Corks for A Cause: Pathways for Change

Staff Writer
The Destin Log
Pathways for Change is changing lives, reducing crime, and building futures.

Editor’s Note: Each month the Destin Log will share a story from one of the charity partners benefiting from the support of Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation.

“Take a man off the street who has been raised in a home where more than likely there was addiction, poverty, low levels of education, and they have been left to pretty much raise themselves…” – Pathways For Change Chief Executive Officer, Connie Bookman

The Department of Justice estimates that nearly 65 percent of inmates are substance abusers. More than 650,000 ex-offenders are released from prison every year. Approximately two-thirds will likely be rearrested within 3 years of being released.

Many ex-offenders turn to their old ways, some turn back to using or selling drugs, as they make 40 percent less than they did prior to incarceration and struggle to make ends meet. More than 8.3 million children in the United States live with an addict.

Pathways for Change offers a light at the end of the tunnel, an alternate path, a transition program. Pathways for Change is changing lives, reducing crime, and building futures. Located in one of the most impoverished parts of Pensacola, the Family Center is walking distance for many in the community and serves a variety of people.

Pathways for Change has been a Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation partner since 2006. Through this partnership, PFC has earned donations equally more than $866,621. With funding allowing six men per year to attend the Men’s Residential Treatment Program, the likelihood of these men returning to a life of addiction and crime is cut in half. The Family Center assists families in poverty and helps them break the cycle of a destructive lifestyle. Currently serving 150 children per year, this program will soon include babies that have been traumatized and taken from their parents due to domestic violence and/or substance abuse.

“The motivation behind The Family Center is prevention and intervention,” says Pathways For Change Chief Executive Officer Connie Bookman. “We all need to be accepted and appreciated. Within the walls of the Family Center, it becomes a healthy family. We ask what do you need to be successful and we take all of the barriers away. We offer free child care, tuition assistance, tutors, GED programs.”

The number one reason men fail leaving prison or long term substance abuse treatment is the lack of stable housing. In 2014 The Clinton Cox Residence opened as a sober home offering a place for men to live temporarily and receive one on one counseling during transitions. The goal is that the men that leave are self-sufficient, are able to sign a lease, obtain a job and care for themselves and their families. Since the Transitions program began in 2011, PFC has helped 44 men with housing and 55 men with employment.

“Pathways for Change is doing amazing work in our community. We are lucky enough to hear the testimonies of those that graduate the Pathways For Change programs at our auction each year during our traditional Paddle Raise and each time I am amazed and incredibly proud of the transitions these men have made and the success they have had to overcome so many obstacles.” says John Russell, president of Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation.

Thanks to funding from DCWAF and others, Pathways for Change looks for what the community needs and is able to initiate the necessary programs and facilities. Since inception in 2003, PFC has expanded to include a Family Center, Men’s Residential Treatment rehabilitation, a sober living Transitions program, outpatient treatment for women, and an employment opportunity with Everything Outdoors Lawn and Maintenance. These programs offer residential substance abuse treatment, and mental health counseling, play, music and art therapies for children who have been affected by their parents’ addiction, violence, or crime history.

“In the getting ahead in a just getting by world class I found out that I still had worth. People really love and care about your well being here. It’s all about resources. When you don’t know better, you don’t do better. My future looks brighter. I can see my way. I have hope. That’s what Pathways has done for me," said Jacqueline Moss, mother of 5, grandmother 13, a Getting out of Poverty Graduate.