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NKY Physician Organizes Donation Drive to Assist Covington Cold Shelter

It started as a small slip-up, when Dr. Patrick Burns, a family medicine practitioner with St. Elizabeth Physicians’ Covington office, forgot Giving Tuesday last December.

“My wife and I wanted to participate in the global day of giving, but we were a few days late,” he said. “We had a belated celebration and drove around to organizations in Northern Kentucky to make our annual donations. We called it Giving Thursday.”

Giving Thursday led Burns to the Emergency Shelter of Northern Kentucky, an organization that assists individuals in their recovery from homelessness.  “I was familiar with the shelter from my involvement in Leadership Northern Kentucky,” said Burns. “It wasn’t until I met the staff and clients that I understood the life-changing services they provide.” 

Burns started making monetary donations and thinking about how he could make a bigger difference. He saw adults with jobs struggle with homelessness and providing basic needs for their families. It became apparent that the Emergency Shelter was not just a swinging door but a full-service support system, providing a place to sleep and shower and gain access to resources to obtain more permanent housing.

“Housing is the first thing to go in a crisis,” said Kim Webb, Emergency Shelter executive director. “Nearly 40 percent of the people who visited our shelter between November and December last year reported having a job. When people walk in the door, they might not be the stereotypical homeless person. The fact is, a lot of people are just one paycheck away from being homeless.”

According to Webb, last winter the shelter hosted 477 men and women, and saw about 77 guests each night. This year – in a mild winter – they have already seen more than 400 individuals.

Burns was able to solicit the help of his colleagues in February to organize a material and donation drive to Give the Gift of Warmth. St. Elizabeth Physicians brought its offices and staff together and donated more than 40 boxes and bags of clothing, toiletries, scrubs and bedding to the shelter. The staff also donated $2,000.

“We are so appreciative of Dr. Burns and our partnership with St. Elizabeth Physicians,” said Webb. “It costs about $17 per person to provide one night of housing and services. The material and financial donations from St. Elizabeth Physicians allows us to serve our most vulnerable population.”

“I am so thankful that we had the chance to make a difference in the lives of others and our community,” said Burns. “Giving Thursday might be the start of something great.”

To learn more about the Emergency Shelter of Northern Kentucky visit www.emergencyshelternky.org.

Correction: An earlier version of this story suggested that the Emergency Shelter also houses children. It does not.

From St. Elizabeth Physicians/Photo: Dr. Patrick Burns, family medicine practitioner with St. Elizabeth Physicians’ Covington office with Kim Webb, executive director of the Emergency Shelter of Northern Kentucky (provided)