2015 was an exciting year of advocacy for Pathway Homes and it culminated in a visit from Senator Creigh Deeds and members of the Mental Health Services in the 21st Century Subcommittee. The visit was a direct result of in-person testimonial provided to the Subcommittee last summer by Vice Chair of the Pathways Board of Directors, Reverend Jennifer McKenzie.
On Tuesday November 12, 2015, members of the Subcommittee, chaired by Senator Creigh Deeds, visited Pathway Homes to learn about the agency’s Permanent Supportive Housing service delivery design. Senators Deeds and Emmett Hanger, Delegates Vivian Watts and Scott Garrett, as well as a host of legislative aides from other delegates and senators, attended the hour-long meeting, which was covered by NBC News Channel 4 reporter Julie Carey. Also in attendance were Pathway Homes Board members, Daniel Gray and Sue Zywokarte, President & CEO, Dr. Sylisa Lambert-Woodard, Chief Operating Officer, Dr. Eleanor Vincent, and Virginia Association of Community-Based Providers Executive Director, Michael Carlin.
Dr. Lambert-Woodard described the non-time-limited design of the Pathways housing model and the flexibility of supports that keep individuals in that housing, “We provide the therapy, the counseling, the mental health services, and the mental health skills building services that make it possible for many of these individuals to stay healthy and stable in their homes in communities of their choice.” Ms. Zywokarte, whose story about her journey of recovery was the highlight of the meeting, described how Pathways housing and supports helped her evolve from major depression and repeated hospitalizations to a Bachelor’s degree and current graduate studies at George Mason University. Senator Deeds and the rest of the attendees listened intently as she described the ups and downs of recovery and the joy of giving back by serving on the Pathways Board of Directors and telling her story. The questions that followed reflected the impact of her story on everyone present and an understanding of the positive impacts Pathways’ housing and services has on the lives of the individuals served.
Deeds and the delegation also toured Fairfax County's new Community Services Board facility -- often a starting point for many with mental health challenges. Staffers wore buttons reading "Diversion First," signifying a new effort to divert some offenders with mental illnesses away from jail and into treatment. The Subcommittee’s visit and Ms. Zywokarte’s story were featured on that night's NBC4 newscast, as part of their Changing Minds feature, and can be seen here.
Huge thanks to Sue Zywokarte and our Board members on the Advocacy Committee, Jennifer McKenzie and Angie Lathrop, for their untiring advocacy efforts in the local community and state-wide. We also want to welcome new board member Jennifer McGarey to the Advocacy Committee.