Cyclists back in the saddle for Samaritan House

Team Samaritan House hopes to raise $75,000 to support the homeless in northern Colorado by cycling 465 miles in seven days during this summer’s Ride the Rockies tour.

Team Samaritan House, created by Tom Schwein and Tom Dea in support of the men, women and children at the Samaritan House shelter of Catholic Charities, is in its fifth year. It has grown to 19 members who are in the process of seeking individuals and corporations to sponsor their participation in the ride that begins June 13 in Grand Junction and winds through Hotchkiss, Gunnison, Crested Butte, Salida and Cañon City before finishing in Westcliffe June 20.

“When you get on a bike to ride 465 miles to raise money for the poor, every pedal that you push reminds you of a plight much worse than your own,” according to Larry Smith, Charities’ president and CEO and Team Samaritan House member. “It puts you in a position to really appreciate how hard it must be to live as a homeless person, without income, without a place to live.”

Samaritan House provides overnight shelter as well as intensive case management for longer-term residents. It is one of four Charities’ shelters in the archdiocese including the Father Ed Judy House in Denver, The Mission in Fort Collins and Guadalupe Community Center in Greeley.

“It’s humbling for the Team Samaritan House riders to know that while we’re experiencing God’s beauty and creation—albeit from a very sore saddle and aching legs—we’re doing it for people living a life on the streets that many of us can’t comprehend,” Smith said.

During the ride, in its 30th year, participants will visit two natural wonders, Colorado National Monument and Grand Mesa; ascend a total of 40,537 feet including Cottonwood and Hardscrabble passes, travel over Royal Gorge Bridge, and navigate the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.

Each member of Team Samaritan House committed to a minimum of $1,500; with a goal to raising $5,000 each. As of May 8, they had received pledges of more than $14,000. For more information, visit http://ccdenver.org/rtr.

COMING UP: Care for Her Act: A common-sense approach to caring for women and their babies

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The pro-life community is often accused of only being pro-birth; however, a congressman from Nebraska is seeking to not only bring more visibility to the countless organizations which provide care for women experiencing crisis pregnancies through birth and beyond, but to also imitate that care at the federal level and enshrine it into law.

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R), who serves the first congressional district in Nebraska, is expected to introduce the Care for Her Act to Congress soon, a bill that’s been in the works since last year. The overall goal of the bill is to “[commit] to care for that journey of life through a complementary set of services whereby the government makes a decided choice on behalf of the life of the unborn child and meeting the needs of the expectant mother,” Rep. Fortenberry told the Denver Catholic.

The Care For Act seeks to accomplish this through four basic provisions: A $3,600 tax credit for unborn children which would apply retroactively after the child is born, in addition to the existing tax credit for children; a comprehensive assessment and cataloguing of the programs and resources that are available to expectant mothers; providing federal grants to advance maternal housing, job training mentorships and other educational opportunities for expectant mothers; and lastly, offering financial incentives to communities that improve maternal and child health outcomes.

The Biden Administration recently indicated that they’ll be removing the Hyde Amendment in next year’s budget, which has historically been in place to prohibit pubic funds from going to abortions. The Care for Her Act would circumvent this to some degree, and it would also test whether Rep. Fortenberry’s dissenting colleagues who have in the past expressed that women should be cared for throughout their pregnancies and beyond are willing to stand by their words.

While the conversation around pregnancy and women’s health often centers around abortion, Rep. Fortenberry intentionally crafted the Care for Her Act to not be against abortion, per se, but rather for women and their babies.

“Abortion has caused such a deep wound in the soul of America,” Rep. Fortenberry said. “However, the flip side of this is not only what we are against, because it is so harmful, but what are we for? So many wonderful people throughout this country carry the burden of trying to be with women in that vulnerable moment where there is an unexpected pregnancy and show them the gift of what is possible for that child and for that woman. Let’s do that with government policy as well.”

Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R) of Nebraska is expected to introduce the Care for Her Act to Congress soon, a bill which seeks to provide a community of care for women facing an unexpected pregnancy. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. House of Representatives)

Even The Washington Post has taken notice of the Care for Her Act. Earlier this year, Rep. Fortenberry introduced the idea to his constituents, and as to be expected, he received mixed feedback. Those who are pro-life were supportive of the idea, while those who support abortions were more apprehensive. Still others shared consternation about what the government ought to or ought not to do, expressing concern about what the Care for Her Act seeks to do.

“My response is, if we’re going to spend money, what is the most important thing? And in my mind, this is it,” Rep. Fortenberry said.

However, he was very encouraged by one response in particular, which for him really illustrates why this bill is so important and needed.

“One woman wrote me and said, ‘Jeff, I had an abortion when I was young. But if I had this complement of services and commitment of community around me, I would have made another decision,'” Rep. Fortenberry recalled. “And I said ‘yes.’ That’s why we are doing this. For her.”

So far, Rep. Fortenberry has been able to usher support from a number of women representatives on his side of the aisle. He is hopeful, though, that support could come from all sides of the political spectrum.

“Is it possible this could be bipartisan? I would certainly hope so, because it should transcend a political divide,” he explained. “We, of course, stand against abortion because it is so detrimental to women and obviously the unborn child. At the same time though, I think that others could join us who maybe don’t have the fullness of our perspective, who want to see the government actually make a choice on behalf of protecting that unborn life.”

Amidst the politically polarizing discussions about pregnancy and unborn life, the Care for Her act is a common-sense approach to caring for women and their babies. It offers women facing an unexpected pregnancy the chance to experience hope in a seemingly hopeless situation and make a life-giving decision for both herself and her child.

“I’m excited by this,” Rep. Fortenberry said. “I think it opens a whole new set of imaginative possibilities for America, a transformative ideal that again makes this moment of vulnerability when there is an unexpected pregnancy, our chance, our commitment as a community of care.”