Dothan shelter to provide services

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Opportunity House board members mum on future

As members of the Opportunity House board of directors sort out the domestic violence shelter’s future, the executive director of the Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence said in a letter last week that area agencies will provide emergency services to local victims.

In August, it was announced that Opportunity House was closing because of a lack of funding. But earlier this month, The Star-News reported the Covington County District Attorney’s has been asked to investigate the shelter’s financial dealings. The request was made after board members determined excessive payroll and mileage checks for two shelter employees and credit card purchases – such as six Alabama football tickets and five Auburn tickets – contributed to a more than $200,000 expense deficit in 2008-2011.

Members of the Opportunity House board met Friday, but on Monday, president Nikki Harris said members would not make any statements about the organization’s future.

Meanwhile, victims in the three counties served by Opportunity House – Covington, Conecuh and Monroe – are being directed to Houston and Baldwin Counties.

“It is a core principal of the Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence (ACADV) that services will be available to victims and survivors in all 67 Alabama counties, and as soon as we became aware that Opportunity House would close, we began to discuss an expansion of service areas with neighboring shelters,” wrote Carol Gundlach, ACADV executive director.

Gundlach said The House of Ruth, headquartered in Dothan, will provide shelter and other services to victims of domestic and sexual violence in Covington County. Victims can access services by calling a 24-hour crisis line at either 334.793.2232 or 1.800.650.6522.

The Lighthouse, headquartered in Baldwin County, will provide services to victims of domestic and sexual violence in Conecuh and Monroe counties. Victims can access services by calling either 251.947.6008 or 1.800.650.6522.

Landline calls to the 800-number will be automatically routed to the domestic violence shelter serving the county from which the call was placed.

Gundlach said that over the next few months, both shelters will work with ACADV to expand the in-county services they provide in Covington, Conecuh and Monroe counties.

At a minimum, she said, domestic violence services for low-income families will be available under ACADV’s SAIL contract with the Alabama Department of Human Resources.