Mazda honors director of Owosso’s Homeless Angels shelter

Director Shelly Ochodnicky hasn’t just helped those in need get into housing, her tireless efforts reach beyond her day job.
Published: Dec. 22, 2020 at 5:58 PM EST
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OWOSSO, Mich. (WJRT) - (12/22/2020) - Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, people in our communities have stepped up in extraordinary ways.

In Shiawassee County, the homeless shelter’s director hasn’t just helped those in need get into housing, her tireless efforts reach beyond her day job.

And, one major company is honoring her hard work.

Shelly Ochodnicky runs the Homeless Angels shelter in downtown Owosso.

Her sister-in-law, Dawn Ochodnicky, heard about the Mazda Heroes contest while watching Good Morning America. Knowing Shelly was the perfect fit, she created a video to nominate her.

In it she shares, “Shelly has worked tirelessly to help the homeless community for the past 14 years. First working to open a warming center, passing out meals and supplies; and after years of hard work, and many obstacles, was able to open a 6,000 square foot homeless shelter in October of 2019 that has been a lifeline to many people.”

You can imagine it’s been difficult operating a shelter that runs strictly on donations during the pandemic. But Ochodnicky never stopped.

She even extended her services by hand-delivering much-needed items to people’s porches.

And when the floods happened in May, Ochodnicky helped organize a caravan bringing diapers and supplies to Midland and Sanford.

“It’s because our community is still giving that we had the supplies, we have the warehouse. And so it was great to be able to do that,” Shelly Ohodnicky explained.

But, she is the reason it happened.

Her grit and tireless dedication to others are why Mazda chose her as one of their heroes.

“I hurried up and had to call my sister in law, and she cried tears of joy. And we were just both astonished,” Ochodnicky said.

The program selected just 50 people from across the country who have overcome obstacles, while putting their community first during one of our most challenging years.

The winners receive a brand new Mazda MX-5 Miata.

“I think most people that work in the service industry, if you will, of caring for others, don’t expect anything back; but it’s been a great humbling experience, and just been fun to go through during such a challenging time,” Ochodnicky said.

She added the title is already in her name and Mazda gave her a check to cover the taxes, too.

“They really thought this out. They didn’t want it to be a burden on the people that received it. So Mazda has really gone above and beyond.”

It’s appreciation for her doing the same.

The Homeless Angels organization also is making a major contribution to another group of people hit hard by the pandemic: Restaurant servers. The group is raising $500,000 in a campaign dubbed “serving those that serve us.”

The goal is to give 1,000 servers across the state a $500 tip. As more money is raised, the group is accepting names to register to receive one of these grants.

Click here to nominate a waiter or waitress for the program.

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