‘Worth every second’

Kansans experience a conversion volunteering at Samaritan House

Despite fear of the unknown, a group of faithful Kansans came to the big city to help the needy.

“This was the first time doing this from our community,” said Rick Binder, a farmer from Hays, Kan., 340 miles east of Denver, about the volunteer group. “The group was excited—they couldn’t wait to help somebody.”

But witnessing homelessness was a new experience for the volunteers who grew up in the rural community where “everything is nice, tidy and neat,” he said. Some had never seen a person living on the street.

“It wasn’t that we were scared but more of this fear of the unknown,” shared Christian Lutz, who works on a cattle ranch. “We’ve never experienced anything like this.”

Binder had connected with Samaritan House shelter for a previous volunteer experience. He then gathered a group from his church, Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Hays, and organized a volunteer weekend in Denver that included serving women in the shelter, organizing the storehouse, and praying for life near Marisol Health.

“We put together a spiritual map for our trip. We prayed on the way out,” he said.

Their mission to love others was met with difficulty. Some women in the shelter seemed unappreciative and cold. The group felt they weren’t making a difference. After a few times of serving, the volunteers and shelter residents began to recognize each other, talk and laugh.

Volunteers from Hays, Kan., prepare to serve meals to homeless women at Samaritan House shelter in Denver.

Volunteers from Hays, Kan., prepare to serve meals to homeless women at Samaritan House shelter in Denver.

“We were getting some hugs and exchanges for thanks,” Binder said. “A transformation took place in our hearts when we get to know each other as people and were ourselves.”

He said they saw that loving others may not be met with gratitude or change—that’s ultimately up to God. However, their own hearts grew from the experience.

“A conversion took place in our hearts,” Binder shared. “It was a very real experience for us and that was the experience of our hearts. Our mission is to love the person God puts in front of us at every given moment of our lives to the best of our ability. It was worth every second. We will be back.”


Open your heart

Pray– Offer prayers for the mission of Catholic Charities and the people it serves.
Volunteer– Share your time and talents with the most needy in the community.
Give– Commit to a one-time or monthly donation to make a difference. $25, $100 or more!