Local shelters that serve the homeless community in Owensboro are busy providing needs year round. It is during the holiday season, beginning with Thanksgiving, that efforts to meet those needs are even more demanding.
In the true spirit of giving and good will, Thanksgiving highlights what several local shelters view as an “outpouring” of community support and fellowship.
St. Benedict’s Emergency Shelter for Men serves an estimated 350 men annually. The now 24-hour facility operates on a first-come, first-serve basis. A temporary refuge for men within the community, the shelter prides itself on providing a safe and non-judgmental environment. That standard of concern and care is no different on Thanksgiving.
“My family has been planning, preparing and serving a Thanksgiving meal for the past 5 years now at the shelter,” said Harry Pedigo, St. Benedict’s Executive Director. “Over the years, board members, friends, folks within the community all pitch in. Many bring a dish, decorate, serve, fellowship and stay to eat with the men.”
Pedigo describes the annual meal as a tradition, noting even the tables at the shelter are arranged in such a way that everyone in attendance can pray and eat together as one big “family.”
“The community is always welcome. We have an open door policy,” Pedigo said. “We remind everyone that help often isn’t what is needed, it’s the fellowship that matters.”
Volunteer Coordinator Charlotte Statts of the Daniel Pitino Shelter estimates the shelter serves meals to roughly 150-200 people daily. Open seven days a week, 365 days a year, the Pitino Shelter is a “family friendly” facility serving diverse family demographics.
“We are so fortunate to have such a strong support system from within the community,” Statts said. “We are blessed to run solely on donations and our Thanksgiving meal from the turkey to the stuffing has been provided as a result of this, the generosity of others.”
A team of nine staff members and volunteers prepare, serve and clean up after the meal. The shelter anticipates a large crowd as experienced in years past.
“I think what a lot of people don’t realize is we don’t just serve individuals from within the shelter,” Statts said. “We serve the elderly, single mothers, folks in need within the community, we don’t turn anyone away during meal times.”
The Pitino Shelter serves meals from 8-11:30 a.m. daily and from 12-3 p.m. on Sundays.
“We are always looking for volunteers,” Statts said. “We love to show folks around our shelter so they can see first hand how they can help. We couldn’t do any of what we do without the support or contributions of such a great community.”