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.

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.

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