Riding to help those in need

Charity begins in the heart, with putting others before yourself. Our priests, nuns and religious live out that charity by devoting their lives to spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ in word and deed.

How can the rest of us do that, too? By using our God-given talents and efforts to serve our families, parishes and communities. Serving together as a team, focused on a mission greater than ourselves, is a powerful experience.

A great example of that — on behalf of Catholic Charities — is Team Samaritan House, a group of 30 riders who will be biking more than 400 miles, from Carbondale to Fort Collins, over six days beginning June 12 as part of the annual Ride the Rockies event.

It’s the sixth year on the road for Team Samaritan House, which is seeking to raise $150,000 for our shelters, including Samaritan House at 2301 Lawrence St., where we provide a meal for just $1.60 per person. For 30 years, Samaritan House has served women, children and men experiencing homelessness — providing food, shelter, safety and support to regain stability.

Team Samaritan House is more than $60,000 to their goal and I encourage you to go to SamHouseDenver.org to learn more about the team, pick a rider to cheer on and support them with a donation. But the money raised isn’t the most important thing about Team Samaritan House. It’s their dedication to a cause.

Tom Schwein, the team captain and a Catholic Charities board member, had a terrible accident near the finish line of last year’s Ride the Rockies, breaking eight bones in his face.

“The more I thought about the homeless after my crash and the blessing we had as a cycling team to raise (more than $100,000) for the homeless of Colorado last year, the more I realized that God was not yet done with me here on earth, and was calling me to do more,” Schwein, who will once again ride this year, told us.

The team members are preparing to ride 400 miles so that other people have a clean place to sleep, clothes on their back and food to eat.

“Our team is a beacon of light for the homeless and each other,” Leslie Prevish, another Team Samaritan House rider, told us. “I feel like anybody could have a circumstance in their life where they could end up homeless. I think of how important it is to help other people in need and not judge because you don’t know their story.”

If you’d like to meet members of Team Samaritan House in person, I encourage you to attend a send-off for them the evening of Tuesday, June 7, at the Denver Press Club at 1330 Glenarm Place. 70% of the tips that night will be donated to Team Samaritan House fundraising efforts.

Three months after Ride the Rockies, on Saturday, Sept. 10, there’s another great way to support Samaritan House, by attending Sam’s Supper: The Meal that Serves Many, which will be at Mile High Station. All the details, including tickets, are available at SamHouseDenver.org.

I also invite you to take a tour of Samaritan House and perhaps sign up to serve dinner one night to the residents. It is in giving that we receive, and I pray you will find many blessings in whatever ways you choose to serve others.

Larry Smith is the president and CEO of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Denver. Visit online at ccdenver.org or call 303-742-0828 to learn more, volunteer or make a donation.

COMING UP: Cyclists back in the saddle for Samaritan House

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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.