Pathways center change shows promise

The Mountainer (2018).

When the Haywood Pathways Center first opened nearly four years ago now, the operational plan expanded on the temporary homeless shelter that had operated in the county during the winter months only.

That model included offering a warm place to spend the night, with transportation the next morning to community sites where breakfast was served.

While Pathways offered a hot breakfast and packed lunch early on, with a dinner prepared and served by community volunteers, those staying there were still expected to spend their days in the community attending counseling sessions, volunteering or looking for work.

As the center has evolved into more of a place where lives are turned around as opposed to an emergency shelter, it makes sense that there is at least an option for some of the residents to receive onsite services.

This month, that was made possible thanks to an opioid grant that is providing four additional peer support counselors for the Pathways center. 

Two of the counselors will work directly with inmates before their release so they will have a jumpstart on the process that occurs for those who opt to spend their first post-release months at Pathways.

All those staying at the privately funded, nonprofit facility are expected to remain sober and drug-free, plus be working toward a plan of sustainability, whether that includes breaking addiction patterns, learning new skills to create a better life or working to save up funds for an apartment of their own. 

The additional counselors have made it possible to employ a person during the day to work with clients, meaning the rule that the campus is closed to all during the day can be reversed.

While the center is very nice, it is hard to imagine opening the shelter campus during the days will cause residents to become less productive so they can hang out in the dining area all day (the dorm areas will continue to be off-limits to residents during the day.)

The worthy goal of helping individuals get their lives straightened is exactly the type of program that can make a difference in our community. 

This is not only for the individual and family members directly touched by the situations leading to homelessness but for the community that will be enhanced by fewer people needing help and more people helping out.

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