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Featured: Employee Spotlight: Cynthia Brown

Posted on Thursday, November 02, 2017
By: Julia VanTine
Categories: Spotlights

Her formal job title is “receptionist,” but no one here thinks of Cynthia that way. Almost as soon as she arrived here in 2013, as an AARP volunteer, she was ready to take on bigger things. “Just answering phones seemed boring--after a few weeks, I asked if there was anything else I could help with,” says the Reading native.Oh yes. There was. And in 2014, she went from...

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Tagged:Spotlight, Employee

Client Spotlight: Maria Torres

Posted on Thursday, November 02, 2017
By: Julia VanTine
Categories: Spotlights

Drugs didn’t break her. Nor did a tumultuous relationship or a health scare. Smart and articulate, Maria is a survivor. It just took her a minute to find her stride. Maria, 43, grew up in Reading with her mother and two sisters. When she was 26, her mother passed away, “and that was the beginning of my drug spiral.” She started smoking marijuana and progressed to harder...

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Tagged:Spotlight, Client Success

From Angry Kid to Goal-Driven Man

Posted on Friday, September 29, 2017
By: Julia VanTine
Categories: Spotlights

Growing up in Brooklyn, 30-year-old Marquis Solomon had smarts and a large, stable family. But months before his ninth birthday, his father passed away. The loss left this bright little boy with a sense of abandonment that turned to rage. “I felt that I hadn’t had enough time with him,” says Marquis. Even his strong family unit couldn’t ease...

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Tagged:Client Success

Bonnie Smith Balances Our Books, New Job, New Life

Posted on Friday, September 29, 2017
By: Julia VanTine
Categories: Spotlights

Bonita Jo “Bonnie” Smith moved to Berks County from Chester County this summer.  Along with a new home, the accountant embraced a new challenge: keeping the books for a non-profit organization. Having worked for a local township, her new position “is a challenge, but a fun one,” she says.
Outside of work, Bonnie spends family time with DJ, her...

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Tagged:Employee

For Our Kids in the Women’s Shelter, a Back to School Bonanza

Posted on Friday, September 29, 2017
By: Julia VanTine
Categories: Spotlights

For most kids, September means sharp new clothes, backpacks, and supplies. Thanks to our two local benefactors Jennifer Dinatally and Lauren Swartz, our kids in the Women’s Shelter hit the classroom in style. Jennifer,
a realtor at United Real Estate—Strive 212 in Wyomissing gathered the goodies with a friend, with “colleagues, friends and other co-conspirators...

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Tagged:Volunteer

All About OppHouse - Rachel Arndt, Director, Supportive Services for Veteran Families

Posted on Thursday, March 16, 2017
By: Opportunity House
Categories: Spotlights

Rachael Arndt always wanted to be involved with helping the homeless. She said that she believes "everyone should have a home to call their own." As the program director for Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF), Rachael has achieved her goal of making an impact by becoming directly involved with ending homelessness. Rachael began at Opportunity House as an intern (as a matter of...

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Tagged:Profile

All About OppHouse Rachel Arndt, Part 2

Posted on Thursday, March 16, 2017
By: Opportunity House
Categories: Spotlights


Michael Williams, a Schuylkill County native, stayed at Opportunity House for six weeks. "That place is great," Williams exclaimed when asked about his experience. He admits that he had no idea what to expect, but when he arrived he realized it was different from previous experiences.  It was not long before SSVF had set him up with an apartment. "At first, it was very empty,"...

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Tagged:Profile

OppShop Offers Opportunities and Answered Prayers

Posted on Thursday, February 16, 2017
By: Opportunity House
Categories: Spotlights

After living in Virginia for over 12 years, Sheila Wiswesser moved back to her hometown of Reading, Pennsylvania. Things were different when she came back, more businesses had closed, and it was an everyday struggle to find a job. Frustrated with the lack of jobs available, Sheila recalls looking through the newspaper and pleading, "Just give me the opportunity to prove myself." At that moment,...

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Tagged:Profile

A Souper-Bowl Full Of Success

Posted on Tuesday, February 14, 2017
By: Opportunity House
Categories: Spotlights

By: Jami Gresh  This year’s Souper Bowl was the most successful to date with a crowd of over 400 people. The annual event, which raises funds for the Opportunity House and raises awareness of homelessness and hunger in our area, allows local restaurants to feature their signature soup while guests test-taste the soups and vote for their favorites. The lucky restaurant that wins first...

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Tagged:Spotlight

President's Letter

Posted on Tuesday, February 14, 2017
By: Opportunity House
Categories: Spotlights

Dear Friends,This year we have much to be thankful for and many people to thank. We had a high school group called Berks Youth in Action raise $19,000 through their Rave Dance that 500 students attended. Steve Moyer Subaru raised $21,155 for us through their Share the Love Campaign and donated 20 laptop computers for the Second Street Learning and Technology Center. Our new event, Wine Women and...

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Tagged:Spotlight

New Year, New Hope!

Posted on Tuesday, January 10, 2017
By: Kate Alley
Categories: Spotlights

Shelly Murphy, Case Management Director who has worked at Opportunity House for 17 years explained, "I think its in my blood, I've always liked to help people and never liked bullying." Shelly regularly spends time with her clients after work drinking coffee on the porch and we joined them recently to learn more about their stories and their connection to Opportunity House. Charles is a veteran...

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Tagged:Profile

Using Healthcare to Give Back to Community

Posted on Thursday, December 01, 2016
By: Opportunity House
Categories: Spotlights

Using Healthcare to Give Back to Community By: Travis HoshauerIn July of 2016, the Berks Community Health Center opened its doors to the community on the second floor of Opportunity House. Lisa Gooch, a Nurse Manager at Berks Community Health Center, oversees the daily operations of the clinic and takes care of patients. Alongside her job at Berks Community Health Center, Gooch also volunteers...

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Tagged:Volunteer

Client Success Profile:

Posted on Thursday, November 17, 2016
By: Opportunity House
Categories: Spotlights

Success Story: Timmica AlexanderTimmica Alexander, mother of five, currently works at the Warehouse for OppShop. Alexander currently resides in a transitional housing unit across the street from Opportunity House. Alexander said, "[Opportunity House] helped me get back on my feet, I lost everything. It helped me financially, mentally, and physically. It gave me a fresh start." Timmica is...

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Tagged:Client Success

Cuts For A Cause

Posted on Monday, November 14, 2016
By: Angela Cremer
Categories: Spotlights

    This past August, one of our residents, Monica, told our Marketing and Development Coordinator, Kristen Orgera, that they would most enjoy it if we could plan a spa day for the women in our shelter. This planted a seed that has since sprouted thanks to Orgera and the help of two Communications interns from Albright College, Travis Hoshauer and Emily...

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Tagged:Volunteer, Cuts For A Cause

RACCy Olympics Partners with Opportunity House

Posted on Monday, October 17, 2016
By: Opportunity House
Categories: Spotlights

Every year, Reading Area Community College, otherwise known as RACC, holds RACCy Olympics in order to raise money for a local organization. The idea behind RACCy Olympics is to "learn through service" and assist the college’s local community "through fundraising efforts." In accordance with every prior year, RACC has chosen to partner with Opportunity House for 2016-17. Opportunity House,...

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Tagged:Spotlight

Knitting Together Friendships, Volunteer Spotlight: Bev Sanders

Posted on Monday, October 17, 2016
By: Opportunity House
Categories: Spotlights

Bev Sanders, of Hamburg, PA has been knitting since her mother taught her when she was a child. Bev has been donating her time to Opportunity House since 2012. Sanders began volunteering at Opportunity House after she visited with a group from her hometown. After visiting with that group, Ms. Nancy, asked her if she would be interested volunteering with the children in the Second Street...

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Tagged:Second Street Learning Center, Volunteer, Spotlight, Profile

Success Spotlight: Second Street Learning Center parent, Mariangel Sanchez

Posted on Thursday, September 15, 2016
By: Kate Alley
Categories: Spotlights

When Mariangel Sanchez started as a bank teller in Reading with two small children she researched daycare centers and there were only one or two that had late hours and took infants. "The training classes I needed to take to develop my career required me to travel to Philadelphia or Allentown and I couldn't get home until  6 or 7." When she visited Second Street Learning...

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Tagged:Client Success

The Swartz Family-A Family Devoted to Giving Back and Working Together

Posted on Thursday, September 15, 2016
By: Opportunity House
Categories: Spotlights

A number of years ago Lauren Swartz, an elementary school teacher, mother, and wife, had an idea to create and donate what she calls "Birthday Boxes" to families who could not afford to celebrate their children’s birthdays in a big way. Lauren sought out Opportunity House where she was able to get in contact with one of our hard working Team members, Kathy. After brainstorming the idea a...

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Tagged:Volunteer

Memorable Event Creates More Memories for Children

Posted on Tuesday, August 09, 2016
By: Angela Cremer
Categories: Spotlights

Thanks to the women who generously donated during the Cash Call portion of our inaugural Wine, Women and Shoes event, which took place this past May at the new DoubleTree Hotel by Hilton, 65 kids from our Second Street Learning Center were able to enjoy a variety of fun and educational trips to local attractions. Destinations ranged from the Kutztown Folk Festival and...

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Tagged:Second Street Learning Center

Volunteer Spotlight: Leah Carter's Family

Posted on Monday, August 08, 2016
By: Opportunity House
Categories: Spotlights

Ten-year-old Leah Carter along with her mother Heather, contacted Opportunity House a few weeks ago about wanting to serve lunch to our residents. Each week we have generous volunteer groups come to the shelter and donate their time and energy by serving meals. However, Leah’s story is extra special. Earlier this summer, Leah and her mother had an experience with a homeless person in the...

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Tagged:Volunteer, Spotlight, Profile

Client Success Story: Jeremy Winchester

Posted on Monday, August 08, 2016
By: Opportunity House
Categories: Spotlights

Six years ago, Jeremy Winchester, a 29-year-old from Reading, Pennsylvania, found himself homeless with no place to go. "They just kind of picked me up off my feet," Winchester remarks about his time at Opportunity House. Winchester took shelter at Opportunity House for a year while he worked to get himself back on his feet. He found himself helping out in the kitchen, picking up donations and...

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Tagged:Spotlight, Profile, Client Success

Volunteer Spotlight: Maria Lilley

Posted on Tuesday, June 28, 2016
By: Opportunity House
Categories: Spotlights

Starting when Maria was a seventh grader, sixteen-year-old Maria Lilley has been designing, creating and selling hand crafted cards to family, friends and community members. Her inspiration and motivation behind such an artistic venture began when she first visited Opportunity House many years ago with her preschool teacher, Susan Harenza. For the past five years, Maria has used the...

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Tagged:Volunteer, Spotlight, Profile

Volunteer Spotlight: The Gerace Siblings

Posted on Tuesday, June 28, 2016
By: Angela Cremer
Categories: Spotlights

At the end of last summer, Forbes’ contributor Nicole Leinbach-Reyhle reported that some parents were spending more than $1,000 dollars on back to school supplies. If you ask Matthew Gerace, a rising tenth grader at Lancaster Country Day School, spending this large sum of money is unnecessary. “I remember when I was in sixth grade, and I would see different people just throwing...

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Tagged:Volunteer, Spotlight, Profile

Internship Insights II: Finding an internship and successful interviewing tips

Posted on Friday, April 01, 2016
By: Opportunity House
Categories: Spotlights

Finding an internship can be stressful and oftentimes a little overwhelming. However, for most degrees they are required and are a great way to gain useful, real-world knowledge that can be applied to future jobs. We’ve
compiled some of our own advice for finding, landing and being successful in the perfect internship for you.Finding an internship:•Utilize your...

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Tagged:Intern Insights

Internship Insights

Posted on Monday, February 15, 2016
By: Opportunity House
Categories: Spotlights

Hello everyone! We are the new Public Relations/Special Event interns for Opportunity House who will be working on projects involving OppShop and upcoming special events. Over the course of this semester we will be writing about our time here and what we learn along the way in hopes of helping future interns. Here is a little bit about us:
My name is Erin. I am currently...

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Tagged:Intern Insights

Client Profile: John Grundowski

Posted on Thursday, January 21, 2016
By: Angela Cremer
Categories: Spotlights

      John Grundowski, age 54, is a lifelong resident of Berks County. At the age of 9, Grundowski and his eight siblings lost their mother to cancer, and he and his youngest brother spent the rest of their childhood in foster homes and child care. Grundowski attended both Central Catholic and Muhlenberg school districts. Although he has been a...

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Tagged:Spotlight, Profile, Client Success

Volunteer Spotlight: Santo Ferrarello

Posted on Thursday, January 14, 2016
By: Angela Cremer
Categories: Spotlights

      Santo Ferrarello was born in Sicily, Italy and moved to America in 1954 when he was seven. He describes himself as a "city kid from Philadelphia." In 1972, Santo moved to Reading to work for Gilbert Associates, which is now Worley Parsons on Route 10. It was here that he met his wife, Ann. Today, he and his wife have two sons and find great pleasure in watching...

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Tagged:Second Street Learning Center, Volunteer, Spotlight



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Opportunity House

430 North 2nd Street
Reading, PA 19601

Phone: (610) 374.4696
Fax: (610) 374.3165

Email: info@opphouse.org

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