Jesse & Tiffany

TIFFANY: “I was half raised in Texas and Ohio.  I bounced back and forth.  I came up here to see my mom in the summertime but most of my life I have spent in Ohio.  I have spent most of my teenage and adult years here.”

JESSE: “I was born and raised here in Columbus, the South Side.  My mom and dad lived on Third St.  I went to Stewart Elementary.  Then we moved on the other side of Parsons, closer to Lockbourne Rd.  Always on the South End.”

TIFFANY: “I’ve been coming to The Open Shelter off and on for about thirteen years.  When I first got back to Ohio from Texas, when I finally got sober, my mom didn’t want me in her house.  I was on the street and somebody told me about The Open Shelter.  I found you downtown and have been coming ever since.  I went through a bad time in Texas and when I moved back to Ohio with my mom, she didn’t trust me in her house.  I ended up on the streets and at Faith Mission.  That’s when I first started coming to The Open Shelter for lunches, clothing and other stuff.  In Texas, I was really bad on meth and ended up marrying someone I shouldn’t have.  I got out of that and ended up in a shelter in Downtown Dallas.  I was there for about six months.  After everything I went through, I ended up in a mental institution.  I went crazy and lost my mind.  That is how I ended up with a disability check.  I used that money to move back to Ohio.  I was sober when I came back.”

JESSE: “I started coming to The Open Shelter about 2019.  We got together then.  I lived on the West Side.  I got really bad on cocaine and alcohol.  I was drinking every day.  Every day I would drink a fifth of Crown.  It didn’t matter what day it was, I was drinking.  I ended up going to jail on September 2019 right before my mother passed away.  I did three months at Jackson Pike, getting out in December.  We reconnected and I find out about The Open Shelter.  We could get lunches; we didn’t have anywhere to go then.” 

TIFFANY: “We connected through facebook.”  She smiles while recalling this.  “A mutual friend of ours went to something called ‘Redneck Rave’ and she posted a bunch of pictures.  I saw a picture of one of the artists I listen to and a guy next to him.  I wondered, ‘hmm, I wonder who that is?’ and it was Jesse.  He was cute in the picture!  My friend tagged his name in the picture, so I stalked his facebook page for about a week and a half before I got the courage to comment on one of his pictures.  We got to talking for a few hours.  Then I got the courage to go meet him and it was just history after that.  He was working at a pizza shop at the time but he lost that job and we became homeless.”

JESSE:  “I went to jail, lost the job and my apartment.  I went into jail addicted, when I came out I was stone sober.  When I was in jail, I couldn’t do anything.  When I was in there I had the mentality where I didn’t want to go back to doing drugs and drinking bad.  I did it basically cold turkey.  When I was in there I didn’t say anything to the officers that I needed anything to stay sober.” 

TIFFANY: “We’ve both been sober for three years.  When I started coming to The Open Shelter, I didn’t know of all the opportunities and things you offered.  It took me awhile to learn about everything that was offered here.  In the past year, The Open Shelter has helped me get into my own place.  I have been there for a year.  I just signed a new lease for another year.  Solomon (Deputy Director of Day Services) has been really good.  He has helped me with everything.  It’s just great, I am very thankful for The Open Shelter.  I just needed that extra help to get in there.”

JESSE: “I have been able to start my own business.  It’s called ‘Up In Clouds, LLC’.  It’s a smoke shop but instead of brick and mortar, it’s mobile.  We deliver around the Central Columbus area.  There’s no other smoke shop that does this.  It’s been going very good for almost over two years.  The Open Shelter has helped me keep my business, with offering a mailing address.  I didn’t have a mailing address for a time.  Also, the support, Solomon was proud of me for being able to start my own business.”

TIFFANY: “When he first started his business, we were sleeping in a vehicle.  I have lived outside near the Scioto River in a tent during the summer.  The main challenge we faced while living outside was hygiene.  A lot of people think if you are homeless, you are on something, or you are a thief or you are just a bad person.  Just because you are homeless it doesn’t mean you are a bad person.  Just going to a family member’s house to take a shower was a real struggle.  When I was living near the Scioto River, I had really long hair.  I had to cut my hair to my shoulders because it was so hard to keep it washed.  I would go to the restroom at White Castle, put my head in the sink and wash my hair.”


JESSE: “I really don’t have family for us to reach out to ask for help.  My dad passed away in 2017 and my mother passed away in 2019 while I was in jail.  Somebody else got her house.  My brother and sister stopped communicating with me because rumors about me from this person who got the house got to them.  It even got to my family in West Virginia, so everyone shunned me off.”


IF SOMEONE IS THINKING ABOUT DONATING TO THE OPEN SHELTER, WHAT WOULD YOU TELL THEM?
TIFFANY:  “Do It!  Because they are not here for themselves, they are here for other people.  They are here for people like me.  They are here for people who just need to come in and get off the streets for a minute.  They do a lot; they have parties for the homeless.  Every weekday, there is a meal.  Even if you are not homeless, you can still come in here.  I will come in to get an outfit or two.”



JESSE:  “Everybody can use a little bit of help, no matter what help it is.  There is nothing wrong with asking for help.”