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-