Lighthouse PATH celebrates 25 years of helping families

- Lighthouse of Oakland County's PATH program is celebrating 25 years of providing housing and support to families in need. PATH has helped more than 2,000 mothers and their children. It's the only long-term program of its kind in southeast Michigan.

"It was there when I didn't have family. When I didn't have friends. That's what PATH was; support."

Jenifer Hughes is proof that sometimes you just need help getting back on the right "path."

She's working now and happy, but just a few years ago, that wasn't the case. She had left an emotionally abusive relationship. Then she lost her job.

She and her kids went to a shelter but they were told they could only stay for a few days. She didn't know what to do. Then someone told her about PATH.

"It was a blessing. It was just what I needed, what I prayed for every day ," she says.

Lighthouse PATH is a long-term, transitional housing program for homeless mothers and their children. PATH provides the tools for women to get back on their feet. And it all starts with a place to stay.

Families get set up in an apartment with donated furniture, bedding -- even food and clothing.

"The first thing we want our families to do is to become stabilized. Before you can grow into your own self-sufficiency, you need to know you have a place to stay, for you and your children," says Wilma Abney, Chief Programs Officer with Lighthouse of Oakland County.

But that's just part of the program.

PATH also offers training to help women get back on track. They learn about things like finance, budgeting, even parenting skills. If they need help getting their GED or applying for jobs, they get help with that, too. Desiree McCullough is an example of that.

"I appreciate it very much and I benefit from it a lot, me and my son. It's changed my life because it's helped me gain my self-sufficiency back," she says.

Desiree is working at a new job now, and so is Jenifer Hughes. She got a college degree in business administration and has worked her way up to food and beverage supervisor at MGM Grand.

She says PATH has made all the difference and she's very grateful for the help.

"If you take advantage of what they offer, it can really amount to greater things," Hughes says, wiping a tear.

For more information on PATH and Lighthouse of Oakland County, visit www.lighthouseoakland.org.

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