Thank YOU For Giving BIG For The Open Shelter!

We Would Like To Thank YOU!
Because Of YOUR Donations & Bonus Pool Funds To The BIG Give, Over $31,000 Was Raised For The Open Shelter & Those We Serve, The Homeless & Marginally Housed!
Thank You To The Columbus Foundation For Allowing Us To Be A Part Of It!!!

It Is Truly A Blessing!!!  We Are Overwhelmed By Your Generosity & Outpouring of Support.
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61 E. Mound St.
Columbus OH  43215-5121
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Trick-Or-Treat At Halloween HOOT!

On the final Saturday of each month 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 (10/28) is HALLOWEEN HOOT!
Beginning at 10 a.m., the HOOT theater is decorated for the holiday, costumes are encouraged, and kids can trick-or-treat at the entrance to the auditorium.

Gateway Film Center is located at 1550 North High Street, Columbus, Ohio 43201.

Change And Sameness

In any not-for-profit agency, the executive leadership has two primary obligations.  The first is to ensure that the work being done reflects the agency’s mission effectively.  The second obligation is to ensure that the essential aspects of the mission continue to be possible.


Most of the time this second obligation takes the form of adequate fund-raising, administrative functionalism and appropriate staffing and delegation of duties.  However, there is an aspect of the obligation which doesn’t come up often: How does the agency move forward when the current leadership is no longer in a position to continue in that role?


It is time to address that question with you.


For over three decades, my wife & I have loved and guided The Open Shelter through tumultuous times & transitions.  We have believed that our primary obligation has been to stay behind with those who feel left behind.  We have struggled to be an ally for those who are alone on our streets.  We have tried, by example, to show our most vulnerable neighbors that they are loved, respected and cared about – equally to all others.  We have tried to demonstrate God’s presence, responding to their needs.

I am almost 70 years old and, this August, my wife was freed from and concluded her two year struggle with brain cancer.  While we continue to love and believe in the role of The Open Shelter, we are no longer in a position to continue in our executive leadership role.


While Mary’s battle with cancer intensified the transitioning process, she and I had been preparing for the need for a transition for almost five years.  We began by recognizing that there were three possible ways to conclude our leadership role: 1) Admit that The Open Shelter was no longer necessary and prepare to close while trying to redirect the incredible impact and offerings of so many meal groups, volunteers and material assistance efforts.  2) Find an agency which is similar to The Open Shelter and negotiate a merger, transferring the volunteer involvement to that place and stipulating that Solomon Dean & Harry Yeprem are offered positions out of respect of their twenty years each of exceptional service on behalf of homeless & marginally housed persons.  3) Find a way to survive because The Open Shelter is genuinely unique & serves an essential role in the continuum of care on the streets of Columbus.


We talked to other service providers, board members, volunteers and guests.  All of the feedback was that we have an important and unique role in this community’s continuum of care and need to preserve the style and commitment of our pastoral care emphasis and alliances-for-the-long-haul.


Having received the message that The Open Shelter needed to survive, we started to seek the people who would carry the agency into the future, providing both CHANGE & SAMENESS.


Just as we believe that God brought us to The Open Shelter, we also believe that Sheli Mathias was sent to us.  She brings a faith, a spirit and an appreciation for the attitude and efforts of The Open Shelter which we believe can carry our work into the future.
I am not going away.  But I am shifting more of the daily management of The Open Shelter to Sheli, who brings her unique gifts as offerings to our most vulnerable neighbors and can defend CHANGE & SAMENESS on this covered piece of the sidewalk.


With Undying Thanks,



Kent R. Beittel, Half of The Executive Team

Kenneth Shares His Story Of “Help & Hope” From The Open Shelter

Kenneth has been a guest of ours for many years.  He is one of nearly 50 guests we assist through our Payeeship Program.  Kenneth sat down with us to talk about how The Open Shelter has helped him.

“I grew up in a foster home.  I was one of seven children.  There was a little bit of abuse.  It was trying at times.  There were people living with us that sexually abused us.  I didn’t get along with my mom and dad that well.  I spent a lot of time by myself.”

“My father was a Deputy Sheriff and my mom was a stay-at-home mother.  We lived in a middle class neighborhood on the south side of Columbus.  We were all foster children.  I didn’t meet my real mother until I was 16.”

“I left my foster home to live with my real mother when I was 17.   She had some disabilities and was going through some mental health issues.  She was in a nursing home for most of the time I knew her.  She did live with my brother for a time, so I went to live with them.”

“When I was 18, I was accused of robbery.  I went to jail for a little over six months.  I was released into my foster father’s custody, so I went back with him.   It was found out that I didn’t do it, so they dismissed all the charges.”

“I eventually joined the Army.  I spent three and a half years in the service.  It was a learning experience.  I completed Basic Training and got a $2500 bonus.  I got in a lot of scrapes.  I got in a lot of trouble.  They took my bonus back and kicked me out six months early.  I got a DUI while I was with the Army.”

“I was stationed in Alabama and in Germany during my time in the Army.  Germany was a beautiful place.  It was really beautiful.  If I had known then what I know now, it would have been a lot better for me.  I went nightclubbing most of the time.” 

“I went back to live with my foster dad when I left the Army.  I found a couple of jobs, but didn’t keep any of them for more than six months.  I worked at General Motors, worked as a security guard.”

“I found myself homeless in 1985.  I was renting a house from a lady.  I wasn’t able to pay the bills after a period of time.  I eventually ended up at Friends of The Homeless.  I had an experience there where I got to enjoy Christmas for the very first time.  Even though I had got gifts as a child, it was there where I got to realize how beautiful Christmas really was.”

“I was at Friends of The Homeless for about three months.  I got into an altercation with someone.  They put me out.  I ended up on the streets of Downtown Columbus, living in empty buildings.  I would grab a bag from White Castle and go to restaurants & bars grabbing all the free popcorn and peanuts I could.  I would eat that.  Burger King used to be Downtown.  They would throw out food.  I would eat out of their garbage.  I would get jumped on a regular basis.  I got my ribs broke, head punched and had to sleep outside.”

“I eventually found out about The Open Shelter.  That was probably around 1987.  I got a mat at The Open Shelter.  I probably stayed there for about six months.  It really was an experience.  The churches that came by and fed, donated clothing.  I was indulging in drugs back then.  So it was off and on if I missed my bed call.”

“I have battles with drugs & alcohol.  I was using on a daily basis.  I was living in laundry rooms & empty buildings.  I was using crack cocaine & alcohol.  I have had treatment on a number of occasions.  Currently, I am going through a process.  I have been clean and sober for about six months.  I am going to two groups a week.  I am also get a shot for paranoid schizophrenia.”

“The Open Shelter has been my payee off and on for at least 15-16 years.  I have been housed currently for about nine months.  The Open Shelter has helped me maintain my living status by being my payee on a number of occasions because of my drug abuse.  It would have been impossible for me to maintain my housing.  Clean clothes, food, paying my rent, paying my utilities.  I was able to do the necessary things I needed to do because you were my payee.”

“My most recent struggle is on a daily basis.  It’s a process.  There are occasions where I think it would be nice to have a drink.  But if I have a couple of drinks, my guard goes down.  I go right back to the crack.  They work hand in hand.  I can’t do either one.”

“I really appreciate the fact The Open Shelter was there for me.  I was homeless, dirty, nothing to eat, nowhere to go.  They were there to help feed me, give me clothes and just be there for me.  It was a difficult time for me.  It means a lot to me.  I can still come get meals.  If it wasn’t for them, who knows what may have happened to me?”

YOUR support provides “Help & Hope” to guests like Kenneth.
Please donate to keep that “Help & Hope” alive.

Meet Sheli Mathias; Executive Assistant To The Director

I have been on the journey of a lifetime.  Never did I think I would be spending my days working with the homeless and marginally housed population of Columbus.

My journey into adulthood started when I graduated from Capital University in 1990 with a bachelor’s degree in Education.  I started a teaching career in Reynoldsburg and earned a Master’s degree in Guidance and Counseling from the University of Dayton in 1997.  I then met my husband and soon started a family.  I was home with our three kids for about 12 years.

The church my family attends, Peace United Methodist Church, participates in The Open Shelter’s dinner program.  I volunteered to serve a meal and was introduced to Kent & Mary Beittel.  Mary invited me to come to the shelter and take a tour.  I was overwhelmed by all the small staff of the shelter was able to accomplish for this population of people while running on a budget comprised solely of private donations.  The faith in God this requires really appealed to me.

I was also impressed by the longevity of the careers with The Open Shelter of Solomon Dean, our Deputy Director of Day Services & Harry Yeprem, our Development Coordinator.  This is a rare thing in an industry where job turnover is rampant, so I knew The Open Shelter was a special place to be.

I started volunteering, then working part time coordinating donations that came in as well as working in the office with Mary on paperwork associated with the Payeeship Program.  I saw Mary work with the guests in a respectful, caring way.  She was very much focused on the fact that these were adults who needed to be loved as well as guided.  Her expectation was that they would be treated like and expected to act like adults.

Once I took on a full-time role in the agency, Kent worked slowly, teaching me not only the approach used at The Open Shelter but why they believed it was the right way to do it.

Though I was immersed in the work I always felt incredible support from Kent, Harry and Solomon.

As we transition to new leadership we have spent time revisiting our programs and their purpose and have found that what we have been doing is exactly what we believe should continue to be done.  So, though there will be change, there will be sameness.

I believe God has opened these doors for me and filled my heart with the desire to continue the work started by Kent & Mary over 34 years ago.

I hope each of you will continue this journey with us through your continued financial support.  We have been and will continue to be the place where your generosity comes to life.

Give BIG For The Open Shelter During The BIG Give!

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The Big Give is a 26-hour online giving rally to make a difference through kindness. The Columbus Foundation, its family of donors, and community and corporate partners have provided a $1.3 Million+ Bonus Pool. Donations received during the event will be amplified by Bonus Pool funds on a pro-rated basis. Everyone who gives will have their donation(s) increased. In addition, the Foundation is covering all credit card fees, so 100 percent of donations go to participating nonprofits with a Directory Listing in the Foundation’s Giving Store.

Beginning at 10:00 a.m. ET on Tuesday, October 10 through 12:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday, October 11, go to and give to The Open Shelter listed in The Giving Store. 

By giving BIG, you can help us help the homeless & marginally housed in our community.  This is also a great way to KEEP THE OPEN SHELTER OPEN during a time of transition & financial hardship.  It is also a blessed way to celebrate the legacy of Mary Beittel, our longtime Director & Advocate for the most vulnerable.

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You can also Text2Connect your donation for The Open Shelter during THE BIG GIVE.  

1) Just text 458 to 614-230-0347

2) Text2Connect will send you a link to complete your donation!

3) Easy Peasy!

THE OPEN SHELTER  61 E. Mound St.  
Columbus OH  43215-5121   614-222-2885
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