The Open Shelter

Thank You John & Susan

John & Susan are dedicated volunteers here at The Open Shelter.

They are very valuable in helping us make sure those we serve are helped and that things run smoothly.

They sat down to chat with us and you a little about themselves and The Open Shelter.

John: “I am from South Bend, Indiana. I was raised a Hoosier.”

Susan: “I am from the Philadelphia area in Pennsylvania.”

John: “We were both working the same job for the State of Ohio, that is what brought us to Columbus. I was in a life transition situation. I orginally was hired by Kent Beittel (former Director of The Open Shelter) about 35 years ago. I worked second shift on State Street as an extra job. I worked there for about a year. It was an incredible experience. That is how I first became involved with The Open Shelter. It was a transition because I worked in business with the State of Ohio. Then I transferred to the Ohio State University. I got my master’s degree in social work. I’ve been a social worker ever since. The Open Shelter was part of that transition.”

“Kent had one interview question for me. He asked if I would be willing to take a person into a shower and scrape them down. My answer was ‘yes’. So he hired me. I worked with all sorts of people. It was a good experience for me and I needed the money too.”

Susan: “We met through work when we both worked for the State of Ohio. I actually was in Cincinnati working for the union. I was in occupational health and safety. That was only short term and I eventually got hooked up with the state. That is how I met John. John was already volunteering for The Open Shelter when we were dating. A lot of other stuff happened and now we are back.”

“There was a long period of time where we thought we needed to do something useful so John knew about The Open Shelter and we came right down. When I finally retired, I found a couple of places to volunteer and this was one of them.”

Susan: “We help to serve meals when there isn’t a church or other organization doing that. That also entails cleaning up afterwards. We also work with the clothes. Straightening out the clothes, hanging up clothes, and putting them out for those who come here. We organize and sort things.”

John: “I kind of like working in the back of the facility. The kitchen utensils, I wash the dishes.”

“For me, I need to give back. I have had a wonderful life. I have had wonderful children. I have not had any real major issues. It’s a payback.”

Susan: “I got a college degree and then I had a life change myself. I was an industrial hygenist for the State of Ohio and then I went off and started a small management consulting company. But then I got into aide work where I was helping people as a home health aide. To go from having a college degree to becoming a home health aide, I don’t know how that happened; but I believe in a higher power. I have been led through this process beautifully. What I came to realize about myself that when you can do the hands on work, when you can step away from someone and know they are clean and comfortable, or when you can give somebody some food and you know they are going to be fed. For me, it’s really the hands on, direct contact, and the people here have been wonderful. It’s just very satisfying.”

“I have had angels; three people I remember in particular. I think about them all the time. Marguerite was this older women who was in a nursing home. One time she just looked at me while I was giving her a bath and said, ‘Thank you for doing what you do.’ I thought I was just doing my job. Then I remember walking down the hall and just being gobsmacked and thinking ‘What just happened?’ There was another man, Donald, he was in a facility and he was only in his 60s. I swear every time I walked into his room, I felt love. Years later I went back and there was a housekeeper there and she said ‘He really loved you’. The third was an appalachian woman, she was only in her 50s. I remember walking past her husband and her mother, and they never said a word to me. They were very close knit. But for some reason God said ‘go to her viewing’ to me and I went. Her sister who could not deal with the fact her sister was dying came up to me and thanked me. It was just such a blessing because that was so against their culture. I have been blessed.”

John: “Working with Solomon Dean (Director of Day Services)…he is a real driver. A real take charge person. He has a real good mindset to help the crowd that comes in and out of The Open Shelter. I respect him.”

Susan: “And Solomon repsects you, too. He really appreciates you. I am so grateful he is ready to stand up and take charge. We need him. But I also feel totally loved by him. I would tell anyone who is thinking of volunteering to come down and give it a try. The Open Shelter is flexible and they make it comfortable for you. We come down twice a week and every little bit helps and you come away feeling good. “

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