Busting the Myths about Opportunity House and Homelessness

In the heart of Reading, PA, Opportunity House stands as a beacon of hope and support for individuals and families experiencing homelessness. Unfortunately, there are several misconceptions surrounding our organization that we’d like to address and clarify. By dispelling these myths, we hope to provide a deeper understanding of the impactful work we do to uplift the lives of those in need.

Myth #1: The Homeless Do Not Work

The number one myth is that those experiencing homelessness do not work. However, the reality is quite different. Did you know that over 40% of our shelter residents are gainfully employed? At Opportunity House, we understand the importance of sustainable employment in the journey to rebuilding lives.

For some of our clients, this might be their first job in years, while for others, it’s the key to securing safe and stable living conditions. To support our working clients, we provide brown bag lunches and bottled water, ensuring that they have sustenance throughout the day. Our commitment extends to our dinner meal, frequently prepared and served by dedicated volunteers at 7 pm, specifically to accommodate those who are employed.

Myth #2: Clients Sit Idle in the Shelter all Day

We’ve just busted the myth that the homeless do not work and so what do the clients who aren’t working do all day at Opportunity House?  Our clients are required to participate in the SMILE program—Skills to Master Independent Living and Empowerment. This comprehensive program equips individuals with vital life skills, including personal hygiene, cooking, organization, and stress management. This proactive approach ensures that individuals are empowered with essential skills that can significantly contribute to their journey back to independence. Clients also help maintain the shelter by cleaning the kitchen after meals, sweeping the day area, as well as other jobs while they are staying at the shelter.

Myth #3: The Second Street Learning Center is Only for Children at the Shelter

Another common misconception surrounds our Second Street Learning Center. Contrary to what many believe, the Learning Center does not only serve the children from the emergency shelter. Our Keystone 4-star quality education center is accessible to students from more than 17 different schools in the Reading School District and other surrounding areas impacting over 200 children annually. The Second Street Learning Center plays a pivotal role in providing a nurturing educational environment for children in need throughout our community.

Myth #4: Unsold OppShop Donations Go to Waste

A common misconception is that items not sold at OppShop or not directly donated to the homeless shelter are discarded. The truth is far more environmentally conscious. Opportunity House is committed to sustainability, diverting over 1 million pounds of clothing, books, DVDs, knick-knacks, and CDs from landfills through our innovative Reuse and Recycle program. This initiative ensures that items that might otherwise go to waste find new life, reducing our ecological footprint significantly.  Please check our list here to find out what items are accepted.

Bridging the Gap of Understanding

As we debunk these myths, we hope to bridge the gap between perception and reality when it comes to Opportunity House. Our organization is fueled by compassion, commitment, and the belief that every individual deserves a chance to rebuild their life, no matter their circumstances. Through sustainable employment support, educational excellence, comprehensive life skill programs, and eco-friendly initiatives, we are actively working to make a positive impact on the lives of those we serve.

By dispelling these misconceptions, we invite you to join us in creating a community that understands, supports, and uplifts individuals and families experiencing homelessness. Your contributions, whether in the form of donations, volunteering, or advocacy, play a crucial role in transforming lives and making our vision of a better tomorrow a reality

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Opportunity House Empowering Lives Since 1984

Since our inception in 1984, Opportunity House has provided emergency shelter to those experiencing homelessness. Operating as a 501(c)3 organization, we are dedicated to empowering individuals and families to improve their lives, regardless of the challenges they face. Our commitment goes beyond providing a roof overhead; it extends to fostering a supportive community and equipping individuals with the tools they need to reintegrate into society with dignity and confidence.




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