Pathlight HOME Among Six Nonprofits Nationwide Selected for Community Partnership Award by the Mutual America Foundation

Pathlight HOME was recently selected alongside six nonprofits nationwide to earn the prestigious Community Partnership Award by the Mutual America Foundation. For the past 28 years, the award has selected organizations for their outstanding contributions to society in partnership with public, private, and other social sector organizations.

 

"The 2023 Community Partnership Award-winning programs offer creative and effective solutions that address persistent social, emotional, and physical issues affecting individuals and families in their communities across the country," said Lisa M. Loughry, Mutual of America Foundation Chair.

 

Pathlight HOME will receive a $50,000 award as part of the recognition. In May, Mutual of America Financial Group also honored the program's winners at a special celebration at its headquarters in New York City. 

 

The other honorees include Catalyst Kitchens, the LUCA Scholars Program, the Alaska Legal Services Corporation, the Auberle Employment Institute, and Open Door Mission.

 

Sara Wiencken, Vice President of Philanthropic Relations for the Mutual of America Foundation, added, "Mutual of America is honored to recognize the achievements of these outstanding, forward-thinking nonprofits as they work in collaboration with the public and private sectors to make a meaningful difference in the lives of those most in need."

A Silent Struggle: Mental Health and Housing Stability

Did you know? Approximately 20-30% of Americans experiencing homelessness live with a serious mental illness, compared to just 4-6% of the general population.

 

As we celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month this May, there’s no better time to shine a light on the reality of health and housing. Mental illness can be both a cause and consequence of homelessness, creating a complex cycle that can only be addressed through coordinated intervention and support.

 

Living with a mental illness can be alienating and overwhelming, making it difficult to hold down a stable job or maintain personal relationships. Many who need care for psychological conditions may not be able to access or afford it – an issue that disproportionately impacts Black, Hispanic, and Indigenous Americans, and especially men of color

 

Conversely, homelessness can exacerbate existing health problems, physical or psychological. Poor nutrition, unsafe living situations, lack of access to basic amenities for hygiene, and reduced social contact with friends and family all take a toll on well-being.

 

That’s why the Housing First approach is so critical – and why we put it into practice here at Pathlight HOME. Whether a person experiences homelessness due to mental illness or another factor – such as economic instability, domestic violence, emancipation from foster care, or family disputes – they can’t effectively recover from those setbacks until their basic needs of shelter and security are met. 

 

Stereotypes and stigma aren’t an answer to homelessness; they’re a barrier to overcome. Pathlight HOME gives people a safe place to stay long-term, without conditions or judgment. Once they have stability, they can work with a case manager to access care for health conditions, build a financial plan, and make progress toward an independent future.

  

You can help Central Floridians find their path to a long-term home by volunteering, donating household goods on our Resident Wish List, or making a financial contribution to our cause. To learn more about our mission, send us a message or give us a call at 407-521-6335. 

Pathlight HOME Announces Carl W. Falconer as New CEO

After a nationwide search, Pathlight HOME has named Carl W. Falconer as its new chief executive officer. 

 

As CEO of Pathlight HOME, Falconer will lead Central Florida’s first and largest provider of permanent supportive housing. Since its inception, Pathlight has helped house more than 7,000 individuals. The organization's core programs and services include permanent supportive housing, career training, and a drop-in center for those experiencing homelessness and mental illness.

 

“Carl W. Falconer is a visionary leader with three decades of experience in the public and private sectors, specializing in homelessness and human services,” shared Pathlight HOME Baord chair Jann Rigell. “ His dedication to driving positive social change and empowering individuals to achieve self-sufficiency reflects a deep-rooted commitment to creating a more equitable society.”

 

Falconer most recently served as CEO of Homeward Bound WNC in Asheville, NC. He also served as CEO of TaskForce Fore Ending Homelessness in Fort Lauderdale, where he led a dynamic team focused on serving the unsheltered homeless population in Broward County. Notable achievements include doubling agency funding in less than two years.

 

With a proven track record of leadership and innovation, Falconer also held leadership positions at the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance, where he led systemic changes that led to a two percent decrease in overall homelessness, and Lutheran Services Florida Health Systems, where he championed initiatives to maximize the impact of federal resources for housing and homeless services.

 

“I strongly believe we can end homelessness,” said Carl Falconer, CEO of Pathlight HOME. I am excited to find innovative ways to provide safe and affordable housing for those in need in our community.”

 

Falconer is an Army veteran with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Master of Public Administration from the University of North Florida. He is married with two wonderful children and a grand puppy. In his free time, Falconer enjoys the outdoors and attending football games.

Spring Cleaning for a Cause

Spring cleaning can be the perfect opportunity to declutter your home, reorganize your life, and start fresh for the days ahead … and at Pathlight HOME, it’s also a chance to change someone else’s life for the better. 

Although helping residents find safe, permanent housing is always step one of our approach, it’s only the beginning of a long journey toward stability. Once our residents have a roof over their heads, they still need essential day-to-day supplies … and that’s where the Pathlight Resource Center’s “marketplace” comes into play. 

 

Made possible by generous donations from the community, the marketplace is home to household goods, clothing, toiletries and other essentials, available to our residents at no cost as they furnish their new apartment.

As you embark on your spring (or summer, winter or fall) cleaning this year, there’s no better opportunity to double your impact by donating what you no longer need: 

  • Out of the Closet: If your closet is filled with clothing you haven’t worn in months (or years), consider passing it on to someone who needs it. Pathlight’s marketplace is especially in need of men’s clothing, walking shoes (size 8+), and umbrellas.

     

  • Around the House: Give your lightly used linens and household goods a new lease on life by helping a Pathlight resident furnish their new space. Great donation candidates include lamps, shower curtains and rings, sheet sets, pillows, comforters, throw blankets and mattress covers.

     

  • In the Kitchen: If it’s been a while since you last decluttered, you may find yourself with extra dishware, utensils, or household goods in need of a new home. Cooking pots and pans, can openers, Tupperware, and cutlery are all welcome donations at Pathlight’s marketplace.

     

  • Cleaning Up: Give someone else a fresh start in life by donating extra cleaning supplies and tools, including brooms, mops, trash cans and unopened cleaning products. These simple necessities can make a big difference!

Once you’ve gathered a load of household goods that you’re ready to give away (and double-checked that they’re clean and in good condition), stop by the Pathlight Resource Center’s marketplace on Monday, Wednesday or Friday from 2-4 p.m. to drop off your donations. 

 

Looking for more ways to help? You can also make a difference year-round by donating new and unopened essentials: toilet paper, paper towels, toothpaste, full-size toiletries, adult diapers, underwear, and canned goods for our food pantry. (Or save yourself a trip by making a financial donation or shopping high-need items on our AmazonSmile wish list.)

Growing for Good at Pathlight HOME’s Community Garden

Fresh tomatoes, fragrant herbs, and hopeful futures: All are growing steadily at Pathlight HOME’s community garden, where volunteers are planting seeds to cultivate a brighter tomorrow.

 

Originally launched in 2019 through a grant-funded partnership with Ideas for Us, the garden provides natural green space and fresh air at Maxwell Terrace, Pathlight HOME’s permanent housing apartment complex. And this spring, a team of volunteers is getting ready to reinvigorate the garden from the ground up.

 

“Not only is the garden a resource for Maxwell Terrace residents, but it’s also an opportunity to support Pathlight’s mission,” says Kennedy Shiley, Pathlight’s community engagement coordinator. “The fresh produce harvested here will be shared with our culinary program, so students can use them to create delicious meals.” 

 

Community gardens like the one at Maxwell Terrace play a big role in that movement by bringing natural food and hands-on learning closer to the table. 

 

By supporting Pathlight HOME’s culinary education program – an eight-week course open to Central Florida community members at no cost – the garden will also help students hone skills used in hospitality and food service industries that can bolster their future careers.

 

With the spring growing season underway, Kennedy and her team are currently recruiting volunteers to help sow, maintain, and harvest the garden throughout the year. She encourages those interested to get in touch: “If you have a passion for gardening, we’d love to hear from you!”

To learn more about the Maxwell Terrace garden and explore volunteer opportunities and other ways to support Pathlight HOME, contact Kennedy Shiley at kshiley@pathlighthome.org.

Lessons from Reverend Maxwell: Empowering Solutions in the Fight Against Homelessness

In honor of Black History Month, we want to recognize the remarkable contributions of our co-founder, Reverend Maxwell. As we honor his legacy, we can glean invaluable lessons from his journey in the ongoing battle against homelessness:

 

Prioritize a Dignity-Centered Approach. Reverend Maxwell taught us to recognize and respect every individual's inherent dignity and worth, regardless of circumstance. In our community, more than 2,000 people experience homelessness on any given night. That’s thousands of individuals who need a safe place to call home and the resources and support to help rebuild their lives. By walking alongside our clients, we empower them to take ownership of their journey.

 

Invest in Holistic Support Services. When Reverend Maxwell helped establish Pathlight HOME, he recognized that homelessness is more than a housing issue. That’s why we follow a housing-first approach that provides permanent housing and wraparound services to chronically homeless individuals.

Once our clients are housed, they can access case management services, mental health counseling, a food pantry, and a marketplace with essentials. By addressing the complex and interconnected challenges faced by individuals experiencing homelessness, we can break the cycle to achieve long-term stability.

 

Foster Community Engagement and Collaboration. Reverend Maxwell had an innate ability to mobilize community support and forge partnerships. Because the issues we face in our community don’t occur in isolation, we must take a collaborative approach to the solution. We can develop sustainable strategies and amplify our impact by leveraging our collective resources, expertise, and networks.

Incorporating these lessons from Reverend Maxwell's legacy can help us cultivate a community where every individual has the opportunity to thrive and lead a life of purpose.

Orlando Magic Volunteers Serve Pathlight HOME During Week of Service

In recognition of Martin Luther King Jr Day and during its annual Week of Service, staff members from the Orlando Magic recently partnered with Pathlight HOME to serve meals for residents at our Maxwell Gardens Apartments.

 

“Addressing the many factors of homelessness in our community requires continued collaboration and wrap-around support,” said Babette Allen, CEO of Pathlight HOME. “We’re incredibly grateful to the Orlando Magic for their dedication and commitment to take action.”

 

Pathlight HOME focuses on changing the lives of those experiencing homelessness and hardship by providing access to housing, support services and career training. The organization's core programs and services include permanent supportive housing, career training and a drop-in center for those experiencing homelessness and mental illness.

 

“The Orlando Magic are thrilled to once again join Pathlight HOME to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. through service to our community,” said Magic Executive Vice President of Marketing and Social Responsibility Shelly Wilkes. “Working with Pathlight HOME to help provide a meal was the perfect way to model Dr. King and all that he stood for. The Magic take great pride in helping to serve our community in whatever way possible, and we thank Pathlight for welcoming us into their HOME.”

From Second Chances to Culinary Triumph: Julien’s Story

Julien is a graduate of the Pathlight HOME Culinary Training Program.

 

 But achieving this milestone in his life wasn’t an easy path. 

 

When Julien recently earned his culinary certifications, the moment was more than a culmination of eight weeks of training. It represented clarity, resilience and determination after decades of hardship. 

 

Born and raised in Orlando, Julien faced many challenges early in life, including falling into the wrong crowd and struggling with a lack of direction. Despite these hurdles, he found his calling in the world of culinary arts. 

 

Reflecting on his transformative experience, Julien shared, "I asked God to come into my life and change me. I gave Him complete control." This declaration marked the beginning of his remarkable journey to redemption and success.

In fact, shortly after is when someone made the recommendation that he enroll as a student for the Pathlight HOME Culinary Traning program.

 

"Pathlight was God-sent," he said, emphasizing the program's impact on his life. Under Chef Esteban and Shiela's mentorship, he honed his culinary skills and discovered a supportive community that believed in his potential. 

 

"They were there for me,” Julien shared. “A lot of times, you find hardships after you’re incarcerated. People shut doors on you and ignore you. But this program opened doors and believed in my potential."

 

As a recent program graduate, Julien is now employed as a grill cook at AdventHealth, a role he describes as fulfilling and enriching. "It’s everything you want in a career," he said.

 

And he’s not done yet. 

 

Julien plans to continue his culinary education, focusing on dietary nutrition. In addition, he has aspirations to open multiple smokehouse restaurants and create a nonprofit that supports single parents and children. 

 

Julien embodies the power of perseverance. His story reminds us that with determination, support, and a touch of faith, anyone can transform their life, one step at a time.

Celebrating Culinary Success: Valerie’s Story

For nearly 30 years, Valerie drove tractor-trailers until an injury left her unable to work. 

 

Not one to settle, her entrepreneurial desire to launch a food truck business led her to the Pathlight HOME Culinary Training Program. 

 

“I want to build a legacy for my family,” said Valerie. “When I learned about this program, I just had to take advantage.”

 

Valerie stood out as a star student. Throughout the eight-week course, she maintained perfect attendance, learned about food safety, banquet dining skills and new recipes. 

 

“Aside from being a great human being, Valerie is the let’s go do it, person,” Chef Esteban shared about his time leading her cohort. “She was always motivated and eager to learn new things and techniques and help her community. Valerie has so much potential in her!”

 

One of Valerie’s favorite part of the course was being exposed to how to eat and cook with fresh vegetables and herbs. “I eat artichoke now!” she shared. Valerie’s new skills  led her to start her own garden of sage, thyme and mint. 

 

“If you want to succeed, you can,” said Valerie. “This programs helped me press on and keep moving forward.”

 

For nine years, the Pathlight HOME Culinary Training Program has transformed the lives of hundreds of students.

Partner Spotlight: Grosvenor Services

For more than 30 years, Pathlight HOME has been committed to ending homelessness and changing the lives of underserved individuals in our community. To support our efforts, we’re grateful for the many partners who work alongside us who also believe in our mission. 

 

Grosvenor Services – a cleaning and facilities management company – has been a key partner in our work.

 

“Pathlight HOME is an organization that is creating real change now,” says Rita T. McCauley, CEO of Grosvenor Services. “They are an inspiration and a true gift to our community.”

 

What started as a tour, has turned into more than two years of continuous support and investment. Grosvenor serves as a partner of Pathlight’s supportive employment program, which provides the opportunity for Pathlight clients to participate in a paid internship to build and strengthen their workplace skills.

 

What started as a tour, has turned into more than two years of continuous support and investment. For instance, Grosvenor serves as a partner of Pathlight’s supportive employment program, which allows a client to participate in a paid internship, so they build and strengthen their workplace skills. 

 

“Providing access to housing is just the first step in addressing and ending homelessness,” adds Babette Allen, CEO of Pathlight HOME. “True transformation happens with the wrap-around support we provide, like access to mental health counseling, our employment center and even our culinary training program. And because of organizations like Grosvenor Services, we can continue to serve the whole individual and guide them toward a life of self-sufficiency and stability.

 

To schedule a virtual tour and learn more about our programs and services, email info@pathlighthome.org.