OHOP awards $10K to shelter

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    This year's OHOP winners (from left):Christina Riley and Kelly Seleyman of Willow Place; Amanda Kavars and Molly Harty of Second Harvest Food Bank; and Caitlin Evans of More Than Conquerors. Submitted

    PENDLETON — The women of OHOP have spoken.

    Open Hearts, Open Purses — a giving circle led by South Madison Community Foundation — voted during its annual banquet June 10 to award Willow Place its main grant of $10,550.

    Story continues below photos.

    Willow Place is an emergency homeless shelter for women located in Anderson. It serves women experiencing homelessness for various reasons, including poverty, abuse and addiction.
    “We are over the moon about the grant,” Willow Place founder and Executive Director Kelly Seleyman said on Tuesday. “I could cry even now just thinking about it.”
    The OHOP awards event, which featured presentations by the three grant finalists, took place at The Edge in Anderson.
    The amount awarded to Willow Place exceeded OHOP’s top grant of $10,000 after the Junior OHOP program (for participants younger than 18) also voted to steer its $25-per-particpant total to the shelter.
    The funds will be used to expand the facility’s fire suppression system so the shelter can serve more women.
    Seleyman said Willow Place, which opened in September 2019, offers emergency shelter in a communal setting for up to 10 women; the OHOP grant will help Willow Place add space with greater privacy for up to a dozen more women, including those with children. That would enable the shelter to offer additional services as people transition toward independent living.
    More Than Conquerors, a Pendleton non-profit that offers various programs for families, and Second Harvest Food Bank of East Central Indiana each received OHOP finalist grants of $2,850.
    To raise the money for the grants, each OHOP member donates $100.
    The first 100 donations fund the main grant; beyond that, donations are split between the two finalists not chosen for the main grant. This year, 157 women participated in OHOP.
    The community foundation also awarded its first OHOP Endowment Jump Start Grant ($1,000).
    It presented the grant to East Central Indiana Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), which serves Madison County. The money will be used to support volunteer recruitment efforts.
    CASA is a non-profit organization that serves abused and neglected children.
    “CASA works with volunteer advocates who provide hundreds of neglected, abused and exploited children with a voice in the court, and a friend in the court process,” according to the organization’s website. “A CASA volunteer works for the best interests of abused and neglected children by looking over a child’s case and making recommendations to the judge. CASA volunteers help children move into safe, permanent homes. These children need and deserve to have their voice heard in court.”
    For more information about OHOP, visit SouthMadisonFoundation.org, email [email protected] or call 765-778-8444.