Opp charity receives $20K grant

Published 11:34 pm Monday, September 29, 2008

Opp’s Opportunity House has been chosen as one of 150 nationwide grant recipients by the Mary Kay Ash Charitable Foundation to combat domestic violence.

The $20,000 grant announced Monday by MKACF will be used to cover operational expenses for the shelter and was a portion of $3 million awarded nationwide.

Opportunity House, Inc., a domestic violence program serving, Covington, Conecuh and Monroe counties, provides help to families while they are in the shelter as well as when they leave to start new lives.

And the grant funds couldn’t have come at a better time, according to OH’s executive director Deborah Hooks.

“You don’t know what a blessing (this money) is,” Hooks said. “We’ve been told by the state that they’re going to cut our funding by 17 percent, so really, this money is going keep the shelter going.

“The problem of domestic violence in Opp isn’t going away and neither is the need for funding,” she said. “Programs to help battered women and their children require a lot of resources. We’re grateful that the Mary Kay Ash Charitable Foundation is stepping up to the plate in helping us help families in Opp.”

Hooks said the shelter is currently operating at full capacity.

“With the reduction in funding, we’ve lost six employees during the year,” she said. “And right now, we have a full house and have been all year long.”

During the last year, OH has served 264 women from all three counties; participants logged more than 1,400 nights in the shelter over the course of a year, and employees have spent more than 2,000 direct client hours — one on one — with OH clients.

It’s clients like those served by Opportunity House and others nationwide that prompted the foundation to provide these grant funds.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), domestic violence affects 1 in every 4 women in the United States. Nationally:

The cost of intimate partner violence exceeds $5.8 billion each year, 4.1 billion of which is for direct medical and mental health services;

Boys who witness domestic violence are twice as likely to abuse their own partners and children when they become adults;

84 percent of spousal abuse victims are female.

The statistics in Alabama are just as startling. According to the NCADV, there were:

26,051 domestic assaults in 2005.

57,176 shelter nights provided for adults and children in Alabama shelters in fiscal year 2006.

17,081 crisis calls to the Alabama Domestic Violence Hotline in fiscal year 2006.

“Opportunity House, Inc has helped so many women and their families in the Opp area, “ said Jennifer Cook, MKACF board member.

“We know they will use these funds to benefit even more domestic violence survivors and their children,” Cook said. “Mary Kay Ash wanted her foundation to help enrich women’s lives. All the tragic stories and statistics we hear about domestic violence encourage us to do our part.

“We know Opportunity House will use these funds to stop domestic violence, and proved help and hope to battered women and children in the Opp area,” she said.