The Tioga County Open Door Mission began because of a young minister, and his determination to combated homelessness in his community. That young minister opened a shelter in his home, while him and his family lived in the second floor. From that one man's determination the Mission has grown and expanded to service the community in a number of ways, including an eight bed men's homeless shelter.
Although the Mission's founder was willing to welcome homeless individuals into his home, not all of the members of the community were supportive of the creation of a homeless shelter in Owego, NY. The stigma of homelessness has a strong effect on our ability to fight homelessness in the United States. Unfortunately, we still work to end the stigma surrounding homelessness even today in the work the Mission does.
We feel at the Mission that if more people knew some of the stories of the men that live in our shelter, maybe we could finally wash away that stigma. Even in the small community of Owego, NY our shelter is filled with men from all over the United States. A large population of our residents are veterans, from the Vietnam War all the way up to young veterans coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan. Mental health, especially untreated mental health concerns are another major factor that effect our residents. Some of the most caring and hard working residents we have had stay with us have struggles with untreated mental health issues, which have led to their homelessness. Also with mental health comes a number of other concerns such as self medicating through addiction and some of the causes of metal health issues such as abuse.
Even with the ever changing personalities and experiences of the men that stay in our shelter one of the most common factors we see that has led to their homelessness is a lack a support system. For many of the men the Mission, its staff and volunteers, are the only family they have. Many have never had someone to be accountable to, encouraged by or even noticed, until they came to the Mission.
We hope this post helps people maybe see a different side to homelessness and understand some of the reasons the Mission feels so passionately about addressing this problem. If you or someone you know needs information about our shelter please click on the Men's Homeless Shelter tab for more details about our services.