A Stable Source of Support – Stroll Schuylkill

What is the mission of Open Hearth? Open Hearth, Inc. is a leader in resource coordination and community-building efforts, providing innovative programs to support and empower people to end the cycle of homelessness, acquire affordable housing, a means of transportation, workforce opportunities, and achieve financial stability.

Debbie Dundon

Why was the organization started? Open Hearth was originally formed in 1989 as a local grassroots committee to assure equal housing opportunities for people who are traditionally isolated and systematically denied opportunities due to mental, emotional, or physical disabilities. Headquartered in Phoenixville, Open Hearth, Inc. received its  501(c)(3) tax-exempt status in April of 1991. Over the years our organization has grown and evolved to serve members of single parents, displaced families, those dealing with drug and alcohol dependency, and all income-eligible populations who come from diverse racial, cultural, and geographic backgrounds.

We believe our greatest strengths are staying abreast of emerging issues and best practices and then developing programs and effective partnerships to meet the needs of the community we serve. Because of this, as community needs have changed we have expanded our services to include asset building, financial education and coaching, transportation solutions, and case management, believing that the answer lies in prevention and education.

Our work at Open Hearth spans a continuum—from providing temporary housing for someone experiencing homelessness to providing a savings match for someone planning to purchase their first home. Our participants can rely on our staff to support them as they work to attain financial and housing stability.

What is your role with Open Hearth? As the office manager, I am primarily responsible for all of Open Hearth’s operational support including facility management, accounts payable/receivable, and serving as the point of contact for our IT consultant. I started with Open Hearth in March of 2006 and was a program coordinator for a year. I then shifted to the office administrator role and also served as the coordinator of the monthly Phoenixville Area Resource Network meetings for ten years.

Any other information you would like to include? I’ve been excited to watch the growth of Open Hearth over
the last eighteen years including our move from our rented office space in Spring City, to our property in Phoenixville, to the growth of our programs and staff. Debbie has lived in Schuylkill Township at SpringMeadows at Valley Forge for 14 years. Her parents both had roots in Phoenixville and she grew up in the borough. She currently lives with her fur babies: dog Kona (4), and cats Frankie& Freddy (4). Her adult daughters, MaryBeth and Amy, both live locally.

 

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Jams and Generosity

Join us on May 23rd for Jams & Generosity as we blend fun and philanthropy with live music!

This is a family-friendly event that will be held on the grassy area of our one-acre property in the center of Phoenixville. Visit our food trucks and bring your own lawn chairs, blankets and/or lawn games.

Performers:

Roadhouse Redeemers

Cliff Hillis

Hepner’s Rebellion

Paul Matecki

Food Trucks:

Petrucci’s Ice Cream & Water ice

Sly Fox Brewing Co.

Fitzwater Station

Get your ticket today! GiveButter.com/JandG

View our Flyer

Spring Personal Finance Workshops

All workshops are on Wednesdays from 6:00pm-8:00pm via Zoom. Registration is required at Tinyurl.com/nrec939

April 3 – Finances for a LifetimeA daily money manager will go over

  • Financial well-beinga
  • Steps to attain financial success
  • Budgeting & tracking expenses
  • The affordability index
  • Compounding
  • What kind of spender you are

April 10 – Good Credit: How to Get It – A financial coach will:

  • Explain how the credit system works
  • Provide tips on how to establish good credit quickly
  • Discuss ways to improve your credit score
April 17 – Banking & Budgeting basics – A bank branch leader will:
  • Provide an overview of the basics of banking
  • Assess your budget and savings plan
  • Lay out ways to build and repair your credit

April 24 – Budgeting and Debt Reduction –
A financial coach will review:
 
  • Budgeting
  • SMART goals
  • Debt reduction
  • Credit card interest
  • Managing debt
  • Saving money

May 1st – Meet a realtor – A realtor will discuss:

  • How to find and select your homebuying team (i.e., realtor, mortgage officer, etc.)
  • Important tips on how to find the right home for you
  • All the steps leading up to settlement day


May 8th – Car buying: Put Yourself in the Driver’s Seat – An auto broker will help you:

 
  • Learn how to research the kind of car you need, want, and can afford to buy
  • Figure out how to pay for a car
  • Understand all of the steps of the car-buying process
May 15 – Paying for College – A financial officer will:
 
  • Explain the cost of schooling
  • Explore the various ways to finance your or your child(ren)’s education via government loans and grants, as well as private scholarships and loans

May 22 – Buying Your First Home – A mortgage officer will cover:

  • How to choose the best – and most affordable – mortgage for you
  • The components and consideration of a mortgage
  • House hunting
  • The mortgage application process

May 29 – Save Like a Millionaire – A certified financial planner will:

  • Provide you with tips on how to develop a financial plan
  • Explain the difference between savings vs. investment accounts
  • Teach you how to take advantage of the principle of compounding
  • Coach you on ways to save and invest

Pints With a Purpose – March 6th from 5-8pm

 

Come out and join us for Pints With a Purpose at Locust Lane Craft Brewery!

• 100% of cash tips will fund Open Hearth’s mission to end homelessness and financial instability
• No cover charge or RSVP is needed
• Meet our celebrity bartenders
• Mingle with members of the event sponsor, Exton Region Chamber of Commerce, as well as other supporters of Open Hearth

Mark your calendar and come together, enjoy some brews and food, and make a difference in our community!

From Chronic Homelessness to a Permanent Home

There are over 400 people experiencing homelessness on any given night in Chester County. Until recently, Eve was one of them. She joined Open Hearth’s Continuum of Care Permanent Supportive Housing Program (CoC) after living on the streets and in a tent in West Chester for several years. Upon her intake into CoC, staff helped her connect with another Open Hearth program so she could temporarily stay in a hotel while she searched for a landlord who would accept CoC’s HUD subsidy. While temporarily housed, Eve was able to find a job she loves where she feels valued and part of a community.

Stable housing is crucially important. Evidence shows that housing is vital to mental and physical health as well as economic productivity. For someone with a disability (a requirement for all CoC clients), the lack of safe and affordable housing is one of the most powerful barriers to recovery. When this basic need isn’t met, people often cycle in and out of homelessness, jails, shelters, and/or hospitals.

With the help of her Open Hearth Client Services Coordinator (CSC), Eve was able to connect with a landlord and move into an apartment. After she signed her lease, her CSC welcomed her at her new home with a basket of household necessities. Eve’s CSC also connected her with an agency that provided gently used donated furniture since she didn’t have the means to purchase these essential items herself. Eve is thrilled with her new apartment and as an artist, is excited to have a space to draw and paint. The safety and security provided by stable housing removed several barriers for her, which has brought her an increased sense of pride.

As a growing number of the clients who enter our program are entering from chronic homelessness, the need to provide enhanced support has also increased. This is true even though the funding we receive through government contracts has remained flat for many years.

Your support of Open Hearth is crucial to clients like Eve having the resources they need to maintain their housing if they experience bumps in the road. For instance, when a landlord sells their property and the client needs guidance to find a new rental that will accept their housing subsidy.

We look forward to providing the ongoing support Eve needs as she settles into her new home. With secure housing, she is moving from surviving to thriving and we can’t wait to see what’s next for her!

May Financial Workshops

Click here to view full workshop calendar

*Notice* The ‘Paying for College’ workshop date has been moved. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Please take note of the new date (June 7th) and join us for a fun-filled financial learning experience!

Grants Totaling $315,000 To Assist in Ida Recovery

Groups reach across county lines to help Mont Clare residents cope with flood devastation.

Imagine having no choice but to spend your chemotherapy money on a trash dumpster for the debris covering your property. Or settling in a new country with your family, only to end up with your home destroyed and no insurance.

Those were just two of the situations facing Mont Clare, Pa., residents after Hurricane Ida and its accompanying floods. Nearly two months later, more than 150 households are still coping with homes left uninhabitable.

Fortunately, Mont Clare has concerned neighbors who are eager to help, and two grants will go a long way toward assisting them in that mission.

  • Open Hearth, Inc., a non-profit organization serving Chester County and portions of Montgomery County, received $300,000 from the Phoenixville Community Health Foundation to help Mont Clare residents affected by Ida get their systems back up, including electricity, heating, and water.
  • The Jaycees in Phoenixville received $15,000 for the organization’s “In This Together PXV Fund” – originally intended to assist with the Covid pandemic, recently pivoted to benefit victims of Hurricane Ida as well.

Soon after Ida hit, a partnership in the neighboring borough of Phoenixville came together with the intent of helping victims on the other side of the river separating Chester and Montgomery counties. Participants include Open Hearth, the Jaycees, the Phoenixville Community Health Foundation, and Karin Williams, director of the Phoenixville Office ofEmergency Management.

“Phoenixville is fortunate to have the kind of strong community partnerships that enable us to lend a hand to our MontClare and Port Providence neighbors in their time of need,” Williams said.

Contacts:

Kelly Raggazino, Executive Director – Open Hearth, Inc., 610-792-9282, ext. 202, [email protected]

Erica Klinedinst, Executive Director – Phoenixville Jaycees Foundation, (717)-683-4274, [email protected]

Karin Williams, Director – Phoenixville Office of Emergency Management, 610-933-8801, ext. 120, [email protected]

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Open Hearth, Inc., a leader in resource coordination and community building efforts, provides innovative programs to support and empower people to end the cycle of homelessness, acquire affordable housing, a means of transportation, workforce opportunities, and achieve financial stability.

The Phoenixville Jaycees provide development opportunities that empower young people to create positive change in their communities and support the good efforts of exempt organizations in and around Phoenixville, Pennsylvania.

Boost Your Donation During The Amazing Raise

Open Hearth is proud to participate in The Amazing Raise. This regional month of giving is an initiative of the TriCounty Community Network. We hope you can contribute to Open Hearth during the month of October to boost your gift’s impact!  To donate, visit: 

www.amazingraisetricounty.org/OpenHearth