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A Note of Gratitude and Personal Reflection from the Director…

$16,000 raised through Empty Bowls of Owensboro for the Daniel Pitino Shelter!

“Oh, my word!!!”

Those were the actual words out of my mouth when I saw the check for the first time at the Empty Bowls check presentation this morning at the Shelter. Not glamorous, but genuine. How incredible! It was such a beautiful, bright, sunny fall afternoon and yet the warmth I felt came from within. Our community made this happen!

Today’s check presentation comes on the heels of a donation made by an Owensboro High School student just last night. He personally brought a $50 donation to the Shelter and I just happened to be at the door to receive it. When I think of all the similar donations it took to create the $16,000 we received from Empty Bowls of Owensboro, it is simply overwhelming.

And then comes the question that never fails to lodge a lump in my throat…

“What does this mean [to the shelter]?”

You’d think this would be an easy one to answer, but I think I will always struggle with finding the words. Why, you might ask?

My mind fills up with all the individuals, families, and agencies we want to thank in the community, and for Empty Bowls of Owensboro for coordinating it all! I think about the gratitude I feel for our dedicated board and staff who have served the shelter through supporting and furthering its mission behind the scenes. I think about all the wonderful things we can do to further our mission and the many ways this is going to benefit all those we serve, many of whom I have personally had the privilege of spending time with and hearing their stories. I think of the preschooler whose birthday wish was to have a home of her own. I think of the teenager who struggled with bullies and the stigma of living in a homeless shelter. I think of the working mother of three children receiving support from four different public assistance programs just to make ends meet. I think of the single father on disability whose only dream in life is to make his son’s life better than his. I think of the families who receive monthly food boxes from our food pantry to make sure their children have healthy and wholesome meals on their table. I think of the look on our clients’ faces the day they get the keys to their new home. I think of the many lives we have yet to reach and all the work we still have to do.

These are just a few of the people and stories that run through my mind when I’m asked what this means to us, but there are so many more. The gratitude rushes in and I’m so deeply humbled by the depth of support from our community that I am at a loss for words. This happens every time. EVERY TIME.

No matter how many times we receive a donation, whether it’s $10 or $100,000, my joy bubbles over when I think of all the ways this enables us to assist our shelter guests and those in need in our community. This could be in the form of a pair of socks or a safe bed each night until they can stand on their own. It could be a warm blanket, a tray of food, or start-up items to move out of homelessness and into their new home. It could be a food box with at least two weeks’ worth of food for their entire family. I could go on and on and on.

So, what does this mean to us? It means being able to continue to feed more than 1,100 people a month through daily meals, food pantry boxes, and providing food in the shelter and the community. WOW.

But it also means being able to replace 40+ year-old worn out electrical boxes and breaker panels so our shelter, including our kitchen, continues to run smoothly for our shelter guests and the community. It means being able to add side-by-side refrigerators so we can store more food for our monthly food pantry, in addition to fresh fruit and milk for our shelter guests and the community. Many times we do not think of items like these as a way to continue to feed those most in need, but it takes a working building to do the work.

Although I may never find the words to adequately describe what it means to receive our community’s support in serving those in our community, I hope this little glimpse helps you see how you influence our work, our board and staff, and most especially our shelter guests and clients.

And even though words will never be adequate, we want to say thank you to our community from the bottom of our hearts. You inspire us. Thank you for being partners in the work we do.

Michele Johnston, Executive Director
Daniel Pitino Shelter
October 20, 2021