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Volunteer Spotlight - Father Maurice Chase

Father Maurice Chase: Making a Difference, $1 at a Time

Fr. Maurice Chase

To the residents of Los Angeles’ Skid Row, he’s known as “Father Dollar.”

On Sundays, you can find hundreds of the poorest residents of LA lined up and waiting for a chance to meet Fr. Maurice Chase, receive a blessing, and walk away with a crisp, new dollar bill.

Father Chase is a former fundraiser for Loyola Marymount University, and has been handing out dollar bills (and blessings) to the poor of Los Angeles for the last 24 years, and today, at 90 years old, he’s still going strong.

Performing his task of charity on Sundays, Father Chase of the Skid Row Charity Fund hands out hundreds or even thousands of dollars to the poor, face to face, on the streets of LA. On occasion, he has been known to hand out larger sums to those in dire situations. For example, on March 17th, his 90th birthday, he handed out $15,000 in a single day, much of it in hundred dollar bills reserved for mothers with children. And yes, police are often present for safety purposes (the LA Police chief is a big supporter).

Fr. Chase finds great meaning in his somewhat unorthodox charitable mission. He prefers the hands on approach to charity which puts him personally in touch with the poor. For Father Chase, the critical part is not the dollar amount but knowing that at least everyone is walking away with the feeling of something in their pocket, and the priceless feeling that someone cares.

Fr. Chase doesn’t ask what people use the money for, and chooses not to judge. His mission is about letting all people know that they have not been forgotten, and they are loved. Going out onto the street and exchanging a blessing and a kind word with those in need is part of his ministry; the city and its poor is his extended parish.

The impact of Fr. Chase’s Skid Row Charity Fund has gained admiration far beyond the streets where the priest has been known to sleep outside overnight to draw attention to the plight of the homeless. The list of big name donors to Chase’s mission, contacts made during his time as a university fundraiser, reads like a who’s who of Hollywood stage and screen. Chase notes that he has received donations in the past from the likes of Frank Sinatra and Gregory Peck, Bob Newhart and Loretta Young, Vin Skully and Jimmy Stewart, Bob Hope and Red Buttons, and countless others.

During these challenging times, more people are waiting in line for assistance than ever before, and Fr. Chase has increased the amounts he is handing out. After over two decades, those in need know they can still come every Sunday to the corner of 5th and Towne Street, and find “Father Dollar.”