ENVISION OPELIKA FOUNDATION, INC.
October 1, 2021 – September 30, 2022
Board Members and Officers:
Susan Brinson (vice-chair)
Doc Dorsey (recording secretary)
JArthur Grubbs (chair)
Barbara Patton (exec. secretary/treasurer)
Tom Tippett (exec. director)
The Envision Opelika Foundation, Inc., works toward improving the quality of life for all residents of the community through its citizens, organizations, and community partners.
OPELIKA GIVING DAY
Submitted by Barbara Patton
Opelika Giving Day is a 24-hour online fundraising challenge that provides an easy and exciting way for people to support their local nonprofits serving Opelika. For the 4th Annual Opelika Giving Day, the Community Foundation of East Alabama was again the host. It was held on June 15, 2022. Three of Envision Opelika Foundation entities were selected to participate in the event: Circles Opelika, Creekline, and Southside Center for the Arts. The overall goal this year was $58,500. Forty-two percent of the goal was achieved this year. Circles Opelika had a goal of $3000 and raised $2225 which was 74% of its goal. Creekline had a goal of $5000; raised $3045, 61% of its goal, and Southside Center for the Arts had a goal of $15,000 and raised $1850; 12% of its goal. The event is normally held in May. Due to CFEA staffing it was moved to June. Hopefully OGD will be able to go back to May next year. A total of $149,450 has been raised from 1140 donations.
SOUTHSIDE CENTER FOR THE ARTS
Submitted by Barbara Patton
- Renovation of the two rooms on the South wing began in June and were completed in September.
- The Alabama State Council on the Arts grant report for the renovation funding was submitted. The grant was for $30,000 and the match was $90,000 for total construction costs of $120,000.
- Envision Opelika requested $50,000 from the City of Opelika for the grant match as this was the amount of the renovation for one of the rooms that is now being designated for the Senior Center. The City complied with the request.
- A donor plaque committee consisting of Colleen Alsobrook, Tabatha White and Barbara Patton was formed to research the cost and type of plaque to use. This project is still ongoing.
- The historical marker project is back on track after no driveway was installed in the front of the building.
- A new three-year lease was signed with the City of Opelika that consisted of Envision leasing the entire facility minus the portion being renovated for the Senior Center.
- Subleases were submitted to the Community Foundation of East Alabama and the Arts Association of East Alabama for three years.
- The City of Opelika began renovation of the rooms on the North Wing dedicated to the Senior Center. The target date of completion moved from September, 2022 to December, 2022.
- A grant was submitted to the Alabama Historical Committee requesting $75,000 for window replacement. A notification was received that Envision will received $37,500.
- Roof repairs were made to the areas above the stage and minor maintenance to HVAC units.
- The Opelika Theatre Company raised the funds to purchase and install stage curtains and this project was completed.
- The Board approved establishing a memorandum of understanding with the Opelika Theatre Co pending approval by the Envision board and the Arts Association. The Arts Association wanted to hold off on this.
ANNUAL RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT SUMMARY
City of Opelika, Alabama
Fiscal Year 2022
Submitted by Doc Dorsey
During the 2022 fiscal year ending September 30, 2022, the City of Opelika Building Inspection Department issued construction permits for 401 new single-family homes at a total value of $104,063,276. The average permit value for these new single-family homes was $259,509.42. The Building Inspection Department also issued construction permits for 206 new apartment/duplex units at a total value of $34,029,003. The average permit value for the new apartment/duplex units was $165,189.34. Lastly, the Building Inspection Department issued 263 permits for various residential repairs, renovations and improvements at a total value of $7,192,443. For comparison, in fiscal year 2021 the Building Inspection Department issued construction permits for 488 new single-family homes and 203 apartment/duplex units.
The total permit value for all construction in Opelika (residential and commercial) during the 2022 fiscal year was $320,078,462. This amount is the highest ever during any fiscal year, and far surpasses the previous high of $193,284.728, which was set in fiscal year 2021.
RECREATION, HEALTH, WELLNESS, AND GREEN SPACE
Submitted by Susan Brinson
Recreational opportunities, and their associated health/wellness benefits, enjoyed significant improvements in 2021-2022. In addition to initiatives supported by Envision Opelika, the city continued its commitment to enhancing its parks.
Envision Opelika Organizations
Creekline Trails of Opelika (CTO) enjoyed a major step forward through the ongoing development of the Pepperell Branch trail. The City of Opelika applied for a statewide ADECA grant on behalf of CTO, and received $210,000 for development of the trail at the intersection of Hwy 280 and Waverly Parkway. In conjunction with the city’s $61,832 matching grant, CTO has $270k to develop the trail. This is the first section of the city-wide network of trails envisioned by Shealy and Rocky Langley in 2017.
Envision Opelika launched a new neighborhood park project in 2022. The Greenspace Committee formed to research the undeveloped 4 acres of land bounded by McCoy, Vaughan, and Glenn Streets. The site is immediately north of the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses (KHJW) at 1203 McCoy Street, and is a former softball field that has been unused for 40 years. Committee members met with Richie LaGrand of the KHJW to gauge whether the congregation would be interested in selling or donating a small parcel of land for the park. The local congregation is willing, and we’re waiting for the national organization to make a final determination. In the meantime, committee members have met with Joey Motley, City Administrator, to discuss the project. The committee is in the early stages of designing the park, which will also serve as the location for Grows Farmers Market.
City of Opelika recreational improvements
The City of Opelika continues to devote resources to improving recreational opportunities for its citizens. The city boasts 11 parks and sports fields, the Covington Recreation Center, and the Opelika Sportsplex.
- The Opelika Sportsplex doubled the number of pickleball courts, which draws large numbers of locals and may be used for national pickleball tournaments.
- Improvements at Spring Villa Park include the addition of an archery park and a disk golf course.
- Major renovations were undertaken at Municipal Park (replacement of playground equipment) and Floral Park (removal of softball fields and upgrades).
- Covington Rec Center underwent a major renovation in 2021.
- Shady Park also was renovated in 2021.
CREEKLINE TRAILS OF OPELIKA
Submitted by Mike Akins, Acting Coordinator
The Creekline Trails of Opelika project continued to make significant progress during 2022. With ongoing support operating under Envision Opelika, help from the City, active participation from local leaders on our Advisory Board, and participation by active citizen volunteers, we continued to focus on organizing, planning, funding, communications, and, finally this year, starting actual construction on our first trail system.
Advisory Board: With natural turnover on our volunteer board, Mike Akins stepped into serve as Acting Coordinator early in 2022 for now, and the Board has continued to operate with six core citizen volunteers, three City staff members participating, and two new volunteer supporters. In 2023, we will be recruiting to add Board Members to share committee leadership and tasks.
Clean Up Events/Collaborations: We conducted two major clean up days (in February and November) in collaboration with Keep Opelika Beautiful, the City, the Chamber of Commerce 20 Under 40 group, the Auburn University Water Resources Center, and the Southeast Conservation Corps. As trail construction starts and planning continues, we will continue to look for more opportunities for great collaborations. These make a big difference.
Grant Award: CTO collaborated with the City to win a grant from the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) announced in August and only recently finalized. The award provides $210,000 from ADECA as a major part of the budget to fund construction of a multi-use paved path at Pepperell Branch Creek on Waverly Parkway. This trail construction project is a milestone as the first trail CTO trail system to move into the construction phase. The project will also be funded by a match from the City as well as use of CTO funds for a total estimated budget of roughly $280,000. Preconstruction work is underway and contracting and paving is planned for the spring to summer of 2023.
Pepperell Branch-Waverly Trail construction start up: This fall saw a ramp up of activity starting with rough cut/clearing of more than a mile of main trail and nature paths along Pepperell Branch Creek. This included a week of forest clearing and mulching through dense forest growth for more than one mile to open a path for further trail work. This will set the stage for a detailed pre-construction site survey to be scheduled soon.
New parking at Pepperell Branch-Waverly: Funded by CTO and with the help of City Engineering, a new gravel parking area has been constructed recently near what will become the trailhead of the trail system.
Creekline Trails of Opelika/KOB and others do clean up November 5: This was a big day when a collaboration of CTO and KOB organized the Chamber of Commerce 20 Under
40 group and the Auburn University Water Resource Center representative and volunteers in a major cleanup of the creek and trail route. This successful event resulted in a reported removal of more than 20 large bags of trash, 12 tires, large plastic objects, discarded construction materials like pipes, as well as other debris from the creek and banks.
20 Under 40 Service Project. Beyond the work day, the 20 Under 40 group is continuing to work on a focused service project to transform an abandoned water lift station into an attractive trail rest stop with step access to the creek nearby.
Southeast Conservation Corps trail work: Guided by Dani Nelson, CTO Chair of Design and Construction, a 5-person trail construction crew was contracted to work on specific projects all along the one-mile trail to establish a more clear, walkable route with features like leveling, bridging, erosion and water flow management, creek access steps, and more. The SECC crew worked a 7-day schedule to complete all projects.
We look forward to an active 2023 with collaborative events and activities and other preparations anticipating contract work on the main paved trail to start in the spring of 2023 with completion expected by summer 2023.
ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Submitted by Lynne Hammond
Opelika continues to enjoy a reputation as a vibrant and growing arts and entertainment community. Opportunities abound for community members to participate in and enjoy a wide variety of activities from the performing arts and community theatre to festivals and the visual arts.
As the most established and visible arts organization in Opelika, East Alabama Arts Association has presented a highly successful performance series for many years. The 2021-2022 season included 8 shows from October, 2021, to April, 2022. The 2022-2023 season began on August 30 with the highly successful production of “We’ll Meet Again,” the story of Opelika’s own Henry Stern and his family’s dramatic escape from Nazi Germany. This was one of the most well-attended shows in the history of EAAA, with over 950 citizens in attendance. Remarkably, attendance at the performance of “Swan Lake” by the Kyiv City Ballet on October 20th surpassed “We’ll Meet Again” at 970 attendees, demonstrating strong community support for the performing arts. The 2022-2023 season will include a total of 8 shows, with 5 remaining in FY 2023.
East Alabama Arts continues its efforts to expand programming beyond the performing arts, including visual, literary and creative arts, and to collaborate with other arts initiatives in the community. There are numerous examples of other events and activities outside of the Performance Series, including The Opelika Theater Company, the East Alabama Civic Chorale, events sponsored downtown by Opelika Main Street, and festivals such as Garden in the Park, sponsored by Keep Opelika Beautiful. The Art Haus also sponsors festivals and shows focused on the visual and creative arts. The third year of Opelika Songwriter’s Festival, sponsored by The Sound Wall in October, was again highly successful, and the Festival has grown into a destination event attracting performers and attendees from across the country and internationally. In addition, local businesses offer live music on a regular basis, with continued growth of entertainment venues in Downtown Opelika.
The Opelika High Theatre Society is one of the state’s top High School theatre programs. They have performed Mary Poppins, The Parchman Hour, and Grease during the 2021-2022 school year.
Since August of 2021, the Opelika Theater Company has produced 4 major Broadway musicals: Disney’s – “DESCENDANTS”; MTI’s ” ALL TOGETHER NOW”; “NUNSENSE: The Second Coming”; and Disney’s – “NEWSIES” with gross audience attendance reaching over 4,500 patrons. OTC partnered with NAACP/Act-So and R.E.A.C.H. Ministries to produce the First Annual Black History Month Showcase seen by over 400 people. This will be an annual event. OTC produced two Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre Shows written by 2 local writers in the community and has established ” O-ACT” Acting Academy offering Acting/ Musical Theatre classes 3 days week, (with emphasis on “all” styles of dance) for students ages 5 and up. Some of their students are receiving professional work experiences in regional theatre, film and commercials. Several OTC students have received university scholarships. OTC also raised $8500 for the installation of stage curtains in the auditorium at the Southside Center for the Arts.
The growing recognition of Opelika as a hub for the arts and entertainment provides tremendous opportunity for the City to capitalize on this asset to enhance Economic Development and contribute to the quality of life for Opelika’s citizens.
THE FRONT PORCH INITIATIVE
Submitted by Skip and Andrea Long
The Front Porch exists to Engage with our community in ways that Empower and Encourage all people. We seek to connect neighbors in a manner that provides transformative experiences for all.
Engaging our neighbors is a daily occurrence, however, no two days are alike. We may gather on the front porch, a neighbor’s carport, or the swimming pool at The Sportsplex. We can empower by standing with neighbors at a court hearing, helping them look into furthering their education, and expose them to experiences that they never thought possible for “someone like me” (them). Encouragement may come in the form of a text, traveling to Birmingham for a doctor’s appointment that holds uncertain results, or being able to attend the first birthday party a parent has been able to provide for their child. Basically, doing everything from the everyday mundane to special events with neighbors, who have felt disconnected from the community they exist within.
January through March we continued our monthly Zoom sessions but have since moved to more in-person meetings. In February, we started an 8-week NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) certification class. This has been very crucial in helping us walk with neighbors struggling with mental illness. In May, we began a 9-week Antiracism class. As our community has various ethnicities and cultures, this was a great way to refresh our understanding as we engage with different folks. In August, we began planning our annual Christmas store. This year Parent’s Pride Christmas Store will be held at Southern Union State Community College, Dec. 15 – 17. We are thrilled to partner with SUSCC, as well as Helping Families Initiative, Golden State Foods, The Bennet Group, James Bros. Bikes, and Mt. Olive Baptist Church.
Our ongoing weekly activities include; weekly meetings at The Lee County Youth Development Center, check-ins with students and their families from our Ready to Work classes, attending court with someone for moral support, and time spent with our donors.
We are also excited to say that The Front Porch has expanded to Auburn. Churmell Mitchell is incorporating neighbor helping neighbor in his community, to strengthen and nurture the lives of families.
It gives us such joy to journey with our neighbors and help be a resource toward their success and healthier life experiences. We have had the privilege to take a young man to the barber shop and then the mall to get a new shirt and bowtie, as he prepared to attend his first school dance. We have watched the utter delight as a neighbor experienced an Auburn football game, a lifelong dream! We have praised God as a young woman shared her first ultrasound with us and encouraged her as she is without family support. We have cried tears of joy as a young man finally decided to enter rehab. We have sent care packages to a young woman, entering college while her mom was incarcerated. The list is endless, and with that we are extremely grateful for the continued support and encouragement from Envision Opelika Foundation Board.
Submitted by Regina Meadows, Program Director
Mission: To inspire and equip individuals and communities to resolve poverty and thrive.
Our primary goals are to: (1) assist families in achieving at least 200% of the federal poverty guideline based on the family size, i.e., a family of 4 should have an annual household income of at $55,500 or $4,625 monthly; and (2) to increase their social capital. The program has providing linking capital (connecting people to community resources); Bonding Capital (the Circle Leaders and Allies-friends and family); Bridging Capital (connecting people from one close-knot group to members of another);
Program participants to date:
- We have had two successful cohorts- May 2019 and September 2019. We attempted a third class in Aug. 2021 and due to illnesses (COVID) and inconsistent job schedules, the class did not complete the 12 weeks; therefore, they did not get certified and are not technically Circle Leaders. They are affectionately known as the 2.5 class/ cohort! We are still engaged with 2 of the 4. The 4th class was not really promoted and only considered due to an expressed interest of a few ladies. Shift work has posed a problem with this group as work schedules changed for 3 of the 5 potential participants. As a result, only 1 was able to commit to the existing schedule. The next class is schedule to begin January 19, 2023. At this point the goal will be to begin a new class/cohort each January.
- Of all our cohorts and attempted cohorts (31 families), we have maintained contact with 17 (a little more than 50% over a 3-year period).
- Of the 17 Circle Leaders, 8 attends meetings regularly; the other 9 maintains contact with us and supports our efforts.
- Of the 26 families that has completed the training and are certified Circle Leaders: 2 have become allies waiting to be matched and 1 will assist with training the upcoming cohorts. These 3 have successfully reached the 200% financial goal and has had an increase in Social Capital. We will plan to acknowledge their success in December at our reunion/ holiday gathering.
This year we were able to establish a new opportunity for our participants. This initiative is in honor of one of our great supporters, Dr. Robert L. Lofton. The fund is to support our Circle Leaders’ educational pursuits. They will be allowed to request up to $500 to offset some costs associated with attending a program that will increase their earning potential. The support is a loan with very flexible terms. It went into effect September 2022. This fund was established per Dr. Lofton’s request that in lieu of flowers, people make financial donations to Circles Opelika, and we will honor him with those donations.
We hosted a successful fundraiser this Fall; it was held September 16,2022 in Southern Union’s Southern Room. It was a luncheon in which we raised a little over $7,000.
We have received funding from various members of the community this year thanks to the support of our Advisory Committee and others valuing the work that we are doing.
Community Support: (not an exhaustive list of supporters)
We are very grateful to the various churches, organizations, individuals, etc. that has supported us with time, food, the opportunity to share our program, money, talents or simply sharing our information within their circles. Christian Care Ministries; Envision Opelika Foundation; PRF Institute; Opelika City Council; The East AL Foodbank; State Farm- Eric McDade; State Farm- Bill White; Mustard Seed Faith Christian Center; Deeper Impact; Auburn University (Dr. Portia Johnson); Debra Ward; Church of Opelika; Evans Catering; The Auburn-Opelika Korean Church; Elisa Pesto; Denise Salo; Bubba’s Medicine Shop; Southern Union State Community College; Mr. and Mrs. Patrick Allen (Gina); Mr. and Mrs. Roy Morris (Lynda); Mr. and Mrs. Corey Meadows; Grandma Val’s Lemonade; Southside Center for the Arts; Opelika Public Library; Opelika Housing Authority; Greater Peace Baptist Church; Bill White State Farm; Jus Peach Designs; Restoration House; Virginia’s Flowers; Four Season’s Credit Union; Vision Pro; OCV, LLC; Clear Vision Tabernacle.
Circles is very optimistic about their continued impact on families in the community.
EDUCATION, FAMILY, AND YOUTH DEVELOPMENT
Submitted by Tom Tippett
Now in its eighth year of existence, the Education, Family, and Youth Development continues to meet monthly for the purpose of communication, collaboration, and coordination between organizations and agencies that serve families. After participating in the formation of the Family Resource Center, they were instrumental in initiating the father initiative called Dad’s League. Later came Circles Opelika in 2018. This Group also sponsored a seminar on “The Family’s Role in Addiction.” There is currently a growing interest in improving communication with each other as well as how to collectively communicate services to the general public.
Representatives from the following have participated in the last year: United Way 211, Women’s Hope Medical Clinic, Alabama Council on Human relations (ACHR), Southern Union State Community College, Family Resource Center, theway2serve ministries, Lee County District Attorney’s Office, Lee County Health Department, Circles Opelika, Opelika, Housing Authority, Auburn Housing Authority, East Alabama Medical Center, Boys and Girls Clubs of Lee County, Alabama Department of Human Resources, Lee County Youth Development Center, East Alabama Mental Health Center, The Front Porch Initiative, Family Guidance Center.
Envision Opelika Education, Family, and Youth Development Group
One Voice Shelter Coalition
Recap of Year 2021-2022
In June of 2021, a combined meeting between the Envision Opelika Education, Family, and Youth Development Group and One Voice Shelter Coalition was held at the Southside Center for the Arts, hosted, and facilitated by Dr. Tom Tippett, executive director of the Envision Opelika Foundation. Topic for the meeting was to engage interested community individuals to share comments, suggestions and data related to the growing problem of homelessness in Lee County.
Present at the meetings were representatives from faith-based organizations, interested individuals, businesses, organizations, social services (Family and Children Services), and elected officials.
An overview at the first meeting regarding the many requests from homeless individuals was shared by many of the representatives present.
The common link to the problems is affordable housing. We developed a list of categories of housing/shelter (see the attachment). It was the consensus of the group that there is not enough affordable housing in Lee County.
Several representatives from affordable housing, the Opelika Housing Authority, Social Services, EAMC, and churches attended meetings throughout the first six months. We considered how various services can assist individuals before they become homeless, and after they find themselves struggling to experience security and discipline.
Locations of undesirable places for many displaced individuals were shared. Living in cars, in wooded areas, motels and at the back of dumpsters are just a few of the actual locations where many homeless people find themselves trying to survive.
Awareness was shared of how people make their rounds to various places for assistance and the many illnesses that go hand in hand with homelessness. Malnutrition, sleep deprivation, Diabetes, and Hypertension are just a few of the health risks they face.
We agreed to put together a “Resource Community Guide” that would be a great benefit for those assisting the homeless. Currently the guide is a work in progress.
Goal: What we have learned: there is not a plan in place to address or possibly eliminate the growing requests that are processed daily in our communities for shelter.
A plan should be set in place where individuals can become self-sufficient and productive citizens to allow them the opportunity to give back in the community they live, work and worship in!
A Hand Up, Not A Handout!
Focus: Partnerships will make this possible. Affordable housing is the answer and many in the housing market agree. This is a long-term, on-going goal.
During the first six months of meetings, we identified a path to connect the community with the awesome undertaking of assisting the homeless population in our communities. That path is affordable housing to eliminate the need and the many requests for motel vouchers, and to assist local citizens the opportunity to have a decent place to live.
These meetings have increased in size as more interested citizens are seeking ways to help address the need for affordable housing.
Local property management leaders are attending the meetings and are willing to partner with individuals that are assisting those that are homeless.
The greatest achievement this committee has accomplished is recognizing and agreeing that it is possible for a person to go from being homeless, to a motel, to a rental complex and eventually to homeownership. This formula is already in progress with two families ready to purchase houses, this did not happen quickly, OVSC began working with these families in 2019. Repairing the credit score and improving financial security through employment takes time, but they are now on the threshold of a new and exciting journey of owning a home!
A partnership between the Opelika Police Department, the Lee County Ministers Alliance and One Voice Shelter Coalition, Inc., has resulted in OVSC assisting the local and transient individuals that present themselves in an emergency to the OPD. This will streamline the needed assistance and allow the public safety officers to eliminate a lot of time and energy used in these occurrences.
The Community Resource Information Guide is another accomplishment the committee is proud of and is ready to distribute. The guide has information for the user to streamline resources that are available for those seeking shelter.
Final Summary June 2021 – June 2022
Addressing the following issues to obtain success for those seeking shelter:
- Develop and distribute a Community Resource Guide to streamline services.
- One local number for individuals in needing shelter to call 211.
- Partnerships with property management owners for affordable housing.
- Partnership between OPD/LCMA/OVSC to streamline individuals that present themselves to the OPD for emergency or transient assistance.
OPELIKA CHARACTER COUNCIL
Submitted by Tom Tippett
At the May meeting of the Council, the focus shifted to a role of connecting with organizations and businesses to hear their ideas of promoting good character in their communities. We began meeting with representatives from different organizations and businesses to hear about their emphasis on good character and how the Council might work with them, serving as a stimulus for promoting good character in their milieu.
Scott Parker, the Opelika City Engineer, met with us and made these suggestions:
Character words on sidewalks – one word
Street names – Loyalty Loop; Prosperity Drive; etc.
Roundabouts – bolder signs as in a monument
We provided suggestions for naming streets:
Loyalty Way Honor Avenue Sincerity Lane Integrity Lane
Gratitude Road Resilience Run Benevolence Passage
Courage Court Tenacity Terrace Justice Street Humility Lane
Honesty Place Fairness Road
Andrew Barnes, owner of a Chick-fil-A franchise, met with the Council and told us how his business attempts to model good character in the workplace, encouraging employees to look for unexpected opportunities to serve, training them on how to treat people – caring, concern for others, exhibit integrity. Employee interviews reveal much about the person’s character: eye contact; smile; engaging in conversation; inflection of voice. He desires to have a long-term vision for creating an atmosphere of serving.
Ruth Blessing, HR Director for the City of Opelika, was our special guest. She made an outstanding presentation of the plans her department has for emphasizing, recognizing, and hiring for character. We are most encouraged that the present and future employees of our City will be working in an environment that is promoting excellent character traits.
Emphasizing character: newsletter with a section on character; materials produced by the City including character words. Recognizing the need to expand the focus on good character.
Recognizing character: continuing the focus on excellence in character throughout employment
Hiring for character: matching the person with the position by finding character traits that would fit best. Training with a consultant on how to accomplish this goal.
Kelsey Gallahar, Lead Client Success Manager for OCV, LLC. OCV, LLC, is a premier app development company based in the Auburn/Opelika area. They focus on public safety departments (sheriff, police, ema, public health, etc.).
Michael Collier, Director of Construction & Project Management, Scott Bridge.
One Book – One City Project: Discussion is ongoing concerning this project which may be similar to the event involving Tony Dungee and the reading of his book “Uncommon.”
Character Education in Families: Beatrice Allen, Yolanda Fears, Elaine Burton, and Andrea Long established a site on the Envision website that was available to parents. They have developed activities for the family that promotes good character. We distributed over 1000 cards that have the
Character Scholarship. We continued the practice of rewarding students at OHS with perfect attendance and awarding a $500 scholarship to the OHS student who wrote the best essay on character development. The scholarship was designated for the student who will attend SUSCC.
Unity Stampede was the 5K, 1 mile, Walk, Wheel event to raise money for the Council. We raised approximately $1800.
OPELIKA FIRST CLASS PRE-K ACADEMY
Submitted by Cindy Conway, Director
This year we started the school year off with 55 students. We have 3 full classrooms and have hired 3 new teachers. Cathy Matthews, Nan Parr Thrift, and Myra Parker have joined our team. As of now, we have 3 lead teachers, 3 auxiliary teachers, Carolyn Harry (cook and floater), Taylor Woodall (kitchen aid and floater), Abby and Dria (college students) that help with Extended Day, Erica Patrick (Extended Day) and several interns working at our school. I would love to expand more in the next few years. If we could find more space for classrooms, I would like to not only have more 4-year-old classrooms but incorporate 3-yea-olds as well. There is a major need for 3-year-old programs. I have had to turn many parents away because I currently do not have that as an option. This is something I hope to rectify soon. There are grants through the Department of Early Childhood Education similar to the Pre-K fundings that would be available should we be able to accommodate more students. If we had the space, we could reach more children in Opelika and that is my goal.
We attained accreditation with the STARS QRIS program at the end of May which generated $45,500.00 for our school. We are currently making some upgrades to our playground area and will receive their final rating upon completion. This will give us an additional $65,000.00. We have also received a COVID 19 relief grant giving us a per pupil allocation of $63,000.00.
We are currently making some upgrades to our playground area and will receive their final rating upon completion. This will give us an additional $65,000.00. We have also received a COVID 19 relief grant giving us a per pupil allocation of $63,000.00. Mayor Fuller has put in place a new awning that will go across the back of the building. This will be a wonderful addition and will make getting lunch to the 3rd classroom on rainy days much easier! We now have a termite bond on the building by the City of Opelika. We had a few spots that needed attention and we were able to clear them. This has stopped further damage to the building. Over Christmas, the wood will be replaced in the building to maintain the character and integrity of the Train Station. Mayor Fuller also connected us with the city’s technology coordinator so we can get cameras placed outside the school.
We truly appreciate all of Mayor Fuller’s efforts and the City of Opelika, as well. Mayor Fuller has put in place a new awning that will go across the back of the building. This will be a wonderful addition and will make getting lunch to the 3rd classroom on rainy days much easier! We now have a termite bond on the building by the City of Opelika. We had a few spots that needed attention and we were able to clear them. This has stopped further damage to the building. Over Christmas, the wood will be replaced in the building to maintain the character and integrity of the Train Station. Mayor Fuller also connected us with the city’s technology coordinator so we can get cameras placed outside the school. We truly appreciate all of Mayor Fuller’s efforts and the City of Opelika, as well.
We partnered with the Department of Early Childhood Education at Auburn University and we are fortunate to have recently graduated students overseeing our summer program. We also have interns during the school year and summer program working with our students and teachers. Just this past week we partnered with Jefferson State Community College and their intern program. We now have an intern from their university. Our extended day program is growing every year. Last year we had 21 students staying until 5:30. Now we have 30 children on roll for Extended Day.
Our summer program grew exponentially over the past year. We had 46 children ages 3-8 to participate. We will continue to offer the summer program and hope that it continues to flourish. We partnered with the Department of Early Childhood Education at Auburn University and we are fortunate to have recently graduated students overseeing our summer program. We also have interns during the school year and summer program working with our students and teachers. Just this past week we partnered with Jefferson State Community College and their intern program. We now have an intern from their university. Our extended day program is growing every year. Last year we had 21 students staying until 5:30. Now we have 30 children on roll for Extended Day.
Submitted by Kathryn Guthrie
Advocacy and Outreach Statistics
Victim/Survivors identified and connected with via text or in person: 111
(Note: this number is lower than last year as we were more intentional in Outreach efforts)
Active caseload: 31
Recovered (accepted help): 17
Restored (walking in Freedom): 12
2022 expenses approximately $25,000- a year of “loaves and fishes”.
Funding is donations from local businesses, individuals and/or churches. Funds are used to provide:
- Basic needs- food, clothing, shelter
- Program fees
- Transport- transportation to rehabilitation facilities, long term programs, various appointments
- Medical and dental services
- Legal services
Training and Education:
- Law enforcement advocate training
- Local, state and federal task force trainings
- Continuing Education and certifications
Inconsistent funding in 2022 has negatively affected W2’s overall impact in both our local community and state. The organization is in immediate need of a development person.
Community: Awareness and Partnerships
In 2022 W2 (worthy squared):
- Launched the Trafficking Free Zone initiative with the City of Opelika in January 2022. This is a national initiative sponsored by the U. S. Institute Against Human Trafficking (USIAHT). By partnering with the Mayor’s Office and Opelika Police Department all city first responders and employees were trained to recognize and report indicators of human trafficking in Opelika.
- Cultivated a positive working relationship with Chief Healey and his investigative team at the Opelika Police Department. Additional training scheduled for 2023.
- Kathryn Guthrie, Founder, is the Mentor for Auburn University’s Students Against Human Trafficking (SAHT) and plays an active role in training and event planning.
- Became a member of the Alabama Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Alliance, attend quarterly meetings.
- Joined the Middle Alabama Human Trafficking Task Force, attend quarterly meetings.
- Established a state-wide Advocacy network by partnering with sister organizations:
- Dare to Hope- Dothan, AL
- Hope Filled Rooms and Trafficking Hope- Birmingham, AL
- United Way of Northwest AL- Anniston, AL
- Advocate team supported ALEA and Homeland Security during the Federal sex trafficking trial of Lonnie Dontae Mitchell in Montgomery, AL. w2 advocates worked with the five victims, now Survivors, from their initial intake in September 2020 and throughout their journey to healing and Freedom. All five women were trafficked multiple times in Opelika and Auburn and each of them testified against Mitchell during the trial. On June 17, 2022 Mitchell was convicted unanimously by the jury on all 10 counts of sex trafficking. This was the largest Human Trafficking case ever in Alabama’s history. His sentencing is December 2nd and he is expected to receive a life sentence.
- Served on the Homeland Security Human Trafficking Task Force during the World Games in July 2022.
- Secured the services of Kochek Design Group to relaunch our brand design and website for introduction in January 2023. These services were offered at minimal fees in exchange for firm exposure via the website.