Coal Township 'mom home' grant rejected
SHAMOKIN - An administrator for a regional nonprofit says its application for federal grant money to open a group home in Coal Township for troubled young mothers has been denied.
Gale Zalar, community action director for Central Susquehanna Opportunities Inc., said that while the organization had not yet been officially informed, it missed out on funding through Project ELECT - Education Leading To Employment and Career Training.
The money was to be used to operate Pinnacle Place in the 1600 block of West Lynn Street, where four pregnant women age 18 to 22 could live with their newborns as long as 21 months while receiving motherhood counseling and career training on site. A June opening was targeted.
“Those that were funded were pretty much all those that were up and running,” Zalar said of similar programs.
She said an application would be resubmitted for Project ELECT funding to be dispersed in September, adding “we’re optimistic ... that it will go through.”
CSO, which has an office in Shamokin, is working with Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit to open Pinnacle Place. Coal Township commissioners voted in October to modify zoning ordinance to allow such a home. The move was opposed by some residents of the west-end neighborhood who fear such a venture could negatively impact property values.
Organizers stressed the program is not court-ordered and is not a drug or alcohol rehabilitation. There was talk that women accepted into Pinnacle Place would have to undergo drug testing.
If it’s opened, four full-time employees would work at the home, including a “house mother” who would live on site. There also would be five part-time employees.
The home would be open to women from the five-county area served by CSIU, but preference would be given to locals.
CSO bought the home in 2011 in a county tax sale and has since renovated it.
If the group home is not established, options CSO could pursue under township code include creating a group home for the elderly or the mentally or physically handicapped, or renting it to low-income families.