We often hear about the Corporal Works of Mercy, but what is their significance? As the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops tells us, “The Corporal Works of Mercy are found in the teachings of Jesus and give us a model for how we should treat all others as if they were Christ in disguise.”
Monument House in Colorado Springs — part of Mesa Housing, Inc., founded by Steve Handen — is a transitional home for men who would otherwise be homeless, thus carrying out the work of “sheltering the homeless.” Up to 10 men can live in the home — many are coming out of prison or off the street. The house has zero tolerance for drugs, alcohol, and pornography.
“This is a safe place for men to get grounded and back on their feet,” says Ed Achtenberg. He and his wife, Anita, both parishioners of Holy Apostles, have lived at and managed the home since it was started 13 years ago.
The Achtenbergs have seen 157 residents go through the home. Most men stay for six months to a year. The men are required to be looking for work and attend some weekly family events hosted by the house, like Thursday or Sunday dinner, Saturday movie night, and Sunday game night.
Ed and Anita are thankful to the parish members who come and serve family dinners on a regular basis. They would love to see more groups get involved.
“These are all just people who are trying to get their lives back together,” Anita says.
For a time, Ed was homeless. He lived at Mesa House and eventually helped with some of the managing when Steve Handen needed assistance. When Steve purchased Monument House, the Achtenbergs expressed interest in taking it over. Ed and Anita practice their faith, but otherwise, the home is non-denominational. They are open to anyone and everyone.
For Ed and Anita, living at Monument House has truly been a calling. They are thankful to a previous resident who comes when they are out of town to manage the house and continue the routines.
“We have people say, ‘I couldn’t do what you do,’” Anita says. “We don’t do much. The Holy Spirit works through us. We love what we do. We don’t get tired of what we do.”
Monument House relies on private donors and does not receive federal or state funding. Service is a significant aspect of living in the home. Ed and Anita find ways for the men to support the community and neighborhood.
If you’d like to help make a meal at the home or provide an in-kind donation such as cleaning supplies, toilet paper, napkins, or linens, please email Ed and Anita at email@example.com