Chamber Member of the Week: St. Benedict’s Homeless Shelter

Chamber Member of the Week: St. Benedict’s Homeless Shelter

St. Benedict’s Homeless Shelter has played an integral role in the Owensboro community for nearly three decades. The shelter has expanded drastically since its inception, housing more than 60 men on any given night in six locations, with upwards of 17 employees and several hundred volunteers. 

St. Benedict’s traces its humble beginnings back to 2005 when three parishioners at St. Joe and Paul discovered a gentleman sleeping in the stairwell. They inquired about a vacant St. Vincent De Paul building on West 7th Street; the rest is history. 

“At that point, we started housing men from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. November through March,” said executive director Harry Pedigo. “We would quickly house 30 men a night, and by 2011 we extended our operations to the remaining months of the year and opened at 6 p.m. In 2012, we increased our capacity to 45 men per night.”

The first seven years relied solely on volunteers, hiring the first director in 2012. By 2014, they increased their capacity to 60 and employed three additional staff members. One year later, they opened the Good Samaritan Home, a transitional option for the chronically homeless. 

In 2016, an addition of four staff members was necessary to secure the building and provide case management services. In 2017, they opened the Foundation Home, a second transitional home, with no intentions of slowing down. 

“In 2018, we opened the Honor Home, a transitional home for veterans, and in 2019 we entered into a white flag agreement with the city and county government to become a white flag emergency shelter during the winter months to house overflows from other shelters,” Pedigo said. 

The nonprofit also hired its first social worker in 2019 and extended their hours to 24-7 in 2020. That same year, they opened the Women and Families Day Shelter before acquiring the St. Gerrard Life Home for maternal ladies and expectant mothers the following year. 

Pedigo said the shelter exists to provide a nonjudgemental shelter and social support services within a Christian atmosphere. 

“All of our growth and success has come from the community,” he said. “The community makes up 85% of our operational budget.”

The nonprofit offers targeted case management for individuals battling substance abuse, mental illness, and emotional disorders. They also offer standard case management, laundry facilities, drug and alcohol assessments, rehousing, shower facilities, bible studies, technology center, life skills, advocacy, education and employment services, housing assistance, outreach, crisis intervention, WiFi, and homeless prevention plans, all in a drug-free environment. 

“The community’s support is our success,” Pedigo said. “Without the community, these men and women wouldn’t have a fighting chance, and because of the community, we have a facility, resources, and staff equipped to help them overcome their struggles.”

By John Kirkpatrick The Owensboro Times