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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Enjoy A Barrrrrrrrgain at 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’s (9/30) theme is PIRATES.

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

Hope For The Homeless Fundraiser!

We had so much fun we are doing it again!
Join us at the Crazee Mule Pub & Grill (6188 Cleveland Ave., Columbus OH  43231) for a fun day of music from One Notch Down & Ancient Alien Theorists, food, drinks, prize drawings, silent auctions & raffles .
Proceeds will benefit The Open Shelter and those we serve.
It all happens Sunday, September 24th kicking off at 1pm with Former Buckeye & Co-Host of ABC 6’s “The Football Fever”, Matt Finkes!



(10) Columbus Square Bowling Palace passes for two free games of bowling. Retail Value $100.

(8) Columbus Zoo Complimentary Admission Passes from 98.9 The Answer.  Retail Value $120.

(5) Pairs of Columbus Blue Jackets Tickets (10/25 vs Buffalo, 11/28 vs Carolina, 12/31 vs Tampa, 1/12 vs Vancouver, 3/8 vs Colorado) from Jill Fetzer.  Retail Value $375.

(5) FanMugs (2 Cleveland Browns, 2 Ohio State Buckeyes & 1 Spielman Gridiron Classic autographed by Chris Spielman) from Doug Lessells.  Retail Value $85.

(4) Columbus Zoo Complimentary Admission Passes.  Retail Value $60.

(4) Hilliard Wall Systems Decorative Wall Plaques.  Retail Value $100.

(2) Lion’s Den Prize Packs (Each has an $100 gift card, bottle of “toy cleaner”, bottle of personal lubricant, edible massage candle & 3 bottles of flavored lubricant).  Retail Value $179 each.

(2) Shadowbox Live Ticket Packages (1 good for 8 free admissions to an evening performance & 1 good for 8 free admissions to a “Lunchbox” performance.)  Retail Value $320.

(2) Crystal Mountain Water Coolers.  Retail Value $700.

(2) Alex & Ani Bracelets from Meyer’s Jewelers (1 Stand Up Energy, 1 Compass) Retail $30 each.

(2) Gateway Film Center Guest Passes.  Retail Value $20.

(2)  $20 Schmidt’s Sausage Haus Gift Certificates.

(2) Rooster’s $10 Gift Certificates.

(2) CAPA Tickets for “A Christmas Carol” at The Ohio Theatre 11/26 at 7:30pm. Retail Value $64.

(2) Haunted Mountain (Chillicothe) Complimentary Tickets.  Retail Value $26.

(2) COSI Complimentary Admission Guest Passes.   Retail Value $40.

(1) Allie’s Originals Photography One Hour Family Session.  Retail Value $200.

(1) Cleveland Browns Autographed Wilson NFL Football (Emmanuel Ogbah #90).  Retail Value $100.

(1) Cleveland Cavaliers Gift Pack (Insignia Soft Bag, T-Shirt, Pen, Pencil, Hat, Squeeze Ball & Notepad).  Retail Value $55.

(1) Too’s & Three’s Gift Pack ($25 Gift Certificate & 2 T-Shirts) Retail Value $80.

(1) Chick-Fil-A Gift Bag (2 Small Souvenir Cows, Sunglasses, 3 Promo Cards for a free sandwich, 2 Promo Cards for a free kid’s meal, 2 Promo Cards for a free treat & 1 Promo Card for a free medium hot coffee).  Retail Value $40.

(1) Columbus Museum of Art Gift Pack (1 Complimentary Family Admission Pass, 1 T-Shirt, 1 CMOA Program, 1 CMOA Collection Pocket Guide, 1 Poster, 1 Notepad, 1 Pen, 1 Pair of Sunglasses, 3 Postcards & 4 Collectible Buttons).  Retail Value $80.

(1) Auto Smarts Radio Gift Pack (2 Free Coupons for a 12-Pack of any Pepsi Product, 2 Columbus Zoo Complimentary Admission Passes & $50 in Rooster’s Gift Certificates). $75 Retail Value.

(1) Lindey’s Restaurant German Village $50 Gift Card.

(1) City Barbeque $20 Gift Card.

(1) Dirty Frank’s $20 Gift Card.

(1) Northland Heating & Cooling Certificate Good for a Free Furnace Tune-Up.  Retail Value $100.


Celebrating The Life Of Mary Beittel

We would like to thank everyone who attended & volunteered for the Memorial Service for Mary A. Beittel, who served so many years by the side of her husband, Kent Beittel as Executive Team of The Open Shelter.  It was heartwarming to see so many familiar faces come out to pay respect to her memory.  Thank you to Broad Street United Methodist Church, St. Agatha & Our Lady Of Peace Parishes for helping.

Rita Price wrote a wonderful article for The Columbus Dispatch about the service.  We also would like to thank Barbara J. Perenic for poignant pictures of the service.

The article can be read HERE.

Please consider making a contribution to continue Mary’s legacy of helping the homeless and marginally housed in our community.  Thank You.


YOU can help support The Open Shelter by attending the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship (8/31-9/3) and redeeming our Charity Ticket at the gate!  YOU get in FREE with the ticket!  Even better, with every Open Shelter ticket redeemed, a $10 donation will be made to The Open Shelter, which will help the homeless & marginally housed in our community.


To help The Open Shelter, PRINT this ticket The Open Shelter and hand it in at the gate.  The gates will be staffed daily until 4 pm.  Tickets can be printed in black & white.  You can use an Open Shelter Charity Ticket for each day of the tournament & also give them out to you friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, classmates & fellow parishioners!  So print as many as you can & SHARE, SHARE, SHARE!!!

The Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship is held annually at The Ohio State University Golf Club, Scarlet Course. It is the third of four Tour Finals events that help determine which players will earn PGA TOUR membership each season. At the end of the four Finals events, PGA TOUR cards will be awarded to the 25 leading money winners on the Tour with the remaining 25 cards going to those players who earn the most cumulative money in the four Finals events.

The Tournament has lots of fun activities for attendees including “Birdie Time Is Miller Time” at Pub Thirteen (located on Hole 13), a Putting Challenge for fans on the Practice Green & a FREE Pancake Breakfast on Sunday (9/3) Morning)!  Get more info at


We would like to thank the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship & the HNS Sports Group for allowing us to be a a part of this exciting event!

Beat The Back To School Blues With “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’s (8/26) theme is BACK TO SCHOOL.
Gateway Film Center is located at 1550 North High Street, Columbus, Ohio 43201.

Rest In Peace Mary Beittel


After a long and courageous battle with cancer, Mary Beittel went Home to be with the Lord the morning of Saturday, August 19th.
She was loved by many & will be missed.

Mary Beittel, born June 8, 1952, went with God, the Great Physician, on August 19, 2017 and concluded her long battle with cancer.

She is the loved daughter of Dominic and Mary Casbarro and the extraordinary matriarch of the Beittel clan. Her greatest joy has always been her family. With her husband Kent by her side, she has poured her immense well-spring of love into their children; Sue (Mike) Poulton, Dee Pendleton, Don (Stacy) Miller, Shanti (Michael) Kelly, Brian (Laura) Powell. Her capacity to love seemed to have no limits, embracing and cherishing their nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Mary and her husband served for over three decades as the leadership partnership which created and managed The Open Shelter in Columbus. She had blessed the lives of thousands of our homeless neighbors with her gifts of insight, wisdom, resources, and genuine respect and compassion. She has enriched the lives of countless volunteers with whom she joined and guided in opportunities for coordinated service and sharing. She has been the ally of all who genuinely cared about community stability and inclusion, and a champion for all who needed and ally.

Mary’s faith in God and love for people is evidenced, not only by her commitment of the guests of The Open Shelter and her family, but also by her dedication to Broad Street United Methodist Church where she served as treasurer for many years, redesigning the entire financial management efforts and championing the structural restoration of her community of faith.

As she begins this new aspect of life, joining with those who love her and have gone on before her, she is remembered, respected, and loved by her brothers and sister, many cousins, nieces, and nephews, and thousands from the streets.

All aspects of this life, so worth celebrating, are grounded in her amazing clarity of faith and depth of love with which she has blessed so many.

The family asks that community members and friends join them Saturday August 26, 2017 at the Snyder- Rodman Funeral Center in Delaware 101 Valleyside Dr., Delaware, Ohio 43015 from 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. for a period of reflection.

A memorial celebration service will be held 4:00 p.m. Monday August 28, 2017 at Broad Street United Methodist Church 501 E. Broad Street, Columbus, Ohio. A community dinner will follow, which does not surprise anyone who knows her.

Her children have asked that , in lieu of flowers, donations be made in her name to The Open Shelter, 61 E. Mound St. Columbus, Ohio 43215.

To share a fond memory or to leave a message of condolence please visit

The Snyder- Rodman Funeral Center in Delaware is honored to be serving the Beittel Family during this time.