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Love in a hard town

Steve Handen - JANE MCBEE

On Wednesday, May 28, a gathering at the Penrose House honored eight local nonprofit agencies that were recipients of Independence Community Fund awards and the ICF's annual Community Builder Award winner. Longtime local activist for the poor and the homeless, Steve Handen, was named ICF Community Builder and was introduced by Springs attorney Gregory Walta with these words:

"I've known Steve Handen for more than three decades. He's the most consistent guy I've ever known. He's been a principled and humble nonconformist who tries to pattern his life after the teachings of Gandhi and Christ.

"Whenever there has been war or oppression, Steve has protested with Gandhi's belief that 'nonviolence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind.' In a town where the military reigns supreme, Steve has been a gadfly for peace and nonviolence.

"But he has done more than try to stop violence -- he has built and given much. The Marion House Soup Kitchen for the hungry. Bijou House for the homeless. Help for women in Chiapas.

"In a town where many preach narrow and cold religion, Steve has lived out the spirit of the New Testament. When people were hungry, he gave them food. When they were thirsty, he gave them drink. When they were homeless, he gave shelter. When they were sick or in prison, he visited them. And most of all, when this town treated people like outsiders or strangers, he stepped up and welcomed them.

"Day by day, he's handed out love in a hard town. We're indebted for that. We've been lucky to have him."

-- For information on this year's Independence Community Fund recipients, to donate or to be placed on a mailing list for applications for 2004, click on the ICF button at or e-mail

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