The Power of Relationship: An “Open Table” Story

Published July 23, 2014

Open TableWhen M.L. entered the Cold Weather Shelter in February 2014 he did not present with any mental health or addiction issues. It was a series of unfortunate events that caused him to become homeless. M.L. suffered a stroke in August 2013, partially paralyzing the left side of his body and in January 2014 he suffered a brain aneurysm that resulted in significant neurological damage. In the months between the stroke and aneurysm his wife filed for divorce. With no place to stay and no income he ended up at the shelter. We helped him apply for Social Security disability and TDAP (Temporary Disability Assistance Program) and he was quickly approved for TDAP. He also applied for various housing programs, but all had extensive wait lists.

Fortunately, a friend allowed M.L. to stay in his home until something became available. He continued to meet weekly with Shelter Case Manager, Jill, after the shelter closed and just a few weeks later he was approved for the Supportive Housing Program through Community Action Council. Finding housing was a huge milestone, but M.L. still had significant unmet needs. The divorce was in process and he was concerned that he would not be able to see his two daughters since children are not allowed at the Dagmar.

M.L. came to the United States from Romania as a young adult and most of his family still lives there, so he does not have a support system here. Because of his great attitude, readiness for change and other positive factors, Jill determined M.L. would be a great candidate for Open Table – a movement of servants restoring people in poverty to our communities through relationship and the investment of our own vocational and life experiences and personal networks. The relationships created through Open Table are giving M.L. the support system and guidance he needs. Table members are helping him with the divorce/custody process, securing more suitable housing, increasing his income, transportation issues and more. Open Table has been a great transition from case management for M.L.!

Open Table is a program of Reach of Washington County. For more information or to get involved, contact Jodie Ostoich at or (301) 733-2371.

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