Opp charity asks county for help

Published 11:59 pm Monday, November 9, 2009

Several Opp residents are working to make improvements at a local women’s and children’s shelter, and on Monday, they gave that same “opportunity” to commissioners.

WAMI’s Harry Phillips addressed commissioners about the situation facing Opp’s Opportunity House, the Opp-based domestic violence shelter, which serves Covington, Conecuh and Monroe counties and 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.

“When people are abused, they begin to feel like it’s their fault,” Phillips said. “They begin to feel worthless and worry more and more about not only their future but the welfare of their children. That’s where Opportunity House comes in. They provide a roof, a place to sleep and food. They also provide counseling, both emotional and practical, and try to reassure (clients) of their worth. The staff there does the best with what resources they have.”

Phillips said for the past several months, his station has requested donations of food, over-the-counter cold and flu medicine, toiletries and cleaning supplies.

“We’ve just asked for some of the basic necessities you need to keep a home going, and the response has been overwhelming,” he said.

However, Phillips said that once he arrived to deliver the donations he was “disturbed at the living conditions” at the shelter.

“The furniture is mismatched and broken down,” he said. “There is only a claw foot bathtub and no shower. The sinks and cabinets are antiquated. Instead of bunk beds or something more suitable, children are sleeping in the bed with their mothers.”

He said there is also no suitable study area or entertaining diversions for the children.

Phillips said at least five area businesses have committed to help renovate the shelter — Deidra Laird of Deidra’s Designs has agreed to re-design the shelter’s interior to “feel warmer, safer and more cheerful;” Scotty Short of Scotty Short Construction has offered his company’s time and expertise to make those renovations; Hawthorne Cabinets of Kinston has pledged help; Barrow Furniture has agreed to donate furniture; and Cooperative Propane has agreed to donate appliances.

Phillips said he understood the county’s financial situation but hoped commissioners would agree to lend assistance in updating the facility. Commissioners thanked Phillips for his time and dedication to the organization but did not immediately offer any assistance.

Commissioner Harold Elmore said he would broach the subject with his church family at Judson Baptist Church to see how they might assist in the project.

In other business, the commission:

announced it is against the law for the county to dig pits on hunting club property for the disposal of deer carcasses.

approved a retail beer license for Blue Lake Grocery.