Our Mission Statement

The Open Shelter is an Advocacy Center & Day Services Shelter for homeless and marginally-housed people in Central Ohio. We provide crucial needs directly to those in crisis. Coordinated, supportive services are also provided, directly or by referral. By providing these tools, we help those who are the most vulnerable in our community.

Thoughts And Observations From The Frontline

The mission of The Open Shelter has always been to “Stay Behind With Those Left Behind”.  This statement has truly been tested as of late.  As the government made necessary decisions to keep Ohioans safe, resources for those we serve rapidly closed up.  We adjusted our schedule and routine based on the Governor’s orders, with the safety of all of our guests and staff our first priority.  One thing The Open Shelter has seen in its nearly 37 years of existence is in times like these, food becomes the main focus of people who are marginalized.  I remember Mary Beittel recalling a difficult time in her past when she was a single mom of four little ones.  She said her greatest fear was not being able to feed her children.  We are hearing the same concerns now.  People are scared of food resources closing and them being left behind.

One major adjustment we made was to allow 6 individuals in our building at one time.  In order to facilitate this, I stand outside with people, calling their names.  I have heard from our guests over and over again, “Thank God you’re open!” and “Are you going to close?”  Those we serve do not have the luxury of “staying home” or of going to the grocery store and loading up on food and supplies so they can stay home.  They have got to get out and find food.  For them the risk of contracting COVID-19 is small in comparison to going without food.  We have had lunch and dinner groups cancel because they could not find the necessary supplies.  Then, the “shelter in place” order came which forced additional groups to have to cancel.  Yet we have had families contact us asking if they could pack lunches from home and deliver them.  Fortunately at this point, we have had plenty of food to pass out which is good because our day services numbers are rising daily and we are seeing record numbers of new folks.

At this point, the bottom line is we feel incredibly necessary.  The food we are supplying is filling a critical need for many in Columbus.  As long as the need continues, we will do our best to stay open and provide. 

Thank YOU for making that possible,

Sheli Mathias

Chief Operating Officer

YOU can help us during this crucial time by donating HERE-
http://theopenshelter.org/donate/

Thank You to “Seeds Of Caring”!

Caring kids from all around Columbus participated in one of Seeds of Caring’s ongoing at home service experiences: Sack Lunches for Hungry and Homeless Neighbors. These kids discussed some of the extra hardships our hungry & homeless neighbors are facing in light of current events, then used their hearts, hands and minds to make a big difference. From their homes, they decorated sack lunches, made PBJ sandwiches and packed much needed meals for The Open Shelter (Columbus, Ohio). Together, they packed over 330 sack lunches!

Thank you to all the families who participated in this at home project, and shared photos of your experience. Together, we are making sure kindness continues to grow in Columbus!

If your family would like to be a part of this, or other at home service experiences, please register to participate here —> https://www.seedsofcaring.org/virtual-volunteer-projects

#InThisTogetherOhio #StayHomeOhio #KindisCool

Staying Open In Times Of Crisis

Yes! We are still open for those we serve while utilizing the “Best Business” Practices as set by Gov. DeWine & his administration. We are only allowing a few of those we serve in at one time, practicing social distancing and making sure our facility is clean.

WCMH did a profile of some of our practices to keep our facility safe and clean for those we serve.

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH)- As Ohio prepares for a community outbreak, many of Columbus’ nonprofits are working to help people who are experiencing homelessness or those who are low income.

Over at The Open Shelter, they have upped their sanitation with cleanings twice a day. They are also offering hand sanitizer as soon as people walk in. Not only do people not have access to places to wash their hands, making them more susceptible to the Coronavirus but Shell Mathias worries their immune systems won’t be able to stand up as well as others.“Their bodies are already tired, they are worn down and not getting the rest they should and perhaps not getting the nutrition they need,” said Mathias, who works at The Open Shelter.

You can help us & those we serve during this crucial period by donating HERE-  http://theopenshelter.org/donate/

Lunches Of Love

Thank you to Terri & 3, 4 & 5 year olds from Meadow Park Church of God for making and donating these “Lunches Of Love” that are decorated for St. Patrick’s Day!

We still have open dates if your group would like to help our Sack Lunch Program. We try to have enough to serve 175-200 individuals each weekday. Contact us at 614-222-2885 if you have any questions or would like to sign up for a date!

TAKE A “LEAP” FOR THE OPEN SHELTER AT HOOT!

This Saturday (2/29) at 10:00 AM, Gateway Film Center provides stimulating activities for families, including games, story readings, Dance Cam where kids and their families can watch themselves bust a move on the big screen and more. At 11:00 AM, enjoy live music by The Shazzbots! and kid-friendly short films. All presentations in the HOOT Family Film Series at the Gateway Film Center are “G” rated and admission to the series is free with a suggested donation of a canned good to benefit The Open Shelter.
This month’s theme is LEAP!
Gateway Film Center is located at 1550 North High Street, Columbus, Ohio 43201.


The Open Shelter Needs YOU To Make An Event VERY Special!

The Open Shelter will be holding it’s annual “Hope For The Homeless” Event on Saturday, April 18th from 3pm until 10pm at the Crazee Mule Pub & Grill (6188 Cleveland Ave. Columbus, Ohio  43231).  The event will have 5 LIVE BANDS– New Kitchen Electrics, Pentello, Green 13, One Notch & Alter-Ego– performing though out the day.  It will also feature food & drink specials on Crazee Mule’s delicious food & icy cold beverages.  There will also be a 50/50 raffle and a silent auction hopefully filled with wonderful items!
That is where YOU come in.  We are writing to see if you and/or your business, group, family, school or church would be willing to donate items for our silent auction.  

-Gift cards for area stores, restaurants and experiences.  (Everyone loves a good meal or a spa day!)
-Sports, movie & event tickets.  (Buckeyes, Blue Jackets Tickets would be ideal in raising funds!!!  Also concerts or plays!!)

-Certificates for hotel stays.  (A nice, quiet weekend at a comfy hotel is always on someone’s list.)
-Gift certificates for theme parks or zoos.  (Who doesn’t love summer fun at the Columbus Zoo or Kings Island?)
-Autographed memorabilia from celebrities or sports stars.  (Who wouldn’t love an autographed football from a Buckeyes Legend or a signed stick from a Blue Jackets fan favorite?)
-Gift certificates for activities like kayaking, skiing or even, yikes, bungee jumping.

The possibilities are limitless.  Gift Baskets are also VERY APPEALING when it comes to Silent Auctions.  If you, your business, family, group, school or church would like to put a gift basket or two together for our event, we would greatly appreciate it.
All of this is to continue our mission of “Staying Behind With Those Left Behind”.  Since 1983, The Open Shelter has been able to help the most vulnerable in our community; homeless and marginally housed men, women and children.  This is possible only because of YOUR SUPPORT.  Feel free to contact Harry Yeprem Jr. at 614-222-2885 / 614-562-2169 or via return email if you have any questions or if you would like to help with our event.  

Thank You.

It Will Be A “Purrfect” Time At HOOT!

This Saturday (1/25) at 10:00 AM, Gateway Film Center provides stimulating activities for families, including games, story readings, Dance Cam where kids and their families can watch themselves bust a move on the big screen and more. At 11:00 AM, enjoy live music by The Shazzbots! and kid-friendly short films. All presentations in the HOOT Family Film Series at the Gateway Film Center are “G” rated and admission to the series is free with a suggested donation of a canned good to benefit The Open Shelter.
This month’s theme is CATS!
Gateway Film Center is located at 1550 North High Street, Columbus, Ohio 43201.


Rest In Peace Bill Casto

On Friday, January 3rd we got the terrible news that Bill Casto had died from severe brain trauma resulting from a fall the night before.  The news was devastating to all of us at The Open Shelter as it was to a multitude of people in Columbus, for Bill Casto was one of the most significant warriors in the last 40 years in fighting and serving on behalf of marginal people in our community. 

Bill had long been associated with The Open Shelter and for many years as a member of our Board, most recently as our Board Chairman.  He was, as Bishop Joseph Sprague said in his sermon at Bill’s celebration of live, a model of fundamental goodness.  He touched the lives of all he met with his kindness and goodness.

Even in death, Bill continues to support The Open Shelter in it’s work with homeless and marginally housed persons in our community by suggesting in lieu of flowers, people can give to The Kent and Mary Beittel Endowment Fund For The Open Shelter via The Columbus Foundation, 1234 E. Broad St., Columbus OH  43205.

Bill will be sorely missed by all of us but his contribution to those in need and those of us who support efforts to make a difference among them will last forever.

Inline image

Ho Ho Hope For The Holidays 2019 Was A Success!

This Holiday Season we were once again blessed to hold “Ho Ho Hope For The Holidays”! Nearly 300 homeless and marginally housed men, women and children were treated to a wonderful meal, gift bags, toys and Santa!

Thank you to St. Andrews Church, Broad Street United Methodist Church, volunteers from CMHA & Nationwide, Veronica Garrity, Samantha Babcock & friends, Santa Richard Knapp, Allie’s Original Photography, Boy Scout Troop 298, St. Agatha Church, Shiseido, Stone Village Church, Dave & Melynda Snider and so many, many more! We could not do this without YOU!!!