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Oprah's foundation gives unexpected boost to TC

February 9, 2009
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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By April, a three-story Victorian home on Martin Luther King Boulevard in Newark, N.J., will be fully converted to an outpatient drug treatment and transitional housing center to fulfill the dreams of mothers pursuing recovery. And miracles of a sort already are happening for project sponsor Integrity House, which learned in recent days that it would not have to apply for or otherwise seek out the cash needed to complete the project’s fundraising goal.

David H. Kerr, founder and president of the New Jersey therapeutic community (TC) model program, has received a $500,000 check from the Oprah Winfrey Foundation. Integrity House spokesperson Darcie Borden confirmed that the check was delivered just two days after Kerr first learned of the award.

The foundation’s contribution was one of its five newly announced donations totaling $1.5 million to nonprofit groups in Newark—monies reportedly secured through the assistance of Newark Mayor Cory Booker. Other local recipient organizations in this round of funding included a shelter for women and their children and a parochial school.

With many addiction treatment organizations finding themselves in a cash-strapped state as they consider whether capital projects can be launched or completed at this time, this award to Integrity House is exactly the kind of “found money” that many centers would hope for right now.

Much of the TC’s Integrity Initiative for Women and Children has been supported through private fundraising. The initiative seeks to meet women’s unique needs through a program of family stabilization, addiction treatment and intensive case management. “Integrity House’s ultimate goal with this program is family reunification with a capable and safe mother who is clean, sober, healthy and self-sufficient,” reads an Integrity House statement.

An important service that will be offered at Integrity House’s renovated center is guidance in re-entering the workforce. The center will use part of the grant from Oprah’s foundation to create an entrepreneurship program for women in recovery, who might be ready to work but also are likely to face difficult odds in today’s job market.