Our History

History

Agency Background

Since first opening its doors to the homeless in November 1984, the shelter has witnessed a dramatic change in the population it serves. We originally opened as a facility where homeless men could get off the street on a cold night and receive a hot meal and a warm place to sleep. The shelter is now a 24 hour multi-service facility that improves the quality of life for men, women and children who are in need. Today, we also achieve our mission through additional services, which include the Second Street Learning Center,  OppShop, our retail thrift store and our Reuse & Recycle Program that reduces landfill waste.

Opportunity House Timeline

1984

Opportunity House starts as an outreach of local churches that utilize church basements to provide a warm meal and a safe place to sleep.

1986

The permanent location of Opportunity House is purchased and renovated at 430 N 2nd St. (former battery warehouse).

1994

Services are added to teach independence (lifeskills classes, money management, case management).

1996

  • Extended case management for families and individuals after they leave Opportunity House is added.
  • With the help of United Way, Second Street Learning Center opens as a daytime program for up to 18 kids.

1997

Second Street Learning Center expands by adding 2nd Shift care and can accommodate up to 63 children per shift.

1998

  • Second Street Learning Center adds 3rd Shift care.
  • Long-term transitional housing opens as a two-year program with four apartments.

1999

Permanent housing becomes available in two houses for up to eight single adults with disabilities.

2000

  • Second Street Learning Center adds weekend care and student transportation to and from Reading, Mt. Penn and Muhlenberg elementary and middle schools, becoming the only 24/7 community childcare center in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
  • Second Street Beech Playground opens for the childcare, shelter and neighbors.

2011

The Technology Center at the Second Street Learning Center, a ‘green’ LEED certified structure, opens its doors. Each child enrolled here has access to a laptop computer for homework and to learn new skills.

2014

Opportunity House celebrates 30 years of providing services to Berks County, and the CAC celebrates 10 years of service in Berks County. To kick off these milestones, a birthday party is held in our Technology Center/Neag Gymnasium. Clients, staff, donors and volunteers who attended received a meal prepared and served by our Board of Directors. In December 2014, a gala was held at the Crowne Plaza in Wyomissing. Over $160,000 was raised, and a new van was purchased for the Second Street Learning Center with some of this money.

 
SUCCESS STORY

Surrendering Chaos and Confusion for a New and Hopeful Future

Chaos was a staple in the household where Richard grew up. From an early age, he remembers being called a bad kid. From taking too many baby aspirin, to starting a fire at his home and significantly injuring a relative, Richard knew he wasn’t an ordinary kid. The oldest of four siblings, Richard lived on […]