‘House’ gets $13K from stimulus

Published 11:59 pm Friday, July 17, 2009

Opportunity House was awarded $13,172 in economic stimulus money by Gov. Bob Riley’s office Wednesday.

The Opp-based domestic violence shelter, which serves Covington, Conecuh and Monroe counties, will use the grant for emergency shelter and other services for victims and their children. The funding supplements two grants totaling $72,309 awarded by Riley last fall.

“We need to ensure that professional assistance remains available to domestic violence victims during these challenging economic times,” Riley said. “I commend the staff of the Opportunity House for offering compassionate assistance to victims.”

The organization offers a 24-hour crisis telephone line, individual and group counseling and transportation for victims. Staff members also develop case management plans for each adult resident and provide court advocates for clients who prepare and support victims during legal proceedings.

The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs is administering the grant from funds made available by the U.S. Justice Department as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act signed by President Obama earlier this year.

Riley notified Nikki Harris, president of the organization’s board, that the grant had been approved. Matching funds of $3,293 will supplement the award.

Deborah Hooks, Opportunity House director, said the money will help “tremendously” as the shelter operates solely on grant funds and donations.

“I have to say we’re struggling in this economy, and this money will help us tremendously in providing the level of staffing we need to provide services to our clients,” Hooks said. “This specific money is designated for staff retention and will be used to supplement salaries of two staff members.”

Hooks said the agency has also applied for approximately six other grants this year, including one for operational funds and other stimulus money that would allow the shelter to house homeless people. No word has been received on those awards as of yet, she said.

“We have spent all summer applying for everything we could find,” she said. “We hope this is first of many great funding announcements for Opportunity House.”

Hooks said the shelter is currently accepting donations of school supplies and food.

Drop-off locations are at WAAO in Andalusia and WAMI in Opp. For more information, call 334-493-2320 or 208-6767.