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 —>

#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-

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!