About Us / History
The Open Door is a 501(c)(3), non-profit organization. The Mission’s legal, tax-exempt name is Servants of the Word; it legally does business as The Open Door.
The Open Door Mission started out of Ernie Blanchette’s concern for having a shelter in Glens Falls. After a feasibility study, it was determined that a soup kitchen was of more immediate need. The Open Door served its first 13 hot meals from an RV in Peter Shabat’s parking lot off of South Street in Glens Falls, NY, on September 5, 1991. When it became too cold to serve outdoors, Peter Mastrangelo (representing Glens Falls National Bank) offered us the bank’s “community room,” and later, a store front on South Street. In October of 1993, we were offered an opportunity to move to 24 South Street, and from there to our current location at 47 Lawrence Street in 2010.
The Open Door is a Christian ministry dedicated to reaching out and serving needs of the poor and homeless of our community. One major way we accomplish this is through the daily provision of hot, nutritious meals served in a friendly, welcoming environment. We offer this care to all people, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, creed, or religion.
The Open Door program began by serving a meal once a week. From there, the program has expanded to a six day operation, recently serving more than 1600 meals each month-including on-site meals. In a year, our emergency food pantry provides 20,000 meals to over 75 families, as well as distributing thousands of lbs. of gleaned and other food items to many local groups/agencies.
The Open Door started a Code Blue shelter in January of 2014. This shelter provides food and a warm bed on winter nights that a forecast to go below 32* or 12" of precipitation. We average 13-15 people per night. Our staff and volunteers offer grace and a listening ear to each guest. Many guests have received help finding housing and jobs through Code Blue.
The Open Door also partners with 10 local schools to provide weekend lunches for 300 identified "at risk" students in local schools, in cooperation with school administration and the PTA organization. All services and programs are provided free of charge.
The Open Door functions with a very small staff along with 620+ volunteers representing many local businesses, agencies and churches. In addition to hot meals and emergency food support, the program provides guests with encouragement for daily living, including medical screenings, haircuts, an informal mentoring program, and support to community-based substance abuse. Information referral and advocacy are regularly provided.