Courtney & her fiancé Damion sat down to share with us a little bit about themselves, their son Damion & how The Open Shelter helps them. We have to let you know that Damion Sr. was a little camera shy.
Courtney: “We moved to Columbus from Pennsylvania in search of better jobs. We had nowhere to go. Someone told us about The Open Shelter giving away tents and helping us while we were outside. Between our credit and everything else, we have had trouble finding housing. We ended up in Columbus in October of 2016. We were living outside for two days before we got a tent from The Open Shelter. We are currently living in the Van Buren Family Shelter.”
Damion: “In all, we have lived outside for two months since coming to Columbus. We have been staying inside more than out. We have been living in hotels. We usually will get a job and stay in a hotel till we can get a place. I mainly do warehouse work.”
Courtney: “I do cashier and warehouse work. Trying to get back to work has been a quandary because when I apply for work they see my baby and it’s like “Ohhhhhhh”. Our son, Damion, is almost four months old. The Open Shelter has helped us with providing an address for our mail. Clothes and everything we need to survive outside. Helping with bus passes when we need it.”
Damion: “The Open Shelter has helped with job connections. They have the bulletin board with job postings. Food…you come here and you are always guaranteed to eat.”
Courtney: “Even if the hot food is gone you can get a sack lunch.”
Courtney & Damion are looking to get married but unfortunately they have had issues with his birth certificate.
Damion: “During a stay in a shelter, some guy stole my pants. Not just my wallet….the whole pair of pants, with my wallet, with my money, with everything! I was like just take the money! Now I have to order everything, including another birth certificate from Pennsylvania.”
Courtney: “Every time we are so close. I am like ‘let’s go do this, we have time!’ Then there’s no birth certificate. We weren’t born in Columbus, so we have to order a birth certificate from another state and that takes time.”
All three, Courtney, Damion and their son Damion Jr. have built up a special relationship with staff members Sheli Mathias & Solomon Dean.
Courtney: “It’s a lot easier having someone you can talk to about anything. Especially with the baby, because Sheli loves the baby. (Laughing) I have to get a break from him when he’s upset. It’s nice to have people who will help you.”
Damion: “Usually when we are in a tent, we are working. So it is only for a little bit. One of the struggles is being able to take a shower. What you would normally do every day, you have to hold off for a few days.”
Courtney: “Even when we are in a tent, we are constantly having a job so the only time we go back outside is to sleep. If you have a daytime job, you can’t shower.”
Fortunately, Courtney & Damion’s young son has not had to be outside.
Damion: “Since I lost my job, it’s not that complicated getting employment. The real problem has been transportation. You will buy a bus pass for a week, then they will tell you to work the next week. Then you have to buy another week’s pass. That is what has really damaged me on keeping employment. Most of the warehouses are not in Columbus. They are out west or down south outside the city.”
We asked Courtney & Damion what are their hopes for the future.
Damion: “Housing in a decent area. The last place we were at was for three months. In that three months, four people died there. Two of which we bared witness. We really did not want our baby around that.”
What would you say to someone who is thinking about supporting The Open Shelter?
Courtney: “There are so many people that come to The Open Shelter. There are people that may be gone for a few months, then they will be back. It would be great to have more clothes and other stuff to help us. Before we left our place, The Open Shelter gave us many options of places to help with paying our rent. They help with so many resources here. It’s unbelievable.”
Damion: “There are a lot more people like Courtney and I then you see. I definitely believe The Open Shelter needs support. I have had more progress working with The Open Shelter than I have had any other place.”
It is because of YOUR Support that we are able to help those we serve like young families such as Courtney, Damion & Damion Jr.
Please donate today to continue that support. Thank You.