Community Partner Spotlight: Orlando Magic Day of Service

We recently had the opportunity to see these words in action on Martin Luther King Jr Day when the Orlando Magic partnered with us on a beautification project at Maxwell Terrace Apartments. 

 

“Community partners play an integral part in making a lasting impact on those we serve,” said Babette Allen, CEO of Pathlight HOME. “We’re incredibly grateful to the Orlando Magic for their commitment to taking action and showing what good can be done when we come together to support our community.”

Following Hurricane Ian, more than 90 apartment units were flooded at Maxwell Terrace. To help with the restoration and clean up of the community, more than 20 Orlando Magic team members volunteered to help paint, garden and clean up the community. 

 

“The Orlando Magic are honored to join Pathlight HOME to recognize and celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. through service to our community,” said Magic Executive Vice President of Marketing and Social Responsibility Shelly Wilkes. “Working to help Pathlight HOME beautify their neighborhood is part of the fabric of our organization and helps us achieve our mission to be World Champions both on and off the court. We are thrilled to join them today in lifting up our neighbors and providing them with a place they can feel pride in.”


To learn more about how you can support Pathlight HOME, visit https://pathlighthome.org.

Pathlight Seasons 2022: Housewarming Celebration

During our recent Pathlight Seasons event, we spread some much needed holiday cheer, providing hot meals and gifts to more than 80 residents at Maxwell Terrace Apartments.

 

The celebration was extra special as some of the gifts helped residents refurnish their homes after losing so much after Hurricane Ian. After the storm, more than 90 apartment units were flooded at Maxwell Terrace Apartments – temporarily displacing residents and leaving them without essentials like mattresses, furniture, towels and clothing. 

 

“We’re so thankful to the community for their support in helping us make this celebration even more meaningful to our residents,” said Babette Allen, president of Pathlight HOME. “It takes time to rebuild, and this is just one way we can share our compassion and care for the people we serve each day.”

 

The annual Pathlight Season celebration is held for residents who are part of our permanent supportive housing programs. In addition to housing, they have access to case management services, economic and job opportunities, a food pantry, mental health programs and more.  

 

Dozens of community members donated gifts to make the celebration a success. To learn more about how you can support Pathlight HOME, visit https://pathlighthome.org.



An Opportunity to Grow!

Tameka is a determined woman, mother, employee and student, motivated by what feels right for her and her daughter to succeed. And graduating from our Pathlight Kitchen Culinary Training Program was the perfect step for her, at the perfect time.

 

After graduating high school, Tameka entered the retail industry. There, she worked so hard and in so many different positions that customers began calling her the name of the establishment! But something was amiss. After 20 years in retail, Tameka knew she had to move on; that was not what she wanted to do for life.

 

A new job providing cell phones in the homeless and senior communities brought her into our Pathlight HOME Employment Center. In what can only be described as “meant to be,” her job helping others contact their family became SO much more. It led her to meet with our Employment Manager, Fernando, and Employment Counselor, Belinda, and find our Culinary Training Program through them. “Getting into cell phones led me back here…a place where I can feel at home…to hunt for an opportunity,” she says.

 

“God gave me this opportunity,” says Tameka. “I needed a skill…I needed a win…and before I even finished class, I got a job at a 5-Star Hotel that has a lot of restaurants!” She loves her job and is extremely appreciative that both her employer and Chef Esteban were willing to modify schedules, so she could complete the class while working, and made certain to be at each place on time and with a smile. Her daughter, who preferred fast-food, would now rather eat at home. Tameka knows how to marinate, sear, chop, use herbs and spices, and much more, thanks to Chef Esteban. “He’s awesome!” says this single mom who is now cooking with joy. “I upgraded myself…and am still learning.”

 

Tameka’s goals for the future start with her daughter, who is her pride, heart, and reason for doing everything. Getting ready to enter college to study computer science and engineering, her daughter is an Advanced Placement and Honors student whom Tameka wants to help get a good head start. She also plans to start a mother-daughter business to sell their artwork and to invest in the community. “I can’t stop now; I’ve got to keep going,” she says of her journey. “My future is as bright as the stars and moon in a dark sky.” With her drive, caring heart, and willingness to take on new opportunities, we think that future is brighter than the whole solar system!

They Change People’s Lives Here…

Carolyn’s childhood stopped abruptly when she was in the tenth grade and her father walked out on the family. “I learned to protect the family,” she says. At first both working and going to school, she eventually dropped out to work full-time and help her mother support her four sisters and two brothers.   

 

Marrying a wonderful man in 1979, they bought a home in Tangelo Park. Carolyn began working for Orlando Regional Medical Center, first in the laundry for five years and then in the kitchen for the next 25 years. “I did everything in the kitchen. I learned to make fruited Jello; I made everything they served and went to every spot. They always called on me [when others were out].” She laments that, though they had classes, she worked so much she never had time to get her ServSafe Food Handler Certification…and never learned to debone a chicken!

 

When Carolyn’s husband died in 2011, after 32 years of a happy marriage, she went into a major depression. Adding to her heartbreak, an unfortunate retirement investment her husband made during the real estate debacle a few years earlier caused her to lose her home in 2012. That’s when she found Maxwell Terrace and moved in.

 

Giving the credit to her church and faith in God, Carolyn’s deep depression subsided, even after learning in 2019 that she needed dialysis three days per week. She started taking advantage of the new services at Maxwell Terrace. Through the Marketplace, “I can clean my apartment better with the products. The food, bedding, pots and pans, spiritual books and clothes…,” she says gratefully. And she’s thrilled with the assistance from Fernando in our Employment Center, through which she plans to earn her GED, construct a resume and, hopefully, get a part-time job. “I’ve got a lot planned for this year,” she boasts.  

 

Yet, nothing is as fulfilling as having just completed our Pathlight Kitchen Culinary Training Program and, after all her years working in the kitchen, earning her Food Handler Certificate and Food Allergen Certificate. “That is the greatest thing in my life,” she says. “They accepted me, even with the dialysis. Chef Esteban said ‘Your health is more important.’” He worked one-on-one to make sure she was on par with the class. “He respected me. I really learned a lot…sauces, gravies, deboning” and so much more! She loves Chef and Fernando so much, that “I’m going to take the hospitality class they’re giving.”

 

“They change people’s lives here, one life at a time,” says Carolyn. “People here spread faith by showing love and helping.” We’re so glad her faith opened her up to let us in!

Pathlight HOME Receives 2022 Florida Blue Sapphire Award

PATHLIGHT HOME RECEIVES $100,000 FLORIDA BLUE SAPPHIRE AWARD

 

First in Health Equity

 

            Orlando, Florida, 5 May, 2022 – Pathlight HOME, an innovator in supportive housing and vocational training,  was announced last night as the first-place winner of the 17th Annual Florida Blue Foundation Sapphire Awards.  The organization was presented with a check for $100,000 to continue developing and implementing innovative programs to improve health equity in Central Florida.

             Celebrating its 30th anniversary later this year, Pathlight HOME pioneered the transformation of former motel properties into fresh, secure, and affordable efficiency units of supportive housing for Orlando’s homeless population.  Over the past quarter century, Pathlight has assisted more than 7,000 people who have experienced homelessness, and 95% of Pathlight residents, past and present, report better health, greater ability to function independently, and an improved outlook on life as a result of the organization’s efforts. 

            The Florida Blue Foundation is the philanthropic affiliate of Florida Blue, the state’s Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plan.  Since 2005, the Foundation has presented 130 Sapphire Awards totaling more than $6.3 million to honor and support community programs, coalitions, and solutions that directly contribute to better health outcomes. 

 

Pathlight HOME Sapphire Award Video.

Florida Blue Press Release. 

Pathlight HOME Receives 2022 Community Impact Award

PATHLIGHT HOME RECEIVES $200,000 COMMUNITY IMPACT AWARD

 

Will Double Workforce Development Outcomes

 

 

Orlando, Florida, 19 April, 2022 – Pathlight HOME, an innovator in supportive housing and vocational training, today received a three-year, $200,000 Community Impact Grant from AdventHealth.

 

The highly-competitive awards program for Central Florida drew hundreds of applications from non-profit organizations in Orange, Osceola, and Seminole Counties. 

 

Celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, Pathlight HOME pioneered the transformation of former motel properties into fresh, secure, and affordable efficiency units of supportive housing for Orlando’s homeless population.  The commercial kitchen of one of Pathlight’s “born-again” motel properties is now a training center offering hands-on instruction in basic culinary arts.  More than 100 graduates have earned certifications in food preparation and transitioned to entry-level jobs.  They include formerly homeless people, women escaping domestic abuse, young people transitioning out of foster care, and people living with mental illness or physical disabilities.

 

Training is offered free of charge.  The AdventHealth award will enable Pathlight to expand the program and double its annual outcomes.

 

AdventHealth’s Central Florida Division encompasses 18 hospitals and ERs in the six counties in and surrounding metro Orlando.  The world-class hospitals, combined with a comprehensive outpatient care network, have logged more than 3.4 million inpatient encounters and more than 5.7 million outpatient visits annually.

I’m a Better Person Now

Most students take our Pathlight Kitchen Culinary Training Program as an entrance into the delicious career of food service. Some, such as Amanda, have even broader goals. And though she graduated back in December 2018, she remembers the experience like it was yesterday.

 

When Amanda applied, Chef Esteban said the class was full, unfortunately, so she prayed…and prayed. Two days later, her prayers were answered! A spot opened and she could start her cooking journey! “It was meant to be,” she says.

 

What started as her desire to learn to be a better cook, get her certification, obtain employment or open up a business became so much more. She has started writing a book and has been using what she learned to give back in the community. “I’m a better person now… [the class] made me step up in who I was. I even learned to be on time!” So just how did our culinary training do all that for Amanda?

 

Amanda shares that she learned not only the mechanics of cooking, but the importance of sanitation and cleanliness, ingredient labeling, improvising as needed, meal presentation, problem solving, and helping others. She believes that, if she went anywhere else, she would not have learned so much about respect, teamwork, believing in oneself, and trouble-shooting, in addition to the hard skills. She credits Chef Esteban and Shannelle (now working in our Restore Program) with teaching in a positive, kind and caring manner. They went the “extra mile,” encouraging confidence in their students. Upon graduation, Amanda felt she could, “take on the planet.”

 

Amanda didn’t realize the depth of her passion for helping others. She now uses that passion and all else she discovered to prepare meals and help others through her church and community organizations, such as the Midnight Angel Prayer Warriors. She encourages those seeking a career to take advantage of our Pathlight Kitchen course and learn about the culinary path. “It’ll be life-changing,” she says. “They’ll be a better person!”

International Women’s Week 2022

Juanita Paul

Juanita Paul

Juanita Paul, our Senior Property Manager, came to Pathlight HOME nearly 14 years ago with tax preparation and accounting experience under her belt. Starting as a temporary employee and then moving to an administrative position, Juanita’s desire and talent for learning the many aspects of leasing and property management propelled her to grow within our organization. “It’s everything,” she says of what her present responsibilities entail, including “keeping our units occupied, walking the property, ensuring that the appearance is top-notch and the facilities are maintained.” She credits her great team as the key essence to being able to succeed in her position, which she unabashedly loves. Juanita is motivated most by meeting people, interacting with residents, listening to their suggestions, and making sure all are “happily housed.” Juanita feels appreciated by our residents for truly caring about their surroundings and doing her all for them. She, in turn, appreciates them! #WomenBehindPathlightHOME

Gabriella Trevino

Gabriella Trevino is our Community Engagement & Development Manager. With us since November 2019, she has led our Volunteer and Development endeavors to new heights. Motivated by purpose, compassion and energy, Gabriella says she has never had her heart “so into another job.” Her excitement about being at Pathlight HOME is rooted in the fact that she can see the “real and true” impact of how we help formerly homeless residents. In addition to permanent housing, she is passionate about our ever-growing Marketplace - which was developed through her creativity. There, residents select donated food and goods to make their efficiency unit a home. As she has interacted with them and experienced their smiles, Gabriella’s perspective of what is important to them changed. “It’s the simple things,” she says. That understanding has guided her volunteer and development pursuits to help residents change their lives in stable and secure surroundings. 

 

Amiya Santiago

Amiya Santiago is our Accounts Clerk. Joining Pathlight HOME in July 2021, she has the responsibility to review and file invoices in the Accounting Office. Amiya communicates with the different departments to “make sure we got what we paid for” and submits invoices for approval. A young adult seeking employment herself, Amiya says “This place found me through mutual contacts.” She likes knowing that we are about finding people who need help and “giving them our best.” Though she generally works with numbers, she can feel our mission permeate everything we do. And when she helped with December’s resident party and actually experienced the look of joy on so many faces, she couldn’t wait to do more “hands on” work. Amiya credits Pathlight HOME, her grandma, and a family of nurses with her desire go back to school, “help people,” and eventually work in the community, perhaps in criminal justice. 

 

Miscindy Taylor

Miscindy Taylor is the Assistant Lead Case Manager for our Restore Program. She joined the Pathlight HOME team nearly seven years ago as a Life Enhancement Specialist. Ironically, at that time, Miscindy was studying to become a medical office administrator, but her work with a homeless ministry at her church thankfully pulled her in our direction. Miscindy now has supervisory duties and also offers residents a monthly, information-packed session called, “What’s the 411?” Yet, most of her talent is still directed to working one-on-one with clients, guiding them to the resources needed to change their lives. What pulls on her heartstrings is “seeing residents succeed in overcoming challenges.” What inspires her is, “Knowing I had a hand in it.” She is excited about our growth and the new programs available; and is driven by the fact that our Founder/CEO and President are women. “There are good steps to follow!” 

 

Kiara Williams

Kiara Williams is an Employment Counselor in our Employment Center. She joined Pathlight HOME in July 2021, driving more than an hour each morning. When a job close to home arose in January, Kiara was pulled in two directions. She “just couldn’t leave” us. Our mission, what we do, whom we serve, and our impact on the community were embedded in her heart. But, economics had to come first for this single mom and she made the tough decision to leave. Not so fast, we said, as her part-time schedule with us took root. Kiara’s passion is helping people, whether due to her mom, her Human Resources Management degree, or the nine Army years that “molded” her. She is dedicated to getting clients into the working sector, putting smiles on their faces and referring them to services as needed. “This job makes me feel like I have a purpose.” 

Black History Month Spotlight – Fernando Beaubrun

Fernando has made history at Pathlight HOME one of the first-ever employees of our Employment Center. Ever since the exciting and essential service opened in July 2020, this warm and experienced professional has helped lead the charge to provide job search resources to the community.

 

Fernando knew from his early career days in Homestead, Florida that he wanted to “help people have better lives.” In his position at Job Corps, that inner drive helped him create a partnership to further his young adult clients’ education. It then propelled him to opportunities at CareerSource South Florida, helping adults navigate the job pursuit process. Interestingly, Fernando then changed course. He went into law enforcement, until he realized, “I did more good helping with employment and education.” We’re sure glad of that!

 

Though a pandemic may not seem the best time to start a new nonprofit endeavor, Covid-19’s layoffs made job search assistance all the more crucial in our community. Thanks to Fernando’s knowledge and zeal, a generous Orange County grant, a plan and dream, and much staff commitment, the Pathlight HOME Employment Center was born. What started for Fernando as “a large empty room, a reception desk, and two computers” has grown to serve between 104 and 130 people per week, all distanced and masked for Covid protection. Computers, one-on-one help and a training room are available; and the list of services and trainings is extensive.

 

Fernando talks with pride about his team, our clients, the new partnerships with three corporations that provide intern experiences, and the “Shining Month” when 62 people got hired. He grins sheepishly when asked which Employment Center offering is his highlight and admits he’s partial to collaborating with our Pathlight Kitchen Culinary Training Program. There, he interviews and orients students and meets with them before each class to help with life skills needed for success.

 

Fernando says he likes that the students are excited about what they learn. We think what he REALLY likes are the delicious aromas coming from the kitchen and the cooking tips!

It’s a Pathway to Life!

With the holiday season upon us, Pathlight HOME knew it was the perfect time to say “thank you” to those who have so generously supported us all year long. You have helped so many whose lives are changing, such as our Maxwell Terrace resident, Alphonso.

 

Alphonso was raring to go to college on a wrestling scholarship, when his life changed forever. At the young age of 18, he was hit by a drunk driver. The crash resulted in a multitude of surgeries, the loss of one leg, and pins throughout the other leg. Not only was his dream lost, but he was ready to give up on life. Only the love and encouragement of his mother pulled him from the depths of despair. “Just by her being there and talking to me,” he recalls. That was 1990.

 

For Alphonso, learning to walk with a prosthetic was freeing, yet painful. He took on some seasonal work, learned to drive and to ride a bicycle and, sadly, got shot when he went to visit his dad in Ft. Pierce. Then, Alphonso wasn’t able to work at all.

 

In 1992, “I found someone who wanted me,” he reminisces. Together, they had four children, changing his entire outlook on life. “They were my light and heart,” he emotes. “They gave me a sense of living…made me feel whole again.”

 

Over the next 13 years, he had four more children with another partner. He found himself needing somewhere to live on his disability income. But where? What could he afford? Thanks to his nephew, he found Maxwell Terrace!

 

Today, Alphonso is a happy man! I never thought I’d be in my own place,” he says. Not only does he thank the Lord, but he is grateful for those who have donated items to our Marketplace and for our entire Resource Center. Almost disbelieving, he shares that he got a microwave, dishes, bedding, hygiene items, food, cookware and shoes! In fact, thanks to the Marketplace, a few longtime friends and some family, he now has, “Stuff to make my apartment look like home.”

 

His appreciation for Pathlight HOME staff and services could light up a room! He is thankful that his case manager, Henry, is able to assist with bus passes for medical appointments; that Gabriella helps with food and needed items; and that Belinda is there to greet him with a smile. “The whole staff is awesome; it’s a blessing. They’ve got all kinds of services, all kinds of resources,” he says.

 

“It’s a pathway to life,” says Alphonso. “People just need to apply themselves. It changed my life tremendously.”