Talking With Terry

Terry came to us in need of help, she is now our Donation Coordinator.
She shares with us what led her to The Open Shelter.

“I am from Miami, Florida.  I came to Columbus in January of 2022.  At that time, I was living in and out of hotels and my car when funds were not available.  Someone told me about The Open Shelter.  I came to get some food for myself and my family.  I met a lot of the staff here.  I would come here to eat and I would start doing little different things to help out.  At that time, I was pregnant, so I didn’t do a lot but I did enough to show my appreciation.  I would come consistently and show my appreciation every day.”

“Around June of 2022, I was hired.  Which was a blessing at that time.  I came to Columbus because I wanted something different.  To try to start my life over.  Down in Miami, there is a lot of poverty. I couldn’t find a job.  I barely had a place.  My husband couldn’t find a job there.  We were making ends meet from a little income.  My husband is from Mansfield.  We talked about it and my husband said ‘I know you don’t want to go back to Ohio but I have family there’, which we thought would help us.  It didn’t go that way.  But you live and you learn, that all family is not helpful.  My family is from Jamaica.  I wasn’t going to go back there because the poverty is even lower.  They are really struggling themselves down there.  My mom is dead.  My dad, grandmother and some aunts and uncles are trying to get green cards to get to the States.”

“I was very ill in Miami.  Their medical assistance is very bad there.  My husband decided that it wasn’t working there, we had to leave.  I wasn’t in a doctor’s care there.  Once I got back to Ohio, I was able to get Medicaid again.  I was able to get chemo sessions that I needed.  I was able to get my blood pressure and diabetes medicine.  I have a lot of medical issues.  The poverty level in Miami is really, really high.  They show you the beautiful part of it.  What they don’t show you is the low income part of it.  People don’t think there is a low income part of Miami but there is.  There are people there that are really ill, they are not getting the proper care.  The elderly there are not getting the care they need.  We were getting rotten food from Meals On Wheels down there.  They would put your food outside on a gate.  If you didn’t know what time it was coming, it would sit out in the sun for hours.  By the time you would get it, it was spoiled.”

“Neither of us was working there.  My husband’s background is not that good.  Everyone has done something in their past they are not proud of.  It was kind of hard for him to find a job there.  They wouldn’t bend rules to give you a job.  Coming here, there are jobs that if you had a felony twenty years ago, they will give you a chance.  They will let you redeem yourself and get yourself together.  We were in Miami for two and a half years.  We went to Miami from Mansfield.  My husband talked to a gentleman regarding a job after Hurricane Irma hit to do clean up.  He was going to get $25 an hour, with benefits and they were going to pay for our room and board.  We got there and it wasn’t that.”

“I have a son that was born premature.  I went through a very hard pregnancy carrying him.  I had to have chemo, then I had to stop it and then start it back.  It was a really bad struggle.  I wasn’t eating properly before I started coming here.  My son was born with his intestines on the outside.  He only weighed one pound and ten ounces when he was born.  He’s doing better.  He is gaining weight but still struggling.  He is at the Cleveland Clinic.  He has a colostomy bag right now.  Once he gets strong enough, they will put him back together and then he will come back home.  It’s been extremely stressful.  At first, I was driving to Cleveland every single day.  It was costly.  Now I have been going every other week.  I have eight kids total.  We now live by Easton Way.  It’s very nice and quiet.  Sheli (Mathias, Open Shelter Director) is wonderful, she was helping me look for different places.  Diana Alexander (CMHA & Board Member of The Open Shelter) looked into some places managed by CMHA.  I had a Section 8 voucher and ended up where I am now.”

“It felt good getting hired, from not having anything to something.  To being able to take care of your family.  You know, to be part of a family.  I consider The Open Shelter like being part of a family.  I was very excited.  I still feel like it is a new beginning for me.  I didn’t have anything when I first came here.  To be working, I feel much better.  I have something to look forward to.  I love what I do.  When I leave here at the end of the day and come back in the morning, I know I am going to help somebody.  Whether it’s a pair of shoes, getting them a clean outfit for that day or a bottle of cough syrup they couldn’t afford.  I love what I do, because at the end of the day, I know I am helping someone.”

“Every day, someone is in need of something.  It feels good to be able to help someone, knowing that you were once in their position.  If you have ever been homeless, displaced or put out, you know the feeling of being out there, alone and not knowing who is able to help you.  When you come to The Open Shelter, you are going to get a meal, going to be able to get some warm clothes, some conversation.  Someone is going to give you a friendly smile, a warm hug and make you feel like yourself again.  You don’t get that from every place.”