Our Stories

Our Mission

Opportunity House changes lives by educating, housing, feeding, and empowering people to stand on their own feet.

The adults and children served by Opportunity House, located in Reading, Pennsylvania, have varied needs. Some are homeless, but the majority are not. Commonalities that link nearly all of the families and individuals we help are:

  • They are labeled as “low-income” or “living below the poverty level” by government standards.
  • At the most basic level, they are in a day-to-day struggle to provide for themselves and their families.

Testimonials

Check out our video and series, Faces of Opportunity, to hear stories about how Opportunity House not only positively impacts the clients we serve but our staff who help them. More stories will be added to this series in the near future.

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, the Children’s Alliance Center, the Supportive Services for Veteran Families, and our growing Reuse & Recycle Program.

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).

1997

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

1999

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

2001

  • Infant childcare opens and the Second Street Learning Center is licensed for 108 children per shift. Nearly 250 children are now enrolled. 
  • Short-term housing for families becomes available.
  • Reading Health Dispensary, operated by the Reading Hospital and Medical Center, opens in December to meet primary health care needs of clients and neighborhood residents.

2010

  • The CAC moves to 4th and Washington Streets in downtown Reading.

2012

In October, the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) opens in partnership with and through a grant from The Veteran’s Administration. This program assists veterans and their families who are at risk of becoming homeless. SSVF offices are located in Berks, Schuylkill and Lancaster Counties (partnering with Tabor in Lancaster, PA).

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.

1998

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

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.

2004

The Children’s Alliance Center (CAC) is made available. The CAC partners with the District Attorney’s office, police departments throughout Berks County, Children & Youth Services, Berks Women in Crisis and other organizations to secure the safety of the children in need.

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.