Open Air Ministries is an ecumenical ministry of Christians in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, directed toward the Homeless.


The YMCA of the Capital Area began its Community Outreach Program in 2001.  A. C. Lewis YMCA Branch Professional Staff Person Ginger Ford asked for the opportunity to build and develop a Community Outreach Program directed at our city’s homeless population.  The YMCA, because of its Christian foundation and commitment to helping those in our community that are less fortunate, authorized and directed her to do so and created a new job position of Director of Community Outreach.

Ginger spent years deeply immersed in this critical new venture.  She developed relationships in and around the community that enabled the rapid development of the program.  Ginger identified the parking lot on the corner of 17th St. and Florida St. as an ideal location for the ministry.  This location is ideal as it is next door to the St. Vincent DePaul Kitchen, which is a significant draw for the people we are trying to reach.  Ginger recognized that while our homeless community needs food, toiletries, clothing, and other tangible items, which she did work to provide, she recognized that what they need more is community.  Because of her ability to meet tangible needs while also meeting spiritual and intangible needs, without judgment, Ginger built a level of trust with the homeless community that is the foundation for the work we are doing today.  The YMCA’s investment in that program and in our community through this program has truly changed countless lives.

The primary thrust of the YMCA Community Outreach Program over the years has been (and still is) the collection and distribution of clothing and toiletries.  Non-perishable food items, MREs and sleeping bags are also distributed when available.  Currently this is handled by YMCA volunteer, Pastor Joseph Moore.  All locations of the YMCA of the Capital Area have designated bins for collection of the items for distribution to the homeless.  Pastor Moore uses a YMCA van to travel to each Branch to pick up donated items and to visit our wonderful community partner the Baton Rouge Food Bank to get MREs, a lifeline for many of the area homeless.

There are many other needs and opportunities, including collecting donations of food, toiletries, and money, administrative support, helping individuals with special needs, and sharing about the program with other churches, groups, and individuals.

Open Air Ministries

Over the years, the YMCA has been a leader in program innovation and in responding to unmet needs.  The Organization founded Basketball, Volleyball, Fathers’ Day and a much, much more.  The Y was the forerunner to the USO and helped create the United Appeal which became the United Way in many communities. Locally, the YMCA of the Capital Area was an integral part of the founding of this strong local program -- Open Air Ministries.

In 2007, Ginger was inspired to see that the homeless who were part of the YMCA’s Community Outreach Program had an opportunity to worship on Easter Sunday.  The service was such a success, and met such a deep need for an opportunity to worship, that Ginger knew that it had to become a regular opportunity.

Open Air Ministries grew out of the Community Outreach Program of the A.C. Lewis YMCA and is an effort whose aim is to provide for spiritual growth and development for the homeless in and around downtown Baton Rouge.  It is a cooperative endeavor between the following Baton Rouge area organizations:

  • University Baptist Church
  • St. Andrews United Methodist Church
  • First Presbyterian Church
  • Broadmoor United Methodist Church
  • The Capital Area YMCA
  • St. Vincent DePaul
  • Christ Covenant Church
  • Faith Presbyterian Church
  • Humble Beginnings Church