Holy Ground… it all started in 2008 when the then-pastor of St. Ann’s Catholic Church, Fr. Seamus Murtagh, was moved to act further on behalf of the ever-growing number of homeless persons he met while on his morning walks.
St. Ann, located in the heart of West Palm Beach, was already serving the homeless community in many ways – providing food, clothing, a facility for showers and doing laundry, as well as assisting with transportation and attending to medical needs.
And yet, Fr. Murtagh could see that much more was needed… that people were falling through the cracks… people were still suffering… and so he reached out to the community and organized a gathering to take a deeper look at the issue of homelessness, especially the need for shelter, and what else could be done.
From this gathering, a small group of volunteers formed and started meeting on a regular basis to consider how they, personally, could help. After obtaining 501(c)(3) status, Holy Ground Shelter for Homeless, Inc. (now Holy Ground PBC) started the real work … focusing on how to make a lasting difference.
After much discernment, Holy Ground chose to focus its efforts on young pregnant or parenting women and their babies, as they were among the most under-served homeless population in our area. The limited beds available in Palm Beach County that serve young, homeless moms consistently have long waiting lists, resulting in many of these young women having to be placed in other parts of the state or even out of state… and in some cases, sadly, receiving no shelter or services at all.
To view statistics related to teen pregnancy, click here.
Holy Ground’s Program
Holy Ground Shelter for Homeless, Inc. (DBA Holy Ground PBC) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit established in 2009. Our mission is to shelter and mentor homeless, pregnant or parenting young women and their children living in Palm Beach County, who are willing to make positive changes in their lives. In addition to providing modest, furnished apartments, Holy Ground is committed to assisting clients in accessing prenatal and postnatal healthcare services, food, clothing, baby equipment, education/job training, and parenting and independent living skills. A pregnant teen/young woman may be admitted to our program at any time during her pregnancy. Upon admission, each client will be matched with one or more adult female mentors to accompany and guide her on her journey from adolescence to adulthood and motherhood. Holy Ground is an independent faith-based, nonprofit organization that is committed to protecting, nurturing, and improving the lives of both mother and child. To learn more about our program, click here for our brochure.
Note: Unfortunately, Holy Ground cannot provide services to anyone with substance abuse or mental health issues.
Holy Ground commits to making a long-term individual investment in each client so that she may move towards independent living, economic sustainability, a stable family situation and lasting generational change. Our goal is to assist our Palm Beach County clients and their families in breaking the cycle of homelessness, poverty and teen pregnancy.
Shelter – Using an independent living model to provide a real-world experience, we offer safe, modestly furnished apartments that allow for convenient travel to school, workplaces, and daycare. Our clients contribute toward their rent and utilities as they are able, on an increasing scale as they progress toward independent living.
Mentoring – Each mom is matched with a trained, adult female mentor who provides the emotional support and guidance to empower the young mom to progress personally and socially. Mentors are also invaluable in monitoring the well-being and needs of both mothers and children.
Capacity-Building – Building the capabilities of our young mothers translates to a more positive outcome for themselves and their children. Our monthly Life Skills Series helps fill in the gaps in basic knowledge that result from these young mothers’ often unstable backgrounds. Our moms also receive individualized academic and vocational guidance. Financial assistance toward achieving academic or vocational goals is available through our Fr. Arthur Obin OMI Scholarship Fund. The children in our program can take advantage of summer and after-school tutoring at our on-site facility, The Learning Tree.
Trauma-Informed Counseling – All mothers and children receive professional, individual, trauma-informed counseling, as well as group counseling, as they strive to heal from past traumas, to develop self-esteem and to learn healthy behaviors that they can model for their children.
Cultural Enrichment – The moms in our program have attended concerts, plays, dances and other performances through our Cultural Enrichment program. For many of them, it was the first time they had ever attended a professional theatrical performance.
Essential Resources – Holy Ground assists not just the mothers in our program, but also vulnerable mothers in the larger community, on a limited basis, to locate and access necessary resources, social services, food, clothing, baby supplies, etc.
In return, while in our program, our young mothers must adhere to a signed contract, which covers a wide range of expectations and goals; continue their education; seek part-time employment; and provide a portion of their total income toward payment of their rent and utilities.
Holy Ground is a member of the Homeless and Housing Alliance of Palm Beach County.
We are proud to work with the following agencies to provide the best possible services to our clients:
- Early Learning Coalition
- Center for Child Counseling
- DePorres Place Adult Literacy Center
- Family Promise North
- Healthy Mothers/Healthy Babies
- Cotton Bottom Diaper Bank
- CareerSource Palm Beach County
- Dress for Success
- St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church
- St. Patrick Catholic Church
- Community Partners of South Florida
- City House Delray