Michael Oles – our founder, president, and author of Help the Homeless OFF THE STREETS One Person at a Time – is a retired U.S. Air Force Colonel with over 34 years of experience as a volunteer and coordinator working with the homeless. Another member, Joe Simons, is the Chairman of the Board and Coordination Director for the Connecticut chapters. Now retired from IBM, Joe also has over 34 years of experience both as a volunteer and coordinator working with the homeless.
The life-changing event for Oles happened when he saw a homeless man on a cold winter’s night in one of the local Connecticut shelters give up his bed to a homeless woman. “The only possession he had was a bed, and he gave it away. That was a total eye-opener for me,” Oles said. Later, Oles, with another homeless person, spoke to students at a local school about homelessness. The students were inspired to take action, raising money for the homeless person to get off the streets. The students’ generosity and energy struck Oles, pushing him to action. “Students have great idealism, and often as adults we lose that. They pushed me to do more,” he explained.
Soon afterwards, Oles founded the original chapter in Danbury in 2009. Currently, there are five other chapters: Bridgeport, CT (this chapter, 2014); Lancaster, PA (2014); Huntington Beach, CA (2015); Susquehanna Valley, PA (2016); and Wenatchee Valley, WA (2019).
OTS Bridgeport serves the homeless and those at risk of becoming homeless in the greater Bridgeport area by providing much needed security deposits directly to landlords for eligible individuals and families requiring this deposit to secure housing in modest apartments.
How OTS Helps
OTS Bridgeport works as follows (see Note below):
- OTS Inc. is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit and nonsectarian organization
- 100% volunteer with minimal expenses
- Over 95% of funding goes directly to those in need
- No reliance on state or federal funding
- Working from referrals from with local social service agencies
Note: Due to the sad and unexpected passing in 2019 of the founder of our local branch, Kevin Moore, our efforts were temporarily redirected to locating a new administrator. In spite of this setback we were still able to place 40 individuals in 2019 and 255 persons from our inception in 2013. Our prayers were answered in May 2020 when Gerard Agoglia became the new director.
Every dollar makes a difference in getting the homeless off the streets. Please help us as we strive to get more people into housing!