Fighting For Families

The Open Shelter is a “covered piece of the sidewalk” for everyone that we serve. That includes families. We have recently seen a dramatic increase in the number of families that come through our doors.

Open Shelter Director Sheli Mathias with Patricia

We have helped Patricia and her family for several years: “We have been coming here for about four or five years. I have two daughters and a fiancĂ©. I heard about The Open Shelter when I was on the streets. I didn’t get along with my family and I tried to get a place of my own and ended up on the streets. Being cold and wet. The Open Shelter has helped us with food and a place to chill and socialize with others. The Open Shelter has also helped with clothes and diapers.”

Patricia and her family are housed but getting through a typical month can be difficult: “It’s a struggle trying to figure out how to get food. I spend all day trying to get supplies for my family. I have a newborn that means everything to me. Our lives would be a lot different if it weren’t for The Open Shelter.”

Larusha (3rd from left) with Open Shelter Director of Day Services Solomon Dean and her newborn son Zion, nephew Cylan, and daughter Moana.

Larusha and her newborn son Zion, daughter Moana and nephews Cylan & Ayddyn rely on The Open Shelter: “We have been coming here for about a year. I love Solomon (Deputy Director of Day Services). He is Zion’s godfather. I like the service here. I feel welcomed. I come here to talk to others, to eat, to get household supplies. I come here from the west side. I have been homeless with my family. I was living with friends; in cars. It was bad but even when I was in the Van Buren shelter, I could come here. Solomon and everyone here is very family oriented. They help a lot of single moms. You can get stressed out trying to do everything yourself. You feel lonely.”

Andrea (L) & Ana (R) with their children Maria (L), Jocelyn (M), and Aaron (R)

Andrea and her sister Ana bring their children Aaron, Jocelyn, and Maria to The Open Shelter for help: “We need the help and The Open Shelter has helped us a lot with all kinds of stuff. We are living with friends. We have received so much help with food, clothing, and houseware. We came to Columbus from Mexico. Our mom brought us here. Mexico is poor and doesn’t provide a lot of help so she decided to come here. My children’s father was deported and it’s been hard trying to raise them on my own so I appreciate what The Open Shelter does for us.”

Brittany (Middle) with her daughter Natalie (L) and son Anthony (R).

The Open Shelter also helps Brittany, her daughter Natalie (5 years old), and her son Anthony (4 years old): “We have been coming here since 2017. I came here because I was homeless due to an addiction to crack cocaine. I have been clean and sober for about four years. My mother took care of my kids while I was homeless. I was living in camps along the Scioto River. It was bad. I had to struggle for food. I was stealing food and stealing what I needed. I felt like my life was in danger every day. You never know who will come out there. I was beaten up by my ex out there. I left him and got my life together.”

“I found out about The Open Shelter through word on the streets. The Open Shelter has helped with resources that are hard to come by. Bus passes, ID vouchers, birth certificates, food, clothing, toys for my kids; they love toys. The Open Shelter has helped tremendously.”

“I have been housed for about four years on the west side. I get no type of assistance so the food I get here is tremendous. The sack lunches are great. I work remodeling houses. I can fix my own house!”

Brittany and her children also have been part of our Holiday Events: “I love them, my kids love them. They love the toys. At the Christmas event, they had a blast picking their own toys out. The Easter baskets didn’t last too long…lol.”

“The Open Shelter has kept me alive. It kept me alive. I don’t know what I would have done without The Open Shelter. I haven’t been on the streets or homeless until then.

“I have lived in Columbus all of my life and grew up right here on Parsons Ave. It was hard growing up. I was in and out of children’s services. My parents were drug addicts. Then they got clean and got me back. Then I became homeless because of my addiction since I thought it was ok. That was all I had seen, so that’s what I chose to do. I then got in trouble and got my first felony charge as an adult, for robbery. I was getting high with someone and we robbed a gas station. We took all the money, cigarettes and food. I was addicted from about 2017 through 2020.”

What was it like trying to fight your addiction? “It was really bad. I was doing everything I could to get money. I was panhandling. Sold everything I owned except myself. I would never sell myself.”

What do your children mean to you? “Everything. If it wasn’t for them I probably wouldn’t have a house, I would still be in trouble and still getting high. I think about my kids now. I want my family back together. Natalie is a tomboy. My kids are my world. Their father died because of drugs in 2019. They all have health issues. Natalie is blind in her right eye. It’s hard being a single parent, I have another child as well; a 10-year-old boy named Tyjuan. He has a very rare heart disease. Every day is a struggle. I want to eventually build my own dream home and a bigger home for my kids.”

Brittany (M) with son Tyuan (L) and daughter Natalie (R) at our 2020 Easter Event.

“Sheli and Solomon have helped me a lot. He has led me to resources. They have both helped me to make sure my kids are fed. They have helped me with bus passes, birth certificates for my kids and an ID for me!”

The families that come to The Open Shelter are vulnerable, doing whatever they can to survive. YOUR support makes sure that we remain OPEN to them!
Please Donate HERE- Thank You.