Maternity group home in Coal Township next month
By News-Item Staff
COAL TOWNSHIP - Pinnacle Place, a maternity group home in Coal Township, is scheduled to open next month and offer family and career management services to young women and their children.
The Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit (CSIU) was awarded a grant to operate the home and coordinate services. Pinnacle Place is aimed at helping its participants reach self-sufficiency and work toward achieving a high level in their professional and personal lives.
The CSIU is renting the house from Central Susquehanna Opportunities, Inc. (CSO) and is partnering with the nonprofit organization to provide the career-readiness services. The exact location is not being disclosed because of privacy concerns, and the CSIU did not report an opening date.
Neighbors protested the proposal when township commissioners first raised it in August 2012 while considering a zoning change to allow the group home in a residential area. They cited parking concerns, property values, potential for drugs and crime and a lack of public information about the project. They were told candidates for the group home would be carefully vetted and the program will not be a drug rehabilitation setting.
In a press release issued this week, Kim Eroh, CSIU family education manager, said Pinnacle Place will be staffed around the clock to help the women not only with parenting and child development skills, but also with job readiness and life skills like budgeting and setting goals.
"The staff will empower them to achieve the goals they set for themselves, whether it be getting a job or continuing with post-secondary education," Eroh said.
The program will serve women ages 18 to 22 from Columbia, Montour, Northumberland, Snyder and Union counties and they will be eligible based on other criteria, including homelessness.
"Being homeless can mean different things," Eroh said. "They can be displaced from home or sleeping on someone else's couch. Pinnacle Place will provide a safe, stable environment in which they and their children can learn and thrive."
She added that referrals to Pinnacle Place might come from school personnel and staff from community agencies.
The house, which is owned by CSO, was renovated over the last several months in preparation for the moms, moms-to-be and their children.
"While a lot has been done up to this point, much more needs to be completed prior to the opening," said CSO Community Action Agency Director Gale Zalar. "If anyone who has skills, knowledge or experience in a trade would like to assist with the final renovations, we would appreciate the help."
Together, the CSIU and CSO staff are committed to helping participants overcome the barriers that prevent them from being successful, so they can become productive members of the community and achieve self sufficiency. Eroh said she and other CSIU staff looked at models in other areas of the state prior to applying for the grant, and "it confirmed that we can make a difference in the lives of those we serve in this five-county area."
Up to four young women and their children may reside at the home at a time, from a minimum of six months to a maximum of 18 months. The grant is funded by the US Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families for five years.
Anyone interested in helping with renovations at Pinnacle Place can contact Gale at 570-644-6575 ext. 136 or Lisa Milbrand, project coordinator, at 570-644-6575 ext. 172.