By CASSIE GALLI
The Path Project partners with Graystone Church to help kids in at-risk communities find the right path for their lives.The Path Project is a nonprofit organization that exists in mobile home communities which are home to majority first and second Latino immigrants.
Founded in 2009 by Jim and Melinda Hollandsworth, the Path Project has since grown from Georgia to Tennessee as an independent charitable organization. Georgia currently has four working communities: Gwinnett Estates in Loganville, Georgia, Valley Brook in Stone Mountain, Georgia, Riverside Estates in Covington, Georgia, and Bay Creek also in Loganville, Georgia. The Tennessee community is located at Franklin Estates in Franklin, Tennessee.
One-hundred and seventy-five students, ranging from kindergarten through fifth grades, regularly attend after school programs in the Path Project communities. Forty middle and high school students choose to attend an after school club rather than hang out in the streets. Twenty 4-year-olds attend a Path Project pre-school class and will know basic English when starting school.
At its most basic level, the Path Project offers kids the possibility of a better path by promoting spiritual development — recognizing God’s plan and Biblical application, academic development—basic skills and homework help, and social development — life skills and goal setting.“From volunteering forward, I knew I wanted to stay involved,” Gwinnett Estates Community Director Sheri Sharer said. “My background is education, so helping children reach their success rate is really important to me as well as a need to serve.”
According to Sharer, the Path Project’s goal is to become extremely academic while implementing spiritual and social aspects as well. Another main goal for the Gwinnett Estates Path Project is more space so that they can offer reading groups four days a week instead of two days.
“We just partnered with Gwinnett County Library. They came out to read to the kids last week and we have plans for them to come back again soon to bring technology to our preschool and mommy and me class,” Sharer said. “Also, May 1, 2015, is our annual Gala which will allow us to raise money to continue our programs.”
The mommy and me program exists to encourage pregnant women and mothers of children not yet in school to bring their children and see a first-hand model of how to read to their children and the importance of language development so that children are ready for school.
“You can see daily differences, and for some of our kids, our hugs and encouraging words are the only ones they get,” Sharer said. “It’s really valuable to know that you can come to work or volunteer position and be yourself and have that be enough.”
“My goal is to hopefully help them with their homework, but really it’s to show them that there is a consistent adult who is going to be there with them helping them for the length of the program,” volunteer Lisa Sampson said.
The Path Project is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit community organization that exists to help kids in at-risk communities find the right path for their lives — spiritually, academically and socially.
For more information on the Path Project, visit http://www.Path-Project.org.