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.

Thank You Patrick, Aggie, Maggie, Don & Seeds Of Caring!

We and those we serve are so proud and thankful for the wonderful efforts of the Barrington Family— Patrick, his sister Aggie and parents Maggie & Don and the Seeds Of Caring families in providing sack lunches for the most vulnerable in our community during the pandemic.

Through their efforts over 10,000 sack lunches filled with a sandwich, fruit, chips, a bottle of water and a personal note have been provided. But it is much more than that. Find out how much more thanks to this profile of their efforts from 10TV and Bryant Somerville.

Thank YOU For Giving BIG For The Open Shelter!

Dear Friend(s):

We asked and you delivered!  We asked you to give BIG for The Open Shelter & those we serve during The BIG Give….and YOU DID!  Nearly $20,000 was raised during The BIG Give thanks to YOUR support and the bonus pool provided by The Columbus Foundation & it’s partners.

We and those we serve are overwhelmed and grateful for your generosity during these trying times.  Because of this support, we are able to continue our mission of “Staying Behind With Those Left Behind”.  Because of your support, we are able to stay OPEN.  Because of your support, we are able to continue providing crucial needs and services for the most vulnerable in our community — homeless and marginally housed men, women and children.  Since 1983, The Open Shelter has been there because of your support.  We are truly a grassroots agency….everything we do for those we serve is because of your support.  Thank you for making that possible.

Give BIG For The Open Shelter Until 6pm On Thursday 6/11!

Dear Friend(s):

As you definitely know, we are going through some unprecedented times currently.  Things have never been more uncertain or unclear than they are now. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our lives in so many ways.  Imagine on top of that being uncertain or unclear where your next meal, next pair of socks or even your next trip to the restroom will be.  The Open Shelter exists to make sure the most vulnerable in our community; homeless and marginally housed men, women and children, have a place to turn to during this uncertain time.  The Open Shelter exists because YOU have decided to continue our mission of “Staying Behind With Those Left Behind”.  

NOW more than ever, YOU have an opportunity to support that mission in a BIG way during The BIG Give thanks to our partners at The Columbus Foundation.  Starting on Wednesday, June 10th at 10 am through Thursday, June 11th at 6 pm, your donation to The Open Shelter at https://columbusfoundation.org/the-giving-store/nonprofit-directory-listing/OpenShelterInc/458 will be boosted, thanks to a $1 million+ Bonus Pool provided by The Columbus Foundation and corporate and community partners! Further, all credit card fees will be covered by the Foundation, so 100 percent of your donations go to our mission of “Staying Behind With Those Left Behind”.  We hope you will join us in this extraordinary opportunity to rally together because we are truly better, together.

Give securely using Apple Pay, Google Pay, PayPal, or a major U.S. credit card with a minimum gift of $20. All credit card fees are covered during The BIG Give, and each gift will be boosted on a pro rata basis thanks to a $1 MILLION+ BONUS POOL.  Donate $20 or more and share your experience with #biggive on social media! Be sure to tag The Columbus Foundation and The Open Shelter.You can also Text2Connect to support The Open Shelter during The BIG Give!  Text 458 to (614) 230-0347 & Text2Connect will send you a link to complete The BIG Give transaction to support us and those we serve.

The Open Shelter is a grassroots agency.  Anything we provide for the most vulnerable in our community is because of YOUR support.  YOU are the reason we exist.  Please take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to amplify YOUR support and make it BIG.  Thank You.

Good News From The Open Shelter!

#GivingTuesdayNOW Was A Success!!
We asked…and you answered the call!
Because of YOU, nearly $3500 was raised on #GivingTuesdayNOW for The Open Shelter and those we serve.
We are grateful & blessed because of your support.

Thank YOU For Making Mother’s Day A Reality!

It wasn’t as fancy as in past years…but thanks to your donations, we were still able to put smiles on the faces of mom’s we serve (and their children!). We thank you!

YOUR Donations make this possible!  
YOU can continue our mission of “Staying Behind With Those Left Behind” by donating HERE- http://theopenshelter.org/donate/

61 E. Mound St.
Columbus OH  43215-5121

The Open Shelter Needs Your Help For #GivingTuesdayNOW

The Open Shelter is honored to be a part of #GivingTuesdayNOW, a global day of giving and unity.  As you know, we are living in uncertain times.  The pandemic which currently grips our nation and world has changed our day-to-day routine.  Things such as meeting with friends and family have been put on pause for the time being. 

But thanks to YOU and YOUR Support, we are still OPEN and able to “Stay Behind With Those Left Behind.”  We have reduced hours and are practicing social distancing (such as only allowing six individuals in at a time) to help “flatten the curve” but are still seeing the same amount and in many cases, more men, women and children than before the pandemic hit.

During the first four months of 2020, The Open Shelter has helped 1,510 men, women and children with food, clothing and hygiene items needed to survive.  17,816 sack lunches have been given out, 6,323 ‘to-go’ meals have been distributed in addition to 2,407 instances of clothing assistance and 336 hygiene kits passed out.  Even with COVID-19 and our main focus being on basic needs for those we serve, we have been able to assist 60 payees with money management. 

It is because of YOU that Amanda is able to get food for herself and her children to last through the week.  It is because of YOU that we are able to help Mark get off the streets and into housing.  It is because of YOU that we are able to help Kelly with clothing and hygiene items to stay clean and healthy, especially NOW.  The Open Shelter receives no government funding of any sort.  We are truly “grassroots” and exist solely because of YOU.

In order for The Open Shelter to “Stay Behind With Those Left Behind”, we still need your support.  #GivingTuesdayNOW is a perfect opportunity to show that you still support our mission of helping the most vulnerable in our community — homeless and marginally housed men, women and children especially during this crucial time.  Please DONATE today at this link–  http://theopenshelter.org/donate/
For nearly 37 years, The Open Shelter has been there for those who have found nowhere to turn.  Please keep that HOPE & HELP alive.  Thank You.

61 E. Mound St.
Columbus OH  43215-5121


Dear Friend(s) ,
In this time of uncertainty, there’s a fundamental truth that gives us hope – that together we can do extraordinary things. Over the past few weeks and months, the entire world has been coming together to stand up, help out, give back, and heal. Whether that’s through donations to community organizations, celebrating doctors and nurses at shift changes, or reaching out to a neighbor to help with groceries, generosity has been helping the entire world get through this global pandemic. Together.

On May 5, 2020, The Open Shelter is participating in #GivingTuesdayNow, a global day of unity and giving. As you know, our organization will continue to “Stay Behind With Those Left Behind” even during these crucial times. Providing food, clothing, hygiene items and even money management for the most vulnerable during this pandemic.
But we can’t do this without you!

Not only do we need your support, we need your help to spread the word. Please tell your friends and family why you believe in our work and encourage them to support us too!

Join the movement on May 5, 2020! Bookmark our donate link today: http://theopenshelter.org/donate/ and follow The Open Shelter on facebook and twitter to see how you can help during the #GivingTuesdayNow movement.

Thank you for being a part of our mission to help the homeless and marginally housed in Central Ohio.
Hope you are healthy and safe.

Thoughts & Observations From The Frontline, Part II

As I mentioned in a previous post, the guests at The Open Shelter have reacted well to our new procedures as a result of COVID-19.  Our supporters, old and new, have also reacted well.  We have received support, financially and materially, from so many individuals and groups that frankly, it has been overwhelming.  We are committed to providing meals, almost always hot, to anyone who shows up.  This requires supplies we do not usually have or need, such as Styrofoam to-go containers, Styrofoam bowls with lids, pre-wrapped plastic ware and lots of bottled water. 

Initially, we purchased large quantities of these items as we see on average 150 men, women and children each day.  Then some amazing organizations reached out, asking about our needs and these items began showing up at our agency.  Filling this need for us directly fills the needs of the guests we see each day.

When those we serve show up and receive a hot meal to go and a sack lunch, they know that people see them, hear them and care about them.  During a time when they cannot find a place to be warm, a place to use a computer or phone, or even a place to use the bathroom; the act of showing up and providing warm food does more good than we can really understand.  It is our honor, as always, to stay behind with those left behind.

You can help keep our mission alive during this crucial time by donating HERE-

Thank You,

Sheli Mathias
Chief Operating Officer 

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-

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/