St. Benedict’s Homeless Shelter has been serving the Daviess County community for the past 16 years, providing a range of services for those experiencing homeless.

Now trying to recover from the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, St. Benedict’s Executive Director Harry Pedigo will speak about the nonprofit organization’s role in the community at 2 p.m. Friday at the Daviess County Public Library.

Pedigo said he will be “presenting the history of St. Benedict’s and giving an overview of the homeless population.”

In addition to speaking about the services offered by the shelter at 1001 W. Seventh St. in Owensboro, Pedigo said he will also use the opportunity to talk about some of the stigmas that affect homeless individuals in the community.

“I feel like a lot of the homeless are misunderstood,” he said. “Just the stigma that they can just get out and get a job and get on their feet or that homelessness itself is a problem, and it is not a problem. It is a byproduct of underlying issues.”

Pedigo said sometimes people see a homeless person and see a problem with homelessness, rather than the issues that contributed to that person becoming homeless.

As community members, it is important to be aware of the resources available to those who might be in need of help, such as shelters, food kitchens and pantries. Pedigo advises not giving money directly to a homeless individual because “there are professionals out there that are begging for money and stuff.”

According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, there are an estimated 3,688 people homeless on any given night statewide. There are eight homeless people per every 10,000 Kentucky residents. According to data from 2018, 53% of the state’s total homeless population are classified as sheltered individuals, while 23% are sheltered people in families and 21% are unsheltered. The remaining 2% are unsheltered people in families.

The highest concentrations of homeless individuals in the state are in Louisville/Jefferson County, which reported 926 homeless people on any given night, or an average of 12 per every 10,000 residents. Lexington/ Fayette County reported 685 homeless people on any given night, or an average of 21.3 per every 10,000 residents.

With a 75% reliance on community donations and fundraisers, Pedigo said the COVID-19 pandemic posed significant impacts on St. Benedict’s financial situation.

“The pandemic hit us very hard because we were still about 50% reliant on volunteer help,” Pedigo said “We have had to increase our staffing, which increased our operational costs, which in turn drained our reserve fund.”

The shelter was also forced to reduce the hours of its women and families day shelter, and even shut it down periodically for use as a quarantine shelter.

The remaining 25% of St. Benedict’s funding is a combination from other organizations such as the United Way, as well as city, county and federal governments, Pedigo said.

The organization will host its 6th Annual Golf Scramble on Sept. 18, at Panther Creek Golf Club, where the shelter hopes to raise from $10,000 to $20,000.

“I believe, and it has been proven, that when you fill the need and you are intentional and relational with the people that you serve, you don’t have to worry about the money, the support comes,” Pedigo said.

For those seeking shelter or know someone in need of shelter, St. Benedict’s Homeless Shelter can be reached at 270-541-1003.

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