TO ASSIST PATHWAYS DROP IN CENTER call Lt. Deanne Adams at 407-448-8301
The following information is quoted with permission from the Orlando Sentinel blog of Bruce Larson. I had the good fortune of crossing his blog on the Sentinel and then posting a few comments. He saw that we enjoy working with various charities and sent me a note saying I should check out this post. I have to agree with Bruce, this is a very noteworthy charity. It’s tragically underfunded and so I’m going to champion it a bit on the internet to help raise awareness in the Greater Central Florida area.
As many of you locals may be aware, Central Florida is home to many homeless as our temperatures are much milder and more hospitable to someone transient or living outdoors. As the mental institutions began to release their clients, more and more folks were homeless or found themselves with inadequate housing and moreso inadequate resources for mental health related issues.
Now we’re all familiar with groups like Coalition for the Homeless, Habitat for Humanity (don’t they have a great home building thrift in Sanford?) … and certainly we’ve donated in the past to the Rescue Outreach Mission in Sanford (Seminole County’s only homeless food kitchen!)… but have we forgotten about this underserved population.
Okay, okay, I admit to having a bleeding heart. I am typing with tears in my eyes, thinking about how many of my friends are raising money for Cancer Awareness (and that is so important- doesn’t my family know it- keep praying for Eric’s miracle- thank you) or the MDA Lockup but wondering how many know about this organization? Back in the day when I was young, cute, a size 8 and worked as a social worker – in fact my title was Intensive Crisis Counselor of Lake and Sumter Counties (try saying that quickly three times) I had real issues finding resources for my mentally ill clients. It was one thing to get a diagnosis, another hope to get social security funding and an entirely other hope to get them in a stable home environment.
So, I pray that you will consider sharing what little you have. This isn’t a charity that drives around in Cadillacs, in fact most of their monies go to running the drop-in center and providing for these folks. We all have family that needs help- isn’t it time that we give back to the community? If I gave up just one Big Mac a week and encouraged five of my friends to do that and they encouraged five of their friends (geez, I wish I’d been a math teacher way back- speak up here Chris and Cindy if you’re around) then that would add another $500 to the weekly budget then well we’d really be helping out.
I recently posted a blog about the statistics on volunteering in Orlando. According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, Orlando ranked 49th of the nation’s 50 largest cities (1st being the highest level of volunteers and 50th the lowest).
However, while visiting the Pathways Drop-In Center on Friday, those statistics were hard to believe. The outpouring of community action was evident as church groups, contractors, corporations and individuals came to the aid of this non-profit organization for mental illness.
Organized by Lt. Deanne Adams of the Orange County Correctional Department and Karen Bono, an Orlando real estate investor, the Pathways Renovation Project saw a healthy start. More than fifty members of the First Baptist Church of Central Florida sent carpenters, plumbers, painters and general helpers to assist in this much needed program.
Local companies also offered their assistance. Arby’s and Long John Silvers provided lunches, Massey Services pledged to furnish pest control, Ace Hardware contributed paint and other supplies. Home Depot and Rexel Lighting donated home improvement items, Old Castle laid the bricks and mortar while Waste Services of Florida dropped off and picked up several 40 yard waste containers full of broken tables, torn and stained sofas, and yard debris.
Donald, who is better known as “Bear,” has suffered from severe depression for over 7 years. He saw no hope to do much of anything. When he returned the other day from Bible study, Bear entered his apartment and his expression radiated with excitement. Almost immediately, he began listing the things he wanted to do with his remodeled home, things that just didn’t matter to him before.
Edwin, another resident, was glad to see all these improvements. “It was depressing to be here,” he said, “it’s good to see all these nice things happening at Pathways and all the people who are volunteering their time.” Edwin was relieved that the tree roots that made it difficult for those confined to a wheelchair to maneuver over were removed and replaced by bricks.
Ruth and her son, Kevin, live in the apartment adjacent to Edwin’s. She, too, said that she feels better about the center and about her home now. They didn’t have a kitchen before, but the renovation project is installing one for them and while the apartment is disorganized right now, Ruth can envision what it will look like on completion.
Debbie Ferree, one of the volunteers from First Baptist Church of Central Florida, finds a great deal of satisfaction from donating her time. “I love helping people and I hope this work serves as a testimony to the community.”
“All of our volunteers receive more than we give. It is only when you give that you can receive,” Clayton Cloer, Senior Pastor at the church explained. “It is the open hand principle. God can’t place anything into a closed hand. Our people open their hand to give and God fills the hand with blessings. We are reminded of how blessed we all are every time we serve someone else.” Cloer also called upon the community for continued support. “We pray that the blessings of God will come upon the Pathways ministry. We pray that the community will step up and supply all the needs that the ministry has so that our beloved fellow citizens can be cared for.”
Alternative Community Service Workers and the Work Release Inmates have also been helping out with the project under the direction of Community Corrections Officer Duane Chamberlain. They have been putting in hundreds of man hours painting, cleaning, and yard work to help with the project,” according to Lt. Deanne Adams of the Orange County Correctional Department.
On Saturday, we returned to the center and found an even greater number of volunteers working in every area of the four buildings. A few familiar faces were back again and many more new ones came to contribute to this worthy cause.
Founder and Director of the Pathways Drop-In Center, Nelson Kull, toured the progress of the project on Saturday. Suffering from schizophrenia himself, Kull expressed his profound appreciation for all those who are helping.
Still, the work is far from completed. Some of those who said they would come to help or contribute supplies, failed to honor their obligation. This caused the project to reach deeper into their funds than they had originally expected. Furthermore, the lives of the residents and drop-ins are disrupted. They like familiar things and familiar surroundings. While the renovations are welcomed, they want to get their newly remodeled residences set back up again. Presently, plumbing is being reworked, furniture has been pushed to the center of the rooms and some kitchen cabinets are removed waiting for replacements.
Adams said that “this has been the hardest project I have ever worked on in my life, but one of the most rewarding. It’s my hope that the community will continue to see the incredible need at the Pathways Center and want to reach out their hand to a hand in need.”
HOW TO DONATE Please contact Karen Bono at 407-760-9033 or Lt. Deanne Adams at 407-448-8301 for further information. Monetary donations may be mailed to: NAMI Greater Orlando, 1800 Mercy Drive, Suit 103, Checks may be made out to Pathways Renovation Project.
Pathways Drop-In Center and the Pathways Renovation Project are 501(c)3 non-profit organizations and your donations are tax deductible.
So are you looking for a tax deduction? Feeling like you would like to donate to a worthwhile charity in Orlando, Altamonte, Oviedo, Winter Springs, College Park please do donate – encourage your employer and workplace to donate. Encourage your child’s private school, public school, daycare and church to donate. Give freely, give generously and live. For if we lived in a cave by ourselves how could we enjoy life and how could we share the beauty which is ours.
One Fat Frog •2416 Sand Lake Road • Orlando, FL • 407-480-3409