thinking people who make up our local music scene. You put the spotlight on it first, and maybe the rest of the country will start to notice the good things happening around here.

Eric Halborg

People who need sheeple: We absolutely fell out reading Dave Herrera's October 23 Beatdown concerning the "hippie-jam-band mystique." I tried to read it to my wife but could hardly get through it, I was laughing so hard. We've now added the word "sheeple" to our vocabulary.

Some of my favorites from Herrera: "the look you'd wear after finding out that someone in your family is a serial killer"; "smelly, maniacal fans have multiplied, birthing a whole new generation of sheeple to ponder, 'What would Jerry do?'" (instant classic!). In relating an attempt to listen to this genre, Herrera paints a vivid picture of a man who just ate his first mouthful of lima beans: "About forty minutes later, I woke up in a pool of my own drool." Priceless!

His take is right on. The tie-dye crowd has tried to perpetuate the '60s love era in a world that has less and less time for love. And sad as that might be, hippies being apathetic about any other types of music besides what Herrera refers to as a "mutant, hybrid of gospel, funk and bluegrass" is not going to change the world -- at least not like it did in the '60s. This lazy "Jerry will provide" attitude has aged poorly and pisses off people who love songs and music.

Music takes an aggressive investment of time, reading and an open mind to discover the wide choices we are so lucky to have. These Deadweeds might also mix in a band they haven't seen for the last twenty concerts in a row and really "expand" their minds. Groupie behavior goes against everything that is great about music today. There is so much to discover, so much diversity -- why would you limit the scope of your musical possibilities? It seems like this lifestyle is more about that tired adoption of all things Birkenstock than it is about music.

Mr. Herrera, you really hit the nail on the "Deadhead"! Congratulations on your first months as Backbeat editor and for all the high energy for keeping it real that, until now, has had less of a pointy tip in Westword. I'm just going to make sure I'm sitting down and not teetering at the counter at my local Brothers BBQ when I read my weekly Beatdown!

Dave Meyer


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