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Outpouring of donations saves Holy Ground from eviction

HUDSON — An unemployed woman gave $5. Another woman sold her belongings at a yard sale and donated the $200 profit. Churches pitched in, too.

As word spread that Holy Ground Homeless Shelter was facing eviction, scores of people dropped by the county's only all-inclusive homeless shelter to give whatever they could to keep the doors open.

By Monday, their generosity saved the day.

Not only did shelter founder Lisa Barabas-Henry raise the $7,900 needed to halt the eviction, but she said she'll even have enough money to pay July's rent of $2,300.

"I feel so overwhelmed," Barabas-Henry said on Monday, sitting inside the shelter's thrift store. "The love I've felt from people is priceless."

Shelter residents like Lance Reilly, 28, said they were relieved to hear the facility would remain open.

"I feel like Lisa has taken every effort to help people," said Reilly, who has been at the shelter off and on for a few years. "To stay open a little longer is God's plan."

The shelter opened in 1992. It helps provide food and lodging to families in need, in addition to church services and drug and alcohol treatment.

Over the years, the shelter at U.S. 19 and Denton Avenue has been self-sufficient. But the sour economy caused donations to plummet in the past year, resulting in fewer donations and fewer people buying things at the shelter's thrift store.

Meanwhile, as more people lost jobs and were forced out of their homes, more people came to the shelter for help.

Holy Ground serves about 60 people.

Eventually, Barabas-Henry got behind on the rent and utilities for April, May and June. When she got home Thursday from a nine-day hospital stay for various health problems and received the eviction notice, she asked God to help her come up with the money.

By Friday afternoon, word started getting around that Holy Ground might close. Checks started pouring in.

Briana Newman, 28, sat in the thrift store Monday as her 4-year-old son played nearby. Newman, who had been in jail and is battling a drug addiction, said she isn't sure where she and her son would have gone if the shelter closed. "Everybody is taking a huge sigh of relief that the community pulled together for us," she said. "I'm grateful."

And the donations have kept on coming. A man stopped by the thrift store Monday afternoon and handed Barabas-Henry a crisp $20 bill.

"Aww," Barabas-Henry said. "God bless you."

Camille C. Spencer can be reached at cspencer@sptimes.com or (813) 909-4609.

Outpouring of donations saves Holy Ground from eviction 06/08/09 [Last modified: Monday, June 8, 2009 9:03pm]
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