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.



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!

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.”

An Awesome Experience

Strains of Pomp and Circumstance filled the Pathlight Kitchen Banquet Room as the smiling graduates received their certificates and chef’s coats. The celebration marked completion of the re-started, post-pandemic Culinary Training Program (complete with masks) as well as the inaugural partnering of the cooking program with the Pathlight Home Employment Center. How ideal to be able to also assist culinary students with job and life skills needed to succeed in the workplace!

 

Derrick was beside himself with excitement. “I feel great, wonderful…I achieved my goal of learning more about the kitchen…how to present myself…to hold a knife,” the new graduate said. “I learned to make a stock…prepare and sauté, filet and cook fish…we made Asian food.”

 

Just two short months ago, we shared a story about Derrick’s positive attitude, progress in our housing programs and dream of owning a soul food truck. When we suggested he apply for the culinary program, he immediately jumped on the opportunity through his Case Manager Gail Smith and started class as the story ran. Little could he imagine how much he would get out of the experience!

 

“I networked. I met a good instructor, Chef Esteban, and Fernando…and a former classmate,” Derrick explained. “Chef taught me a lot…he’d show you [how to do something] and if you needed help, he’d help you. I wanted to brush up on my culinary skills and learned safe and healthy food preparation.”

 

Derrick is just as thrilled about his “Power Talks” with Employment Manager Fernando Beaubrun, every morning before cooking class. They focused on the business and strategic parts of planning for a food truck, the fear of change, whom to trust, how to approach people, and similar subjects. “We watched videos with tricks of the trade, how to start your own business, and to concentrate on one item when you start your food truck.”

 

“I’ve got to learn the business part,” says Derrick as he contemplates a culinary opportunity through the Employment Center. “I can work in their kitchen two or three days a week as a learning experience, while investigating the business part of the food truck.” That makes perfect sense to us!

 

As he eats the delicious graduation dessert that he helped prepare, Derrick sums up his last eight weeks, the people he met and the help he got in one word. “AWESOME!”

Volunteer Appreciation Week: Remembering Brian S.

National Volunteer Appreciation Week, April 18-24, is a time to recognize amazing achievements through giving back. It is also a time for Pathlight HOME to celebrate the volunteers who have constantly supported the community.  

 

This year Pathlight HOME would like to recognize volunteer Brian Sas a leader with high spirits on a mission to help. He recently passed awayand we will always be grateful for his kindness and dedicated work.  

 

As a resident throughout his life, Brian was incredibly involved in building strong ties between the Salvation Army and the people of Maxwell Terrace. He enlisted the Salvation Army’s help tprovide food, clothing, volunteers, and Bibles. “I’ll see you Saturday” was Brian’s famous phrase as he walked through the halls of Pathlight HOME’s Maxwell Terrace Apartments. 

 

Brian’s ministry days started in 2008, with a goal to meet human needs without discriminationSaturdays were always the day to lift up the community and show them that people care. 

 

His hard work didn’t stop there. In 2011, The Salvation Army dedicated a bus with supplies and volunteers to his Saturday morning ministry at Maxwell Terrace, adding visits to Pathlight HOME’s Maxwell Garden Apartments and a nearby trailer park. 

 

That indispensable resource continues todayand we would like to thank The Salvation Army for assisting on average 130 very appreciative people each week by continuing to serve meals every Saturday. Brian’s giving spirit and compassionate love for our residents live on through the Salvation Army's ongoing gift 

 

Brian’s passionate commitment to building a sense of community and helping his neighbors inspire us every day, reminding us of the many ways that each of us can change the lives of homeless and low-income individuals. Pathlight HOME and The Salvation Army will always remember Brian’s goodwill, love, humor, and the hearts he has touched 

The Women Behind Pathlight HOME

Belinda Newkirk

Belinda Newkirk, the Employment Counselor in our Employment Center, is new to Pathlight HOME - but not really! In fact, Belinda feels she’s “come back home” to the people, community, passion, and job she loves. That’s because she was Manager of the former Goodwill Job Connection Center, which closed in March 2020. Belinda began working in an Administrative role at Goodwill in 1993. Rising through the ranks, she became Manager when the Job Connection Center opened on W. Colonial Drive and a wonderful partner for Pathlight HOME. “As I continued to work at Goodwill, I found it [employment counseling] was my calling,” she says. “And when an opportunity arose to assist in my community, I jumped on it.” She prayed for an Employment Center opening, “God provided it,” and both Belinda and Pathlight HOME benefitted!

Barbara Jones

Barbara Jones is Manager of our Sobik’s Subs Café, a social enterprise located at Maxwell Garden. Fresh off of her formal culinary training, with a love of cooking since childhood, Barbara came to us in 2015. Her culinary talents may be why she originally came onboard, yet Barbara believes, “The Lord put me here to do his job. He’s assigning to my hands to help people of all types.” She’s a cheerleader for their successes and loves when residents stop by to share a life happening. It’s a pretty usual sight to see Barbara preparing a sub with a listening ear to the customer’s success or dilemma at the same time. Barbara says “everybody likes to eat,” so conversation and food are a natural pairing. “I have a reason to be here,” she says. “Until HE tells me it’s time to go, I’ll be here!”

Barbara Jones
Georgina Medina

Georgina Medina

Georgina Medina is our Corporate Office Executive Assistant. She is proud that her accounting and bookkeeping role helps Pathlight HOME help others each day. With her professional mission of growing in finance and accounting, her personal “God-given calling” of helping others, and our organization’s mission to change lives, she believes this is right where she belongs. “It’s a beautiful mission,” she says. “It’s great that I came into my field from another country,” says Georgina. “And I know what it feels like to have no place to stay. That’s why I love to see [residents] be restored and renewed.” Georgina strives to do the best she can in her department and has been doing so for five years. “We share the same heart. That’s why I stay.”

Gail Smith

Gail Smith, Case Manager for our Homes for New Beginnings Program (HNB), is in her ninth year with us. Gail’s ability to listen, build trust, and encourage HNB residents to “find themselves first” has helped them reclaim life skills, family relationships, work abilities, and more that went by the wayside during their journey into homelessness. Inspiring her clients to find a career or purpose that fulfills them really makes Gail tick. When she sees people achieve their goals, she feels a sense of accomplishment right along with them! “This doesn’t feel like work. It’s natural and exciting for me,” she says. “When you love what you do, it’s easier to push and encourage yourself to do more and achieve your vision. It’s about making a difference in people’s lives…including my own.”

Gail Smith
Eclair De Oliveira

Éclair DeOlivera

Éclair DeOlivera is our Administrative Assistant at Maxwell Terrace & Maxwell Garden. Humble and hardworking, Éclair has been with Pathlight HOME for 13 years. Hers is usually the first face present and future residents see when they come into our offices. Éclair knows that when people need housing, “They come in stressed. They’re scared and don’t know where to go. I feel compassion and want to help.” Explaining the application, answering queries, and providing referrals when needed are essentials to her. “I want to help any way I can for them to get the housing they need,” she says. “I just love my job,” she explains. “I feel like I’m doing something useful. My job has a purpose. I am helping someone else in the process. I don’t have the need to do anything else!”

Celebrating Pathlight HOME’s 29th Anniversary

Still Dreaming (Virtual Event)

April 1st 2021 12-1pm

The late Reverend Fred Maxwell, Co-Founder of Pathlight HOME, always intended for Pathlight HOME to continuously grow. With every homeless housed, he sought to house more. In his words, he was "still dreaming" of ways to continue to make a difference and change lives. 

Today, Pathlight HOME dreams of expanding housing services to Orlando's homeless families. To learn more register for Still Dreaming. 

$29 for 29 Years!

To help us celebrate our upcoming anniversary, we're asking for donations of $29. All funds raised will be used in support of future housing for homeless families. This includes permit costs, furnishings and more.

Pathlight HOME Timeline 1991 - Present