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The Matt Erickson Story

If you ever come to the Romero House, you will likely find a man and his walker, always up and about making coffee and answering the door. If you get him talking, which is not hard to do, he will tell you all about his time in a Christian rock band, or how he used to drive a taxi in Ames, which means he knows where everything is. He goes by many nicknames at the house: “Old Matt,” “Matt with a cane,” and “Rock Star” are but a few of them. This man, Matt Erickson, is one of the most radiant men you will ever meet. 

As is true for many regulars at the Romero House, Matt started showing up when he moved into the Bridge Home, the homeless shelter in Ames that serves both men and women. At the start of the pandemic, Matt lost his job as a taxi driver and moved into the Bridge Home in October 2023. He lived with his sister and then with a friend, but after a while, he  “had to get out of each of their ways”. He spent his first week at the Bridge Home lost; like most homeless people in Ames, he would spend his days at the library and eat dinner at Food at First, the local soup kitchen. One Saturday, Dwayne, now a live-in at the Romero House, went over to the Bridge Home to lead a prayer group and invite the attendees to Mass the next day. Matt took full advantage of this, participating in both the prayer group as well as accompanying Dwayne to Mass the next day. Once Matt came to the Romero House for the first time, he never stopped coming. 

At first, Matt was skeptical of the hospitality he received from the volunteers. Over time, Matt began to enjoy it, even helping out with chores such as brewing coffee and washing dishes. As Matt continued to visit the Romero House, he fell in love with the community, joking with others and reminiscing about their pasts. He came so frequently that he eventually asked Matt Mitchell, the founder of the Romero House, if he could become one of the volunteers. He transitioned from the one being served to the one serving others. At the same time, Matt Erickson started the process for disability insurance. He also ended his month at the Bridge Home and moved to the Motor Lodge, a motel in town. The Romero House Staff, recognizing that motel stays are incredibly unsustainable, helped Matt to find a more sustainable place to live. First, he stayed with a young couple involved at the Romero House, and now he lives with another volunteer. Matt hopes to hear back soon from the Social Security office about his disability insurance so that he can live on his own again. 

The most beautiful aspect of Matt’s journey is his conversion to the Catholic faith. Having spent the better part of the last thirty years as an atheist, he started returning to church following an encounter with the demonic in 2017. Having grown up a Methodist, he first attended the Methodist Church in downtown Ames. After Dwayne invited him to Mass in late October, Matt knew he was home. He was most convinced by the beauty and reverence of the Mass, something he hadn’t experienced before in either the Methodist or the Presbyterian churches. Now Matt is in RCIA, learning about the faith, and hoping to be confirmed into the Catholic Church in the next few months. 

Matt has made great strides in turning his life around. Just a few months ago, he had no idea where he was going or what he would do with his life. Because of what we do at the Romero House, Matt has taken big steps towards financial independence. But we are most proud of him for falling in love with Christ again and are excited to see where Matt goes from here.

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