Off the Streets Humble Background and History
Off the Streets’ background and history is a humble one. Off the Streets was founded by Deacon Michael Oles, a long term volunteer at Dorothy Day Hospitality House in Danbury CT. Like Off the Streets, Dorothy Day House is staffed completely by volunteers. DDHH provides meals to 80-120 people each day and shelter to 16 people every night.
When Deacon Oles was asked to speak about homelessness to a group of middle school religious education students, he brought along some homeless people to tell their stories. The students were so moved by the stories that they sent money to Deacon Oles to get these people into housing. However, Deacon Oles had no experience in getting people into housing (it’s a lot different than cooking meals in a soup kitchen or manning an overnight shelter). After some procrastination, he succeeded in finding apartments and paid the security deposit with the students funds.
After this success, the word got out on the street that Deacon Mike could get people out of homelessness into housing. Unsolicited contributions from church groups and individuals continued to flow in, and more people were placed in housing. In September 2009, Deacon Mike recruited a number of volunteers, and Off the Streets was formed as a non-profit organization. Since that time, the basic mission has not changed but activities have expanded to include furniture delivery and mentoring.
In October 2011, Off The Streets was recognized with a Community Partnership Award from the Danbury Housing Partnership.
Until summer 2013, Off the Streets operated exclusively in the Danbury CT area. Now OTS is also operating in Lancaster, PA and the greater Bridgeport, CT area.