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.

Kevin Poole: Board Member Announcement

Please join us in welcoming Kevin D. Poole, MSW, LNHA as a new board member of Pathlight HOME. Kevin currently serves as Executive Director of Support Operations for AdventHealth, where he leads the hospital’s performance improvement initiatives as well as various crisis and issues management.

 

Kevin D. Poole, MSW, LNHA Biography

 

Kevin D. Poole, MSW, LNHA currently serves as Executive Director of Support Operations for AdventHealth. In his role, he leads the hospital’s performance improvement initiatives as well as various crisis and issues management.

 

Prior to AdventHealth, he served as Executive Director for the Life Care Center of Jacksonville, a senior living facility. His expertise includes experience managing and overseeing administrative functions and compliance for hospital systems, rehabilitation centers and related healthcare facilities across the country.

 

Poole earned a master's degree in social work and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Adventist University-Collegedale. 

Transforming Lives: Celeste's Story

A Journey of Resilience

Celeste's path to Pathlight HOME was marked by unfortunate circumstances, as she found herself forced to leave a challenging domestic situation. 

 

For weeks she struggled to find affordable housing, eventually finding herself unhoused and finding refuge with friends. Those few weeks turned into two years without a place to call home. 

 

“At this point, an air mattress was what I had to call my own,” shares Celeste.

 

In addition to difficulty finding housing, Celeste also manages a number of chronic health conditions. While at the hospital, it was there she first learned about Pathlight HOME. 

 

 

Discovering Pathlight HOME

After making a full recovery, Celeste was inspired by the chance at a new opportunity. She immediately applied for Pathlight’s Restore program, which is dedicated to providing permanent supportive housing for former chronically homeless and disabled individuals.

 

“I didn’t think I would get approved,” says Celeste. “But I remember that day like it was yesterday. I got the call while standing in line at the grocery store and I couldn’t believe it.”

 

This unforgettable moment marked the beginning of a new chapter. 

A Welcoming Community and Supportive Services

Transitioning out of homelessness comes with its own set of challenges.

 

“I had nothing,” says Celeste. “But when I started working with Pathlight, they helped me get a new mattress, bed sheets, cups and more.”

 

Celeste shares that she vividly remembers “kissing the walls” because she finally had her sanctuary … her safe space … her home. 

 

In addition to housing, Celeste receives case management services that have empowered her to navigate various challenges, offering guidance, support, and resources to ensure her ongoing well-being. Additionally, the on-site medical services, such as regular blood pressure checks and weight monitoring, have helped Celeste manage her health conditions effectively.

 

“There’s no explanation for what it feels to have the support I have at Pathlight,” adds Celeste. “I used to wonder where I was going to sleep each night. Now, I am at peace. I can open my door and lock it. I can sleep in my bed.”  

 

Celeste's journey from homelessness to finding solace at Pathlight HOME is a testament to the transformative power of compassion and community. Through the support of Pathlight HOME's services, Celeste has not only refocused her life but also discovered her own resilience and strength. 

 

“I am so grateful to be where I am now,” adds Celeste. “I am blessed.”

 

With a housing-first philosophy rooted in compassion and love, Pathlight HOME believes in providing individuals with a stable home as the foundation for their journey to rebuilding their lives. Once residents are housed, we become a supportive partner, empowering them to make their own decisions and take ownership of their unique journeys.

Learn more about our impact

Celebrating Two Years of Impact Through Pathways Drop-In Center

Pathlight HOME offers an abundance of resources for the unhoused. Our core programs and services empower individuals to achieve housing and economic stability. 

 

In July 2021, driven by a shared dedication to serve the unhoused and guide them toward housing solutions, we acquired Pathways Drop In Center.

 

The drop-in center is the only facility in Orange County that specifically addresses the needs of, and provides vital services free of charge to those with serious mental illnesses who are unhoused or at risk of losing their homes. Through Pathways, we provide access to meals, showers, laundry, peer support groups and employment services.

 

For Pathways member Deborah, the drop-in center not only provides access to basic essentials, but it is a place where she has found solace and community. 

 

“There’s always someone to talk to,” shares Deborah. “Whether it’s group therapy or outings with other members, you’re never alone.”

 

Looking ahead, we have exciting plans to renovate and expand Pathways Drop-In Center. This expansion will enable the center to better meet the growing needs of Central Florida, while continuing to provide critical services to unhoused individuals living with mental illnesses.

 

To learn more about  volunteer opportunities at Pathways, click here

 

Finding Hope and Home: Mark’s Story

As a foster child, Mark lived in four different homes from the ages of 6-18.

 

As an adult, he faced a number of obstacles – including his health – that left him in unstable living conditions and eventually homeless.

 

Despite these circumstances, Mark’s spirit always guided him toward learning new skills and seeking ways to better his life.

 

For Mark, one way he’s taken control of his life was by applying to become a resident at
Pathlight HOME’s Maxwell Terrace apartments.

 

It was the first time in a long time that he had found stability and hope.

 

“When I first discovered Pathlight, all I had were my clothes,” says Mark. “Now I have a roof over my head. Without them, I would still be living on the street.”

 

As a resident of Maxwell Terrace, Mark is also part of the Restore program, which provides Mark with access to case management services, mental health counseling, a food pantry and more. With the support of his case manager, Mark has an advocate who helps guide him through the complex process of accessing disability benefits, while also helping him get connected with transportation so he can go grocery shopping.

At Maxwell Terrace, Mark has also found community. You can often find him participating in
group activities or lending a helping hand to his neighbors. Each week, Mark also volunteers his time with a local nonprofit to help people get transported to church.

 

“Living here, I’ve learned more, built relationships and get to enjoy the peace and quiet,” adds Mark. “The services here are so helpful, and I especially look forward to cooking classes.”

 

Pathlight HOME believes in providing individuals with a stable home as the foundation for their journey to rebuilding their lives.

 

Once residents are housed, we become a supportive partner, empowering them to make their own decisions and take ownership of their unique journeys. Learn more about our impact.

Clear Vision, Bright Futures

At Pathlight HOME, we believe everyone deserves a chance to build the life that affords them the opportunity to thrive in our community. For many of our clients, that starts with housing.

 

And thanks to OneSight EssilorLuxottica Foundation, the leading global vision care foundation, and its partner Transitions, our clients at our Maxwell Gardens community also had a chance to prioritize their vision care.

 

At a recent vision clinic organized by the foundation, 83 Pathlight clients received free eye exams to address unresolved vision problems.

 

One of our residents, Holly, is a hostess at a restaurant and often had to squint to see the tablet she used to seat guests. In fact, squinting became so natural to Holly that she didn’t realize it until her co-workers pointed it out. At the end of the clinic she fitted with her first pair of glasses.

 

“I knew it was going to be life changing,” shares Holly.


The clinic leveraged the OneSight EssilorLuxottica Foundation’s proven clinic model and manufacturing capabilities, enabling most participants in need of glasses to receive their newly prescribed, quality eyewear on-site.

 

At the end of the clinic, 100 percent of the clients who participated needed new glasses. And everyone who needed glasses received a pair that same day!

 

True transformation takes community partnerships, and we’re grateful to OneSight and Transitions for their commitment to providing equitable access to vision care.

Building Community Through Pathways Drop In Center

In 2021, Pathlight HOME added the Pathways Drop In Center as part of its service offerings. Pathways serves those who are unhoused and living with a mental illness by providing access to meals, showers, laundry and employment programs.

 

When someone becomes a member of Pathways Drop In Center, our team addresses their most critical and immediate needs first. But from there, we work with individuals to build up their mental, emotional and physical wellbeing. 

 

That’s where our peer support groups and social activities come into the picture. Here are three reasons why socialization is an important part of addressing mental wellbeing:

 

Strong relationships can lead to better health. Research shows that strong social connections can lead to higher self-esteem and lower rates of anxiety and depression. In addition to the relationships that are formed, participating in activities like walking or outdoor games builds healthy habits among our members. 

 

Support groups help strengthen social skills. Through our peer support groups, we’re thankful to have instructors who lead various sessions like how to grow relationships or creative coping skills for managing stress. These sessions provide an opportunity for our members to connect with others who share similar experiences and interests. And that sense of belonging can give people a sense of purpose and meaning. 

 

Group activities reduce isolation and loneliness. Social isolation and loneliness are major risk factors for mental health issues. At Pathways Drop In Center, we strive to create a safe space where people don't have to walk their journey alone. Whether those relationships are built through painting, board games or field trips, the goal is to build community so that we can help our members thrive in their lives.  

 

To learn more about our drop-in center and its services, please visit https://pathlighthome.org/pathways-drop-in/

Celebrating Culinary Graduates

Graduation season is upon us and at Pathlight HOME, every eight weeks, we get to celebrate students who complete our Culinary Training Program.

 

During the eight-week course, students receive hands-on cooking classes, learn banquet dining skills and train in the field through Sobik’s Subs, a social enterprise that supports the mission of Pathlight. Students who complete the program receive the ServSafe Allergens and SafeStaff® Food Handler certifications. They also earn the Certified Guest Service Professional (CGSP) designation as part of the American Hotel & Lodging Association’s Guest Service Gold® training.

 

Join us in celebrating the graduation of our recent students:

Machayla Beckman

Paul Evers

Rachael Campbell 

Petina Crews

Cecil Henningham

Elisha Adams

Breanna Woodman

Spring 2023 Grads

The Pathlight HOME Culinary Training Program launched in 2014. Morning and afternoon classes are offered Monday-Thursday 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. and 1:30-5 p.m. Applications are being accepted for upcoming classes.

Volunteer Spotlight: Aimie Hok

In 2021, Aimie was looking for a way to give back to her community but felt like other organizations she volunteered with in the past were big and too transactional.

“I love that Pathlight is like a family, and the leadership is always appreciative of your time,” Aimie says. “They show gratitude and take time to get to know each volunteer. You matter here.”

 

Aimie volunteers weekly at Pathlight after wrapping up her day as a dental assistant. She supports administrative tasks and helps to restock the food pantry. 

 

Even after putting in a full day at a busy dental practice, Aimie says she prioritizes serving with Pathlight because of the organization’s direct impact on the community. While growing up, Aimie’s family went through a difficult financial time, so she can relate and wants to give back. 

 

“There are other resources in the community, but there is no other organization like Pathlight,” shares Aimie. “People would have to go to multiple different places to have their needs met, whereas Pathlight is all-inclusive.” 


Aimie looks forward to continuing to support Pathlight.  

 

“It’s a basic human right to have a place to call home, something that you own and is personal for you,” Aimie adds. “We all deserve to have that.”

Volunteers like Aimie are critical to helping us fulfill our mission in serving our neighbors who were once homeless. We are so thankful for her years of compassion and service! 

 

Whether you’re an individual, school group, corporate group or otherwise, we provide a variety of volunteer opportunities. From assisting with resident social activities to serving meals or supporting our employment center and more, there’s a place for you. 


To learn more about becoming a volunteer with Pathlight HOME, visit our volunteer page.