Open Doors

aka Open Doors   |   Norwalk, CT   |


Open Doors strives to make a direct impact in the Greater Norwalk area by guiding every person in the cycle of homelessness towards housing stability

Notes from the nonprofit

Open Doors' Manifesto: Why are we here? One simple reason: To help others find their path in life. We're not a destination. We're a foundation to build on. We welcome clients with open arms By offering them the resources they need to recover, The tools they need to change, And the confidence they need to stick to the plan. As the heart of a welcoming community, we draw from every corner To help people discover their individual purpose and power. To take control of their future. To navigate from needing shelter to owning success. We are here to inspire, support, and guide. But the strength is theirs. The pride is theirs. The path belongs to them.

Ruling year info


Executive Director

Michele Conderino

Main address

4 Merritt Street

Norwalk, CT 06854 USA

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NTEE code info

Temporary Shelter For the Homeless (L41)

Food Banks, Food Pantries (K31)

Congregate Meals (K34)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Using data produced by the last census and from DataHaven, Open Doors determined that 20,000 community members in the greater Norwalk area are at risk of homelessness based on income levels and housing cost burden rates. Open Doors designed and implemented programs and created partnerships with area experts to address these barriers and provide opportunities, transforming the organization into a hub of service for an area that has limited service delivery. Open Doors recognizes that homelessness is not an isolated problem but rather a symptom of economic and social inequity in our country. Open Doors has evolved as an organization, creating services and partnerships that drive low-income households toward financial and housing stability with the overall goal of ending homelessness. The drive to end homelessness does not only benefit those at risk of homelessness but the community as a whole.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Case Management

Individualized case management is the core of Open Doors’ services. The case management team at Open Doors provides support that is tailored to each shelter guest or housed client. The focus is to help them achieve or maintain stable housing of their own, while also working to connect them with resources to help conquer obstacles to achieving these goals.

Population(s) Served
Economically disadvantaged people
Homeless people

As a Housing First organization, Open Doors has emergency shelter space for individuals and families. Each guest at Open Doors is matched with a case manager who works with them to create and execute an individualized plan to help them move from shelter to a stable home of their own as quickly as possible.

Population(s) Served
Homeless people

Open Doors currently has 55 affordable and supportive apartments and is committed to doing our part to close the affordable housing gap in Fairfield County. Residents of these units pay an affordable rate as determined by their income or are matched with housing support

Population(s) Served
Homeless people
Economically disadvantaged people

The kitchen at Open Doors is the only program in Norwalk providing free hot meals every day to anyone in need. Open Doors also has a grocery pantry that is open five days a week and a holiday meal basket program in the fall, winter, and spring that give food to low-income households in our neighborhood.

Population(s) Served
Economically disadvantaged people

As a PATH (Projects for Assistant in Transition from Homelessness) provider, Open Doors has a team member dedicated to outreach and engagement into services to people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness and have serious mental health needs or who have mental health needs with a co-occurring substance use disorder.

Population(s) Served
Homeless people
Substance abusers
People with psychosocial disabilities

Open Doors partners with industry experts to provide employment services, one-on-one job placement, financial coaching, and income support navigation for area residents and shelter guests. Programs are open to any Norwalk area resident who is looking for resources to help achieve and maintain a sustainable income

Population(s) Served
Economically disadvantaged people
Unemployed people

In order to give children dealing with homelessness the same opportunities as their peers, Open Doors provides after-school enrichment and connects families with summer youth activities.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
Homeless people

Open Doors’ Community Closet is a ‘free store’ where households in need can shop for seasonal clothing, shoes, and household necessities. Everything in the community closet is donated by our neighbors in order to provide quality wardrobes and goods for people dealing with poverty and homelessness.

Population(s) Served
Economically disadvantaged people

Where we work


Hotel to Home, Gold Star Award and individual staff recognitions 2020

National Alliance to End Homelessness

“Light a Fire” Homelessness Impact, Open Doors and Executive Director Michele Conderino 2020

Moffly Media

Neighborhood Builders 2023

Bank of America Southern Connecticut

Affiliations & memberships

Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness 1984

Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness 1984

Norwalk Community Health Center 2013

Career Resources 2019

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of meals served or provided

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Economically disadvantaged people

Related Program


Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

2023 numbers from 7/1/22 through 6/1/23. Also provided 6,457 bags of groceries through pantry program during this time.

Number of participants who gain employment

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Economically disadvantaged people, Unemployed people

Related Program

Financial Opportunity Center

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success


Context Notes

2023 numbers from 7/1/22 through 6/30/23.

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

By 2030, Open Doors will become the gold standard across the state of Connecticut in three years and a national model in ten years in serving those experiencing homelessness with a Housing First model rooted in support services across the spectrum of needs.

To accomplish this and to ensure its long-term sustainability, Open Doors will:
- Create a fully financially sustainable organization reflective of our mission,
- Have the financial and operational resources required to provide housing stability for those experiencing homelessness in Greater Norwalk,
- Ensure our homeless shelter will be in top decile of all homeless shelters in Connecticut as measured by key performance metrics,
- Have best-in-class partners to serve the broader needs that are essential to our clients achieving their potential.

Of note, events of recent months remind us that even the best laid plans require adaptability in order to serve the most pressing community needs. Our focus over the next decade will be to put in place the operational and financial pillars necessary to realize our goals. That said, we will always respond to the needs of the community to accommodate any social, economic, or health crisis that arises.

Open Doors works diligently to ensure that homelessness is rare, brief, and non-­ reoccurring. Open Doors' strategies for achieving our goals include:

1) An Emergency Shelter that provides social services and a food program for homeless individuals and families and those living in poverty. The shelter case management services team provides individuals and families with comprehensive services including counseling, crisis intervention, goal planning, referrals to additional community support services, on site health care/mental health services, financial management, access to shelter, shower, toiletries, clothing, laundry facilities and computers/ phones .

2) Food Services -The food program provides hot meals every day of the year, as well as groceries through our Food Pantry.

3) Housing Assistance - Open Doors provides a comprehensive array of services that ensure individuals and families can obtain and are successful in housing. These services include intensive case management, rental assistance, and financial management. Open Doors uses a Housing First model to ensure individuals and families are stably housed so they are better able to succeed with supportive services.

4) Financial Opportunity Center - The FOC provides job placement for individuals in living wage jobs. This program is part of a national movement called Employment First, a 'best practices 'framework for system; change that is centered on the premise that all citizens are capable of full participation in integrated employment and community life.

5) Family Services -Open Doors offers wrap -around services for homeless families, which include parenting skills education for parents and after-school educational and recreational programming for school-age children and preschool education for very young children.

As a champion for those in need, Open Doors and all of its employees and partners have a responsibility to ensure all clients have a path to success. This is achieved through a core belief system that acts as the foundation of the organization’s culture:

SAFETY: We provide a reliable haven, both in structure and in resources, to help the community’s most vulnerable find their way to something better. By creating a safe environment, we allow our clients the space and support to focus on their future.

DIGNITY: Every single individual who walks through our doors will be treated as a person that matters, and will be shown the respect they deserve.

ACCOUNTABILITY: We know that empowering our clients to own their own successes is the best way to support them on their journey. Our role is to be a guide and help them accomplish their goals and we seek partners who uphold the same ideals.

Open Doors is committed to providing best-in-class services to positively and permanently help those struggling with homelessness. To do so, services are focused in four influential areas:

1) Immediate Impact: through facilities focused on shelter, food, and support services that make it possible for individuals and families to rapidly move to their next safe destination,

2) Supportive Services through case management that help create a plan that suits each client’s needs and gets them to a sustainable solution,

3) Affordable and Deeply Affordable Housing Solutions to allow for ongoing stability of those transitioning out of homelessness.

4) Strategic Partnerships forming and managing strategic partnerships will become a core competency to accomplish our mission.

Open Doors had a significant impact on the lives of our clients and the community in FY22:
Homeless Prevention
• 1,370 individuals received 4,243 grocery bags through our food pantry.
• 643 individuals received 60,390 items of clothing through our community
• closet.
• 282 individuals were served through the Financial Opportunity Center resulting in:
• 95 obtaining employment,
• 129 increasing their income,
• 24 increasing their savings.
• 54,306 hot meals served to members of our community through our kitchen.
Homeless Service
• 149 individuals were provided shelter 81 individuals were housed.
• 99% of those who exited from the shelter did not become homeless again.
• 74 individuals living on the streets were enrolled in the homeless outreach program and provided case management services.
• 91% of the individuals enrolled in the homeless outreach program are no longer street homeless.
Housing Stability
Of those transitioning out of the shelter,
• 52 individuals were provided with ongoing case management to ensure housing retention.
• 24 received long-term case management 28 received short-term case management.
Open Doors operates eight buildings with 55 housing units.
• 63 individuals were supported with affordable housing units.

In addition, the National Alliance to End Homelessness has awarded ‘Gold Star’ status to Open Doors for multiple weeks in July and August for the greatest number of households placed in housing. Open Doors housed the most amount of people in Fairfield County. We are also the only organization that exceeded our goal.

2) On January 27, David Woll (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) visited Open Doors to learn more about our Smilow Life Center: David reports to HUD Secretary Ben Carson and plays an important role in HUD. David was extremely impressed with our Smilow business model and he commented that he and Secretary Carson wished more communities could take joint ownership in helping to stop homelessness.

3) Open Doors recently joined forces with the National Alliance to End Homelessness on an Emergency Shelter Learning Collaborative. The goal of the Collaborative is to challenge shelters to elevate their practice to national best practice by becoming housing-focused.

4) In its first two years of operation, more than 600 people have taken classes at the Smilow Life Center's Education and Job Training Center in order to learn new skills or build on their strengths. Now adapting another best practice in employment for homeless individuals, the Shelter recently developed a partnership with Career Resources to implement a job placement program using the nationally­ recognized Employment First model. The Employment First Job Placement Program increases community-based, integrated employment opportunities for those that are homeless. The goal of Open Doors' initiative is to work with shelter guests to become employed as quickly as possible to see a rapid exit from shelter.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on demographics (e.g., race, age, gender, etc.), We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive, We share the feedback we received with the people we serve, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback, We ask the people who gave us feedback how well they think we responded

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback


Open Doors

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


Connect with nonprofit leaders


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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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Connect with nonprofit leaders


Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

Open Doors

Board of directors
as of 02/12/2024
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board co-chair

Narendra Mulani

Board co-chair

Kersten Rivas

William (Bill) Burnham

Delta Capital Group

Robert (Bob) Genuario

State of Connecticut Judiciary

Martin Buccolo

Retired, Four Winds Hospital

Read Hubbard

Merrill Lynch

Melora Johnson

Gregory Kamedulski

Greg:Cornell Development

Rick Kleeman

Wheelock Street Capital

Nancy Meany

Curtis W. Stewart

Nuvance Health / Norwalk Hospital

Alex Tuff

Winged Keel Group

Jody Proct

Darien Sport Shop

Seth Birnbaum

Bridgewater Associates

Hugh Boyle


Sean Conk


Jeff Erdmann

Merrill Lynch

John Edenbach


Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 2/12/2024

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

Transgender Identity

Sexual orientation


Equity strategies

Last updated: 11/30/2020

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We analyze disaggregated data and root causes of race disparities that impact the organization's programs, portfolios, and the populations served.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We have a promotion process that anticipates and mitigates implicit and explicit biases about people of color serving in leadership positions.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.