Andreas, who came to us to get back on his feet, sat down to share what led him to The Open Shelter and how we have helped him thanks to YOUR support. 

Where are you from?  “Originally I moved up from North Carolina.  I moved up here in 2017 for work and have lived here ever since.  My work is warehouse management.  I was recruited for a job here and left North Carolina for it.”

What led you to The Open Shelter?  “Life happened.  I took a lot of things for granted.  I lost my job in October of 2021 and became homeless in February of 2022.  I was living in my car and was hard headed.  I didn’t want to ask for any help.  The car eventually died on me near Rickenbacker Air Base.  I lived in my car for about three months until I was told I was on restricted property.  I would move my car from time to time to a hotel parking lot so I could use their internet to communicate with my children.  I then moved into Friends of the Homeless on Main St.  I went out for a walk to the Parsons Avenue library one Friday and happened to walk by The Open Shelter.  I contacted Brian Hall, who is an alum of and now on the Board of The Open Shelter from the library and he told me to go in.  Sarah (Hatchard, Director Of Guest Services) pointed me in the right direction and helped me get a State ID.  I was at Friends of the Homeless until the end of July.  I was out on the streets for about four days.  I then ended up at Faith Mission.  I stayed there for about a month.  I had been getting job offers and I needed to accept one that was on a bus line.”

What were some of the struggles you went through living in your car?  “I would go days and days and days without eating because I was hard headed.  I didn’t want to ask for help and didn’t know of any shelters in Lockbourne.  I would get up every day and walk.  At night it was cold.  There were days when ice was falling.  My upper body was warm but my feet would get so cold through the floor boards.  I had blankets on the floor boards.  It amazed me how cold it got.  I am hot natured, I love the cold but there comes a point where I would go ‘Come on Sun, come up’.  I would walk to the truck stops and get water.  I would go from ten days to two weeks without eating.  I didn’t want to look homeless.  Maybe it was vanity.  I would try to wear a polo shirt, wear shorts in the summer and tried to keep clean.  I was always walking up and down Alum Creek Road.  I would try to blend in.”

Tell us about your family.  “I have four children.  Two are grown up.  I have two kids; one is my son who is 14.  I have a daughter who turned 10 this past June.  My children’s mother lives here but my parents still live in North Carolina. I started a new job in September with the company I was originally with.  I have a vehicle now and am living in a hotel in Obetz.  It’s hard finding a home since I have an eviction.  My son stays with me a lot.  I pick up my kids every morning and drive them to school.  Myself and their mother are on friendly terms.  I have been approached by a company in California to do a startup here in Columbus.  The warehouse has been built on the west side of Columbus.  I have been delegated with getting it up and running.”

Through all of this, how has The Open Shelter helped you?  “The Open Shelter gave me a lot of direction.  When I walked by that particular Friday, I was lost.  There’s not a lot of compassion on the streets.  It’s very sad.  I was able to get help with food stamps, I still call it that even though it’s on a card.  The guidance has helped me with many avenues such as getting Medicare for the first time.  I was able to get medication for blood pressure.  I hadn’t taken my meds since January of 2022 because I couldn’t afford it.  I got a hot meal every day and a sack lunch if I needed it.  I can have my mail sent here.  People may come in here with expectations but they have to do the leg work.  The Open Shelter will point you in the right direction.  What the staff of The Open Shelter does, I don’t know if I could do it.”