When people think about our program participants, there can be a tendency to put a lot of things on them that they should be doing. It's what we do with people who have had a rough go. We make assumptions about their stories, abilities, and hopes. Sometimes these assumptions can be spot on, but more than likely, they're off – and a little too much about ourselves. Pathways participants have had a lot of things put on them by a lot of well-meaning people, but we make a point to help our program participants reclaim their lives: not the lives others want them to live or the lives they think others want them to live. We help them to discover what they want their lives to look like based on their goals, hopes, and dreams.
We strive to help participants live in the community and to be valued for their uniqueness and abilities, just like everyone else. Our staff aims to walk alongside participants, wherever they are on the path of life, and to support them in the places they want support. Ultimately, we want to empower participants to make their own decisions. Our hope at Pathways is to provide all manner of opportunities for participants to reclaim their lives on their own terms.
We practice community inclusion and help participants reclaim their lives in every aspect of our programming by living the following values:
Our program participants are strong. They have lived full lives, had many experiences, thrived in the face of past trauma, and deserve our respect.
We are intentional in the way we engage with participants. Staff attitudes matter, and we want to support folks in their choices. We're here to help them to do the things they want to do.
If we're going to support and encourage program participants in their choices, we need to have a solid foundation to build from. Talking about where they have been, what their lives are like today, and what they hope their lives will be like in the future happens through genuine conversations and connection – enveloped in healthy dialogue and reasonable boundaries.
We are intentional about helping people. We do that through kindness and respect while advocating in the community for our folks to live their lives just like everybody else.
On average, those with mental health disorders have 50% fewer close relationships than the general public; of those relationships, half are with paid staff. To help participants grow their networks and foster new relationships, Pathways hosts regular Community Events around the city. These events are directed by participants' interests and range from fitness classes and museum visits to movies and WWE Live. The number of Community Events hosted by Pathways doubled from 2016 to 2018, and the number of participants attending these events has grown from 50 to 100 attendees each month.
We believe that anyone can work if they are given the right support. In today's job market, with many more qualified candidates than jobs available, it is more important than ever to level the playing field for people who are under-resourced and have been out of the workforce for long periods.
The Philadelphia Furniture Bank (PFB) provides part-time jobs as part of our Transitional Employment Program. These jobs include furniture repair apprentices, warehouse workers, personal shoppers, clerical assistance, delivery support, and van drivers. The job training benefits of the program result in high retention rates, a transition to competitive employment, and improved overall quality of life satisfaction for participants.