ENVISION OPELIKA FOUNDATION, INC.
Executive Summary, October 1, 2020 – September 30, 2021
Tom Tippett, executive director
Barbara Patton, executive treasurer
Board Members and Officers:
Sally Phillips, chair
JArthur Grubbs, vice chair
Doc Dorsey, secretary
The Envision Opelika Foundation, Inc., is a nonprofit organization that works toward improving the quality of life for all residents of the community through its citizens, organizations, and community partners.
ANNUAL REPORT FOR SOUTHSIDE CENTER FOR THE ARTS
Submitted by Barbara Patton
Renovations and improvements continued through the generous contributions of several organizations. The City of Opelika put in a handicap ramp and parking on the south end of the building, installed an exterior sign, and laid concrete paving in the courtyard. Façade lighting fixtures on the front of the building were generously installed by R&R Landscaping. The Alabama State Council on the Arts awarded $30,000 to renovate two classrooms and install HVAC for all remaining rooms. The Alabama Historical Commission awarded $16,250 for the installation of gutters on the SCA building.
ANNUAL RESIDENTAL DEVELOPMENT SUMMARY
Submitted by Doc Dorsey
During the 2021 fiscal year, the City of Opelika Building Inspection Department issued construction permits for 488 new single-family homes, 168 new apartment units and 35 new duplex residences. The total permit value for all construction in Opelika (residential and commercial) during the 2021 fiscal year was $193,284,728.31. This amount is the highest ever during any fiscal year, and represents an increase of $21,830,925.35 over the 2020 fiscal year.
ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Submitted by Lynne Hammond
East Alabama Arts Association is the most established and visible arts organization in Opelika and has presented a highly successful performance series for many years. The 2020-2021 series was cancelled due to the COVID pandemic. The 2021-2022 series began in October with eight performances scheduled. Ticket sales are going well considering lingering COVID concerns. There are numerous examples of other events and activities outside of the Performance Series, including community theatre, the civic chorale, events sponsored downtown by Opelika Main Street, and festivals such as Garden in the Park and the Opelika Songwriter’s Festival. While the last year presented challenges due to COVID, the arts and entertainment community persevered and is experiencing an enthusiastic recovery.
RECREATION, HEALTH, WELLNESS, AND GREEN SPACE
Submitted by Shealy Langley
Opelika continues to improve its recreational and wellness initiatives. The Opelika Planning Department published an update to the Carver-Jeter Plan, and the City Council adopted a long-range bicycle and pedestrian master plan. Opelika was awarded Honorable Mention as a Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Cyclists, largely due to the ongoing work of the Opelika Bicycle Advisory Committee. The Lee-Russell Council of Governments began working with Chambers County, Randolph County, and the National Park Service’s RTCA program to resurrect the Johnny Ray Rails-to-Trails project. Lastly, the City of Opelika was awarded a TAP grant for $600,000 by ALDOT to construct a 10-foot multi-use trail on the northern side and a 5-foot sidewalk on the southern side of Waverly Parkway between Dunlop Drive and Veterans Parkway.
Creekline Trails continued its fundraising and planning efforts. The National Park Service’s RTCA program delivered trail plans for four locations in Opelika. Two public meetings were held in November 2020 and September 2021 at which citizens expressed strong support. The first segment of Creekline would be built on the grounds of the Opelika Innovation and Technology Park (between Highway 280, Veterans Parkway, and Waverly Parkway). Creekline hosted another cleanup event with Keep Opelika Beautiful, removing loads of tires, plastic, styrofoam, and trash from the Pepperell Branch creek. Finally, generous Opelika citizens contributed $12,550 during the third annual Opelika Giving Day on May 5, 2021.
THE FRONT PORCH INITIATIVE
Submitted by Skip and Andrea Long, Directors
The past year has been exciting and energetic on The Front Porch, which became official in December 2020. The Front Porch Initiative practices our core values of Engaging, Empowering and Encouraging our neighbors. Over the past eleven months, The Front Porch Initiative provided many meals with the assistance of local restaurants, hosting a Ward 2 Cleanup Day, participating in a resource fair at the Justice Center for Crime Victims’ Rights Week, and distributing school supplies for teachers and students in 6 local schools to help start their school year. We are particularly enthusiastic about The Front Porch Unchained, a weekly gathering of families who have a loved one incarcerated at the Lee County Detention Center to encourage and support them during this challenging time. We also collected toy donations for our Parents Pride Christmas Store, a one-day pop up Christmas store to allow parents who may need financial assistance the opportunity to shop for their children. The donated toys were sold at a greatly reduced prices. Our desire is to give them the dignity of shopping themselves to provide a special Christmas for their children.
Submitted by Regina Meadows, Program Director
We have experienced great success overall with the program. We have active contact with a majority of our original 26 families, and training for the third class of Circle Leaders began in July 2021.The pandemic presented unique challenges but, despite this, we had moderate success and look forward to continuing to offer a great program to the families we serve and the community. We hosted our 2nd annual Community Yard Sale/Pop Up in August and profited on booth rentals. We are very grateful to the organizations, individuals, churches, and others that contribute to the work of Circles. Some contributions were anonymous, some were monetary, some were food for our families, and some provided other resources.
OPELIKA CHARACTER COUNCIL
Submitted by Tom Tippett
The Character Council is in its 14th year and we continue to enjoy strong support throughout Opelika. We encourage individuals, businesses, organizations, and churches to highlight the monthly character word in their publications and marquees.
The Opelika Chamber of Commerce and the City Council promote the character word for the month in their publications. We have a great relationship with local educators also. Opelika City Schools teach character education using the character word for the month. The City Council awards a $500 scholarship to a senior at OHS to attend Southern Union State Community. The City Council and Southern Union State Community College sponsor the annual Unity Stampede which is a source of funds for the Council, the SUSCC Foundation, and the SUSCC Wellness program. This year we raised over $8000, one of our most successful years.
One of our newest projects encourages character education in the context of family life. Character Council members developed monthly activities that highlight the character trait for that month. The material is featured on the Envision Foundation web site under the heading of Character Council. Parents can find creative ways to develop meaningful character traits in their families, and suggestions are also applicable to educational settings, business and industry practices, medical and religious communities.
OPELIKA GIVING DAY
Submitted by Todd Rauch, Community Foundation of East Alabama
In its third year, the Opelika Giving Day exceeded all past goals for giving to nonprofits in our area. OGD originated through the Envision Opelika Foundation. Approximately $56,000 in contributions was collected for eleven local non-profit organizations. Four of the eleven organizations met or exceeded their financial goals for the event.
EDUCATION, FAMILY, AND YOUTH DEVELOPMENT
Submitted by Tom Tippett
Since 2016 this group of professional social services people initiated projects that make significant contributions to the health of individuals and families in our area. Circles Opelika and Dad’s League were begun by this group, and in 2021 it teamed up with the One Voice Shelter Coalition to deal with the issues of homelessness and affordable housing in the Opelika area. The OVSC is working to identify and provide shelter for those who meet qualifications. Currently, there is shelter for women in an Opelika home and a men’s shelter is under construction.
FIRST CLASS QUALITY PRE-K ACADEMY
Submitted by Cindy Conway, Director/Administrator
Envision Opelika’s First Class Quality Pre-K Academy had a great 2021. We work hard to teach our community’s 4-year-olds. Our teachers plan thematic units that are incorporated to all content areas. At the end of each theme, we bring it all together with events that usually include visits from local citizens. For example, during the Community Helpers unit, the Chambers County Sheriff’s Office brought the helicopter so the kids could see it and explore, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office brought a Segway, the Opelika Police Department brought vehicles, police dogs, and McGruff, and the Opelika Fire Department brought fire trucks and Sparky. These visitors give children tangible representations of what they have been learning and make the classrooms come to life. We also provide wellness screenings for our students. Southern Union’s Nursing program, East Alabama Dental Group, and the Pediatric Clinic all contribute to helping our students’ wellness.
Finally, we added a third classroom this year! We owe the City of Opelika’s Mike Hilyer a huge thank you for heading up the construction of the new class.
Submitted by Kathryn Guthrie, Director
worthy2 (worthy squared) advocates for those who have been exploited through sex trafficking or commercial sex so they may reclaim their dignity and self-worth. Our team compassionately guides survivors as they discover freedom from exploitation.
Submitted by Dr. Sean Forbes, Director
This year marked the eighth year of the Opelika Community Garden and sixth year of OGrows Farmers Market. Through these efforts OGrows donates approximately 2,000 pounds of produce to the Community Market of the Food Bank of East Alabama and other hunger relief organizations. The Farmers Market facilitates commerce between 14 local producers and 275 customers per week between mid-May and the end of August. This year we extended the farmers market into November, operating on Saturdays and bringing 6 additional vendors to the area.