In 1993, as a member of Leaderhip Berks (a training group preparng volunteers to serve on not-for-profit boards), I first visited Opportunity House. At the time, it was known as the Reading Emergency Shelter.
I was touched by the compassion and determination of the staff in trying to meet the needs of the homeless.
I have served as a board member almost continuously since the. Opportunity House has grown to a full service agency, providing food, shelter, training, case management, child care,heath care and housing for men, women and children.
Without this agency, people would be living and dying on the streets. With it, people are fed, sheltered, clothed and given a "hand up" toward better lives
Review from Guidestar
Opportunity House is one of the best examples of how a non-profit should run. If a person finds themselves in a homeless situation, and wants to change their circumstances, this is the place for them. At Opportunity House, they don't just have people come and go, using the shelter like a hotel. Opportunity House has counselors for each person, providing referrals and support to them as an individual. Because of this, people aren't pidgeon-holed into a shelter situation. They are helped to become independant citizens of our community, once again. This is just one of the many facets of Opportunity House.
Additionally, Opportunity House's Second Street Learning Center provides 24/7 child care for over 300 children. This gives parents who do not have traditional 8:00 - 5:00 jobs the flexibility to take shifts that one normally couldn't have with other child care facilities. In a city like Reading, where there are many more businesses who require 3 shifts, it is imperative that parents have an alternative.
The Children's Alliance Center is another tremendous component to Opportunity House's programs. The CAC provides a safe environment for children and their families, where the child is able to tell their story one time. In the past, childrent would need to tell the physician at the hospital, the police, the DA, a social worker and any other number of people that are there to ensure all the procedures are covered. At the CAC, the child is interviewed by one person, while the other pertinent people watch from another room on closed circuit TV. One may ask "How vital is this program? How often is it utilized?" The sad answer is, since it's doors opened in 2004, the CAC has served over 800 children (per www.opphouse.org).
As a volunteer, it is a pleasure to work with the employees of Opportunity House. Because of their professionalism, commitment to their mission, and the difference they have made in the community, volunteering is easy. Most of Opportunity House's committees have people on them for years, making them a well-oiled machine. It never ceases to amaze me the number of people who will volunteer to make meals for the residents of the shelter, from church groups, scouts, businesses from the community and individuals, knowing they are making a difference.
This organization is a family, and I am glad to be an extended part of it!
Review from Guidestar