Honoring the Women Who Serve

It’s International Women’s Week, and we are celebrating by highlighting the hard-working, dedicated and caring women of Pathlight HOME. They help us serve those experiencing homelessness by providing affordable housing and economic opportunities. We spoke to a few of the devoted women of Pathlight HOME about what motivates them to serve their community and how they found their way to Pathlight.

“Serving the community means a lot to me because I am able to witness lives changed for the better and I can lend a hand in whatever way I can.”

Sheila Beaty, Employment Counselor

In 2018, Sheila retired from a 43-year-long career at the Department of Health and Human Services. A few years later, she became inspired by our mission and joined Pathlight HOME. Sheila has a heart to serve and genuinely enjoys helping those seeking assistance to improve their lives. She works in our Employment Center and Culinary Program to help students develop their employability skills to assist in their job search. Sheila enjoys witnessing the growth of Pathlight HOME’s Culinary Program participants, saying, “Some students start the program with no confidence, afraid and no plans for the future. When they graduate, some are surprised they are able to pass the test.”


Fun fact: I love almost all types of music and I love to dance and sing

“It’s a privilege to be part of a team of compassionate and skilled professionals who head home at the end of the day with a sense of pride about our efforts, knowing that we made a difference – one person at a time.”

Audrey Sandford, Programs Manager

Audrey’s journey with Pathlight HOME began in 2002, as a case manager for the Homes for New Beginnings program. Over the past two decades, she developed and worked in other case management programs at Pathlight HOME. As a registered nurse, Audrey has applied her bedside nursing and case management skills to serving newly-housed individuals with mental and physical disabilities. Serving the community and respecting people whether underserved or homeless is a part of who she is. For Audrey, it is a privilege to be a part of Pathlight HOME’s team of compassionate and skilled professionals. She takes pride in Pathlight’s efforts of serving the community.


Fun fact: I teach the Hebrew language to people of all ages.

“One day at a time, we are collectively putting in the work to make changes that better our community.”

Natalia Lescano, Volunteer & In-Kind Coordinator

Serving the community means the world to Natalia. She is our Volunteer & In-Kind Coordinator. Nat coordinates the volunteers that support Pathlight HOME and oversees our in-kind donation process. She joined us in October 2022 after graduating from UCF with a bachelor's in nonprofit management, later developing her skills in nonprofit operations and event support. Making a positive change in the lives of Pathlight HOME's residents, clients and members motivates Nat as a nonprofit leader. When asked what it means to serve the community, she says “One day at a time, we are collectively putting in the work to make changes that better our community.”


Fun fact: I'm a big foodie, I love hunting down hidden gems in our city.

“Supporting people who are looking to better their lives through community service helps to grow an even stronger community.”

Diana Gonzalez, Assistant Property Manager

Community and volunteer work is a big part of Diana’s life. For her, serving the community means “helping people who have not been as blessed as you.” Diana believes giving support and a smile goes a long way when people have lost hope. She joined Pathlight in 2018 after being referred to an administrative assistant position in Maxwell Garden. Before accepting the job, she actually worked as a security officer at Maxwell Garden with a different company. Diana has since been promoted to a leasing consultant in 2020 and is now an assistant property manager. She says that supporting people who are looking to better their lives through community service helps to grow an even stronger community.


Fun fact: I love to spend my time with family and friends and most importantly my daughter. It's become so much fun being the sidekick in all her adventures.

“During my time of need, all that I needed was someone to help me along the way. I strive to be that to my clients.”

Tatiana Cherry, Assistant Lead Case Manager

Even before joining Pathlight HOME, Tatiana has always been passionate about helping those experiencing homelessness. Tatiana's own experience of overcoming homelessness encouraged her to seek out opportunities to help others in a similar position. Previously working as a receptionist, housing specialist and housing case manager at a low-barrier residential shelter, Tatiana says she realized her “true purpose is helping others.” As a case manager at Pathlight HOME, she continues her goal of being there for her community. Assisting someone to overcome barriers motivates Tatiana to never give up as a nonprofit leader. Her experience working with case workers who were kind, thoughtful and understanding inspires her to provide the same grace to her clients at Pathlight HOME.


Fun Fact: I enjoy spending time with my 3 children and sisters. 

Pathlight HOME Names Babette Allen Chief Executive Officer

We are proud to announce that Babette Allen has been named the new chief executive officer (CEO) of Pathlight HOME. Babette has served as president since 2020, and has been with the organization for more than 16 years. Helaine Blum, our co-founder, and who has spent more than 30 years serving the homeless in our community, will serve as president emeritus. 

“Babette’s passion and extensive experience serving the unhoused in our community makes her the perfect leader for Pathlight HOME,” said Larri Thatcher, board chair of Pathlight HOME. “With thousands of individuals experiencing homelessness in our community, the importance of our work is even greater and Babette will help guide Pathlight into the future.”


Since joining Pathlight in 2007, Babette has helped spearhead a number of service expansions, including the opening of an employment resource center and the acquisition of Pathways Drop-In Center, a respite center that primarily focuses on the underserved who have a mental illness. 


“I’m thankful to our board for trusting me to carry out the legacy of what Reverend Fred Maxwell and Helaine Blum created more than 30 years ago to address this need in our community,” said Allen. “We’ve long recognized that housing is only the first step to addressing homelessness, and in the coming months, I’m excited to share what we have on the horizon to better serve our clients and our community.”

Pathlight HOME is Central Florida's first and largest provider of the housing first model. Each year, the organization houses more than 600 men and women, while also connecting its clients to career training opportunities, a food pantry and various community resources. To learn more about how you can support Pathlight HOME, visit https://pathlighthome.org.

A New Beginning

After a stroke left Scott unable to keep his job, he was suddenly faced with years of homelessness – living on and off the streets and unable to find stable housing. 


When he could find the money, he would rent a room at an area motel. But most days, he found himself at a bus station, a train station or the pavement. 


However, in late 2022, Scott’s journey to permanent housing began when he reached out to Orange County Government for help. Within days, the County connected Scott to one of our case managers who quickly worked alongside Scott to find a solution to his situation. 

Thanks to the support of the County and the Homeless Service Network, Scott is now a resident at Maxwell Garden Apartments, and part of our Home for New Beginnings (HNB) program, which provides a permanent supportive home to adults who have a disability. As part of the program, rent for residents does not exceed more than 30 percent of their income. 


“The team at Pathlight HOME are so dedicated to their clients,” shares Scott. “If you’re willing to put in the work, they are with you along the way.”

Scott's journey serves as a heartwarming reminder that, with the right support and determination, anyone can overcome the challenges they face and find a new beginning.


Learn more about how you can help others take the first step toward a safe, dignified home.

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!”