The Open Shelter

Miss Sadie Shares

Miss Sadie has had to overcome many struggles in her life. She has lived a full life and The Open Shelter has been there along the way. She sat down to share about herself and how The Open Shelter has assisted her.

“I am from Mississippi. I have been in Columbus for over 30 years. I happened to come here on vacation and I liked it. I went back home and then came back here. My life in Mississippi was alright. I was doing ok but things changed and times changed. It was time for a change. I was running a janitorial service when I was a much younger person. I was doing odd jobs, like running janitorial, cleaning office buildings downtown, and cooking at The Colony Club on the east side.”

“They let me set up ‘Sadie’s Kitchen’ inside The Colony Club. Ox tails and greens was my staple. I also cooked fish and chicken, wings, and stuff like that. A lot of people knew about ‘Sadie’s Kitchen’. That lasted about three or four years. It was a pretty good run. But there again, things changed and life changed. The guy who owned The Colony Club got sick and it was closed down.”

“I still have family in Mississippi. I just lost a brother on November 5th from colon cancer. The rest of my family has dispersed all over. I have been coming to The Open Shelter for years. I came to The Open Shelter when I wasn’t supposed to come to The Open Shelter when it was on State St. At that time, it was for men only. I used to go in there and go up to the front desk. Solomon (Dean, Director of Day Services) would say, ‘You know you aren’t supposed to be here, go outside’. And he would send me something outside. He would send me food to eat outside and I would appreciate that because at that particular time, me and a friend had fell out. I was actually homeless and living on the street at that time.” I was sleeping in a doorway downtown. People had all this furniture and other stuff under a bridge and they would say ‘come under here!’. I would say ‘nuh uh’.”

“I was walking down Front St. and I saw a man blind with a cup. I said to myself, ‘I can see’. I kept walking, and I saw a man with really short arms. I said to myself, ‘I have my arms’. I continued to walk, and I saw a man sitting in front of a bank with no legs. I said to myself, ‘I have my legs’. I went to the welfare office on Fulton and asked for help. The lady there said she could give me one month’s rent or a security deposit. She gave me a list of places to call. I called a Mrs. Robinson and she showed me a room. At that time, I rented it for $125 a month.”

“I was out looking for a job and while I was out walking, a man pulled up in this little car. He kept coming out of the car. This big dude just kept coming out of a little sports car. I asked him for a cigarette and he said, ‘No, but I can give you something you can get cigarettes with’. I said, ‘Ok, what is that?’ He said, ‘A job!’. I was, ‘For real? Don’t play now!’ He said, ‘Meet me down here tomorrow at 5 o’clock’.”

“4:30 the next day, I was out in front of the building! He finally pulled up and he was laughing. I said again, ‘Don’t play with me!’ He said, “Calm down. I am going to give you a job’. He took me down to the basement of a building where the other employees were. They all had other jobs, day jobs. He asked me if I knew anything about janitorial work and I told him that I used to run a janitorial company. He thought that was great and asked me to set up a plan for cleaning each floor of the building. I loved the job and did it for two years.”

“Even though I was I working, I didn’t forget where I came from! I would still come by and see Solomon. I would drop in every now and then and have something to eat. If there was something I needed, they would help me with it.”

“Things got really bad when I had to move out of the last place I was in. The development on the city’s east side, it is almost like they are against the elderly. I was put out of the double I was living in so there could be two more parking spaces for a building that was being built. They tore my house down. I had lived there awhile.”

“My Medicaid depends on my zip code. I could lose benefits like Meals On Wheels because of my zip code. The Open Shelter helped me get into a place on Garfield Avenue. Sheli (Mathias, our Director) helped me with finding it. They helped me in so many different ways. Sheli and Solomon have been so helpful. The Open Shelter has always been there for me. I have dyslexia. So handling leases, or address changes, anything like that, I always come to The Open Shelter so Sheli and Solomon can help me. They have filled out paperwork for me when I moved from one place to another.”

“They have helped me with food, clothing, and hygiene items. When you move, there is always a little slack until things get back up again. The Open Shelter helps take up that slack. I can come down here and get food. I can come down here and get clothes. I can even come here and get laundry detergent and toilet paper. I appreciate all of that. I need it. I take it home and use it.”

“Unfortunately things have went bad where I am staying this year. The property has been sold. My rent has went up from $375 to $900 a month. I barely get $900 a month! But, so far, they haven’t kicked me out yet. So I am hoping and praying that someone might be able to help me subsidize the $900 a month. I only get $945 a month through Social Security. I am going to need something like Section 8 or else I am going to have to move. But hopefully I can stay in the same zip code so my benefits don’t go bad.”

“If I had anything I could donate, I would be the first person to help The Open Shelter! It helps so many people. Not just me, but anybody that walks through their door. They don’t care what color you are, how tall you are, how short you are, they don’t care about any of that! They have helped me and I have seen them help so many others.”

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