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Giving Back

Dec 1, 2017

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How one Greenwich organization is helping those with severe mental illness, by offering housing, support groups and family outreach.

In 1982, a group of Greenwich, CT, families founded Pathways, Inc., because of the lack of housing and services for family members suffering from severe mental illness. “When the federal and state governments in the 1960s decided to deinstitutionalize the care of people with mental illness, there was a need to find alternative housing solutions,” says Jim Weil, president of the board. The founders of Pathways, Inc., started the non-profit organization to focus on housing and psychiatric needs, with the goal of preventing homelessness and repeated hospitalizations, while offering support to affected Greenwich families.

The Mission

“Statistics say one in four people will suffer from mental illness every year,” says Weil. “Mental illness knows no boundaries. It affects people in the same percentages from every walk of life. Providing a safe and secure environment in which people with severe mental illness are cared for is the best way to avoid the pain and suffering these individuals and their families face.” Pathways’ runs programs to rehabilitate people with mental illness who are trying to re-enter the community, including providing safe, affordable housing, a community center and a case management program to achieve greater independence.

Extensive Care

“We serve about 125 people annually,” says Florence M. Griffin, executive director. “This may not sound like a lot, but we provide 24-hour care, 365 days a year to 38 clients in our four residential homes.” Pathways serves more than 50 people daily in a day rehab facility in Cos Cob, where they serve a free lunch and provide enrichment activities. “We also have an outreach program to over 50 people who live in the Greenwich community in their own homes,” says Griffin. Social workers are assigned to each client. Says Griffin: “Our most important service to our clients is really our genuine care for them and their well-being.”

Diverse Programs

“Some of our most popular programs include creative writing, art therapy, guitar group and drama therapy,” Griffin explains. A collaboration with the YMCA gives Pathways clients free scholarships to use all of its facilities and take fitness classes throughout the year. Additionally, Pathways hosts a monthly family support group for clients’ family and friends. “These family members can be struggling with issues, from accepting their loved one’s illness, to questioning legal ways to handle that individual’s assets in the long term,” says Griffin. One man whose brother was struggling with mental illness explained that Pathways helped him find a home and feel well cared for. “The mentally ill don’t always get the right care. Pathways allows us to be brothers again,” he says. Yet another client explained that all the activities, plus the aid of the social worker has helped immensely: “I am thanking Pathways and the Fellowship Program for empowering me to develop myself into a happy, successful individual and for letting me be a great part of society in a way that always benefits me in every way possible.”

Events That Help

This year’s gala was held on September 9, 2017, on the Atlantis yacht, and launched from the Delamar Hotel. Pathways Founder, Renee Bigler, introduced this year’s honoree, Margie Warwick, thanking her for more than 33 years of service and dedication. Popular live auction items included a weekend stay for four in a coveted Signature Suite at The Ocean House in Watch Hill, RI, and a week stay for six at the luxurious Lodge at Jackson Hole, WY. The Client Needs Auction was also a success as guests made directed donations, such as pairs of sneakers ($75), summer camp at Camp Conri ($250), beds ($500), and painting bedrooms ($1,000). Parties like the annual gala and the and summer lobsterfest not only help Pathways fund its programs—they also let people who may be helped find out more information.