The Families Dedicated to Pathways

Kendra Farn Finz and Alison Farn Leigh – sisters dedicated to Pathways.

By Peter Tesei

Love for a family member is the pillar on which Pathways was established 42 years ago. Today it remains at the heart of our organizations culture in service to Pathways extended family of clients.

Renee Bigler (1930-2022) and a group of compassionate families founded Pathways because of a concern about the lack of community services for adults with chronic mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depression. Having experienced mental illness in their own families, the agency’s founders were very much aware of how serious mental illness can change the course of a young person’s life, often leading to permanent disability. The group sought to prevent homelessness and repeated hospitalizations by creating housing and rehabilitation services to help the mentally ill develop skills to manage their symptoms and live independently and productively as possible.

In 1992, Renee received the Greenwich Time’s annual Louise Crisafi Community Award, which honors a volunteer in health care for outstanding service to the community. In her acceptance speech, she said “Every community should have a Pathways or something like it”, “They have schools, hospitals, fire stations – they should (also) protect the mentally ill. I believe profoundly in every man’s right to shelter so he can have some dignity. Every illness shouldn’t deprive a person of this right”. Read more…


“There is No Place like Home” at Pathways, Inc.

By Peter Tesei

In the iconic 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, the main character Dorothy Gale, played by Judy Garland repeats the refrain “there is no place like home, there is no place like home”. For 42 years, Pathways Inc. has provided a warm and nurturing home for hundreds of clients in need of supported housing. Our clients enjoy the benefit of compassionate case managers and residential counselors who provide them daily enrichment of mind, body and soul. Each of Pathways three homes and one independent living apartment complex offer our clients the comfort and stability of client centered housing and life-skills educational programs, for adults with severe and prolonged mental illness.

Upon taking the helm as Executive Director of Pathways in November of 2021, I began to assess the condition of client living spaces with an eye toward refreshing personal spaces and bringing better functionality and serenity to our client’s bedrooms and common living space. We engaged our clients into selecting serene wall colors to create a more tranquil setting. Color is a powerful communication tool and can be used to signal action, influence mood, and even influence physiological reactions. Certain colors have been associated with physiological changes, including increased blood pressure, increased metabolism, and eyestrain.

The idea that color affects us psychologically is not a new concept as it first emerged in 1810 when the German poet and scientist Johann Wolfgang von Goethe penned the Theory of Colours. Since then, color psychology has been expanded upon as researchers seek to explain the impact it has on how we think, feel, and behave. Read more…



Helping People with Serious Mental Illness live their best lives.

By Peter J. Tesei

Greenwich, Connecticut is a community with an enduring commitment to provide and care for those less fortunate. Beginning in November of 2021, I commenced serving as the Executive Director at Pathways, Inc. and began witnessing first hand, the compassionate work our professional staff provide through our client centered housing and life-skills educational programs, for adults with severe and prolonged mental illness.

The demand for our programs and services is greater than ever. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, in 2020 there were an estimated 14.2 million adults aged 18 or older in the United States with Serious Mental Illness (SMI). This number represented 5.6% of all U.S. adults. Young adults aged 18-25 years had the highest prevalence of (SMI (9.7%) compared to adults aged 26-49 years (6.9%) and aged 50 and older (3.4%).

Pathways operates four residential programs with two requiring 24/7 supervision, two with case management support, and a day program. Our goal is to help our adult clients establish their individual path to independence and live their best lives. In June of 2022, Pathways welcomed Gayle Paquin, LCSW to serve as our Deputy Executive Director and Clinical Programs Manager. Gayle brings a wealth of experience to our Pathways clients having worked for the Connecticut Departments of Social Services, the Department of Children and Families as well as several notable Fairfield County based non-profit agencies. Gayle oversees our clinical team of dedicated social workers trained to help clients develop the life skills essential to independent living. Our services extend far beyond our four residences and our day program to clients living in the community through the Mental Health Waiver and the Community Support Program (CSP). Read more…


Peter Tesei takes on Pathways, a success story of support for our vulnerable population

Peter Tesei takes on Pathways…

Morning time at the Success Club where recreation and fellowship takes place, with Peter Tesei doing a meet and greet. Photo by Anne W. Semmes

By Anne W. Semmes

Since last November Peter Tesei, who served a record six-terms as First Selectman of Greenwich, has taken on the mantle of executive director of Pathways, and is thriving. “I love people,” says Tesei, “and Pathways is a people organization. Its mission is to provide housing and support services to people living with prolonged mental illness and these are people who are vulnerable and need support.”

In his early days as a bank officer with Putnam Trust and BNY/Mellon Tesei had served Pathways and been aware of the challenges it faced in establishing its first group residential home on Davis Avenue. “Pathways has a wonderful history,” he tells. “It’s been a challenge each time they’ve come forward to provide additional housing.”

Today, there are four group residences across town able to serve up to 40 individuals who suffer from schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression, ages 20’s to 70’s. And in those four group homes that have various levels of professional care and housing – Davis Avenue, 175 Milbank Avenue, 509 East Putnam, and 50 Brookside Drive – Pathway clients are demonstrating they are able to progress in their mental health. Read more..

Rob Barricelli Shares his Inspiration for Serving Pathways Clients for 28 Years



By Anne W. Semmes

Younger Rob Barricelli with his inspiration, inaugural Clinical Director for Pathways Sidney Furie. Contributed photo.

Throughout my tour of Pathways there was one name that cropped up often – Robert “Rob” Barricelli, the Senior Residential Counselor at Pathways. “He really is the historian for Pathways because he’s been with us the longest – 28 years,” told Pathways executive director Peter Tesei. “He takes the guys, anybody out walking. He takes a group out to Greenwich Point walking when he’s here on the weekends. They go to baseball games.” And likely Rob will take those keen clients to watch wrestling matches as Tesei plans to reach out to WWE for some tickets. So, no surprise on our Pathways tour when we entered its Success Club a client came up to Tesei asking, “Will Rob take us to see the wrestling?”

And each time I entered a Pathways group house there was an impressive fish tank. “Rob provides and maintains the fish tanks at three of our residences, and he’s working on another for the Success Club,” shared Tesei. Read more..



Former First Selectman Tesei Named Executive Director Of Pathways

GREENWICH, CT — Former Greenwich First Selectman Peter Tesei has been appointed as the executive director for Pathways Inc., a private, nonprofit agency in Greenwich that provides services for adults who suffer from severe and prolonged mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depression.

Tesei served a record six terms as Greenwich’s chief elected official from 2007 to 2019. Upon leaving office, he established his own consulting business and assisted individuals, businesses and nonprofits with public affairs, project management and fundraising.

“I am looking forward to working with the dedicated staff at Pathways on behalf of the wonderful clients they serve,” Tesei said in a news release. His role officially began Monday; he succeeds Laura Heckman.

“My respect and support for Pathways began when I met the founder Renee Bigler more than 20 years ago. Her passion, commitment and tireless advocacy are inspiring and I am excited to further the mission that she and the founding board members set forth 40 years ago,” Tesei added.

Tesei was chosen from a pool of more than a dozen candidates, according to Pathways. During his time in office in Greenwich, Tesei instituted process improvements, customer service training, citizen-lead committees supporting youth, diversity, special needs communities, veterans, economic development, and coastal resources.

He spearheaded the development of the nine-acre Cos Cob Park and was instrumental in the rebuilding of the Central Fire Station, Glenville Elementary School and the Performing Arts Center at Greenwich High School, Pathways said in a news release.

Prior to becoming first selectman, Tesei, a fifth-generation Greenwich native and product of the public school system in town, was the Vice President with BNY/Mellon.

Tesei served on the Greenwich Board of Estimate and Taxation for 10 years, including six as board chair He began his community service at the age of 18, as the youngest member ever elected to the Greenwich Representative Town Meeting.

Presently, he serves as the Chairman of the Board of the Greenwich Symphony Orchestra.

Over the years, Tesei has scored many accolades, including awards from:

Cos Cob Fire Police Patrol Inc., Chabad of Greenwich, Food Bank of Lower Fairfield County, United Jewish Appeal, Malcolm Pray Friend of Eagles, University of Connecticut 40 under 40 and Fairfield County Business Journal 40 under 40.

“The Board of Pathways is fortunate to have found Peter, who is an experienced and distinguished leader with a depth of knowledge of our community and its institutions as well as a passion for the mission of Pathways,” said Pathways President Tom Athan in a news release. “We are excited that Peter will be at the helm of Pathways supporting our dedicated staff in their service to our clients, using his decades of experience of listening, learning and leading.”

Learn more about Pathways, Inc.


Brotherly love: Greenwich man takes over presidency at nonprofit that helps his sibling

GREENWICH — Tom Athan worked on Wall Street for more than a decade, ran a solar energy company for 10 years and now manages a leasing company.

But Athan also has experience navigating the mental health system. His only sibling, Alex Athan, has lived with schizophrenia for more than a decade. More

Pathways puts finishing touches on new Fellowship Center in Cos Cob

GREENWICH — The old Fellowship Center for Pathways was a “dreary old building” — an aging one-story structure in Cos Cob with small rooms and little space, according to leaders of the Greenwich-based organization that supports people with serious mental illnesses.

But the organization is now preparing to move into its new building at 8 Sinawoy Road, a project with a price tag of more than $1.1 million. More

Greenwich nonprofit offers a path for those living with mental illnesses

GREENWICH — Laura Heckman vividly recalls her cousin’s first mental health crisis. They were together in her New York City apartment in October 2017 when he told her that he believed he was God.

“It’s like a wall hits you, and it’s impossible to hide,” said Heckman, the new executive director at Pathways, a Greenwich organization that provides recreational and residential services to people living with severe mental illnesses.

Like many finding out about a loved one’s diagnosis, Heckman had more questions than answers about her cousin’s bipolar disorder. But as she watched him struggle with hallucinations and delusions, Heckman realized there was no quick solution.  More

Pathways breaks ground on new Fellowship Center in Cos Cob

GREENWICH — Supporters of Pathways, a Greenwich nonprofit that supports people living with chronic mental illnesses, broke ground Tuesday morning on its new Fellowship Center in Cos Cob.

The group demolished its former building at the same site and will now begin construction of its new 2,700-square-foot building at 8 Sinawoy Road. Construction is slated to take nine months to one year. More

Pathways makes way for new facility in Cos Cob

GREENWICH — For adults with chronic mental illnesses, a one-story doctor’s office that felt like a warren of tiny rooms was not a good fit for learning guitar, doing creative writing and practicing yoga.

But since 2010, that has been the home for Pathways, which offers programs and housing for adults with severe and prolonged mental illnesses. The situation is changing this summer, however, with demolition underway of the old building, making way for a new, 2,700-square-foot space at 8 Sinawoy Road.

“That building was awful,” said Susan Sternberg, a board member for Pathways, many of whose clients suffer from schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or major depression. “The last thing you want for mentally ill people is a depressing space.”

The new building has been planned for a few years, Sternberg said. The project should take nine months to one year to be finished.

The new house will be two stories, with a “light, bright, open and uplifting” first floor and a second story going around the perimeter. The building will have a kitchen that will serve lunch.

“It will be a complete contrast,” she said. “It is going to be so amazing for the clients we serve.”

Pathways’ day program is located in Cos Cob. The nonprofit also operates four group homes throughout town, creating safe and affordable housing for those who need it.

Some clients have jobs at Whole Foods or the YMCA, but some do not, so they take part in the programs at the center from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Sternberg said.

Currently, Pathways uses an extra room at one of its group homes in town for the daytime programs. The house at 509 E. Putnam, which Pathways bought in the 1990s, has room for 16 clients, but neighbors at the time protested and the town allowed 10 people to move in, Sternberg said.

“It’s not ideal, but this way, we don’t have to pay rent,” to keep the day program going, she said….. More