Opportunity House clients share in their own words the journey from homelessness to securing stable housing. Each person’s story is unique and gives a glimpse into the challenges and successes clients experience each day at Opportunity House.
My name is not important. Yet my story is, and how the Opportunity House helped me change my life to be the person I am today.
It was the year 2004, although I was here a couple of years prior, I lived in Philly, and my life was in shambles. Running the streets of Kensington, Pennsylvania on heroin. This was my drug of choice, and when I didn’t do drugs, I was drinking and in and out of jail. I was homeless and breaking into stores at night just trying to keep my addictions going, it was a vicious cycle. I knew it was consuming me, and then I contracted the AIDS virus. I was too scared to live and too chicken to die. Jail was my only choice to save my life, and so it happened. I didn’t want to go back to jail, so I came to Reading, PA. That is when Opportunity House came into my life and helped me save it. The staff understood me before I knew myself, and they dared to love me, and they did not know me from a can of paint. And that is when I gave back from my heart. Yes, I was in and out of the Opportunity House. Yet every time I came back, I gave back too. It’s twenty years later, and I can say it’s time to move on. I can never forget the house of opportunities, and how it has changed my life. And I’ve seen how they helped others worse than myself be transformed. Walking out of here with their heads held up high. Now more than ever homelessness is worse than ever, and I see it for myself. The Opportunity House needs to grow. Because humanity needs an opportunity to become human again. My name is Sunny*, and this is how Opportunity House saved my life, and it can do it for others as well.
*name changed to protect confidentiality
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About Opportunity House
Since 1984, Opportunity House provides emergency shelter in Berks County, Pennsylvania for over 500 men, women, children, and Veterans who have nowhere else to turn. Clients receive 3 meals, access to showers, and access to laundry facilities. Each client receives personalized case management services. Clients who are Veterans are connected to the local VA hospitals which provide additional support and resources to help homeless Veterans become stably housed. Our Skills Mastery for Independent Living and Empowerment (S.M.I.L.E Program) provides life skills to clients to give them the tools they need for their long-term success. Skills include budgeting, conflict resolution, stress management, cooking, healthy eating, personal hygiene, self-care, job search skills, resume building, and landlord-tenant rights.
The Second Street Learning Center provides Keystone 4-Star quality early childhood education for over 200 children each year. Students and parents are actively involved in the programming to create life-long learners. Students range in age from 6 weeks to 13 years old with classrooms designed to meet the needs of every age group and grade level. Our summer camp provides a much-needed service to working parents during the summer months.
Our Reuse & Recycle program creates jobs for formerly homeless clients. Our warehouse sorts, and separates donations, and recycles items that are unsaleable. OppShop, our retail thrift store, provides affordable household items and clothing for the community. Located at 3045 5th Street Highway, OppShop accepts donations at the rear of the store. The Reue & Recycle program will divert over 1 million pounds of product from landfills this year.