Pathway Caring for Children | Nonprofit spotlight

Pathway Caring for Children began in 1973 as a foster home network to meet the needs of neglected, abused, abandoned and troubled children. Jim Bridges had a dream in the late 1960s to provide a nurturing and learning home environment for children who needed help.

Pathway Caring for Children began in 1973 as a foster home network to meet the needs of neglected, abused, abandoned and troubled children. Jim Bridges had a dream in the late 1960s to provide a nurturing and learning home environment for children who needed help. Together with his wife, Velma, he fulfilled his dream with Pathway, an agency that continues to provide a stable environment for children as well as adults.

The private, nonprofit social service agency has since grown to become the community’s standard-bearer for treatment and support of at-risk children, teens and families. Pathway provides mental health, adoption and foster care services to children who have been abused, neglected and abandoned. The majority of cases come from Northeast Ohio through the Department of Jobs and Family Services. The children have been removed from their home for many reasons.

Pathway also helps adoptive families by offering support and therapy groups, including for situations in which children have been adopted but are unable to live in their adoptive home. In those cases, Pathway provides a parallel parent to care for the child while the family and child try to reconcile.

“We served more than 300 children last year, and had 11 children find ‘forever families,’ ” said Eric Belden, executive director, noting that the agency provides group and individual counseling for children and families.

“We are also very proud to be one of the first organizations in Stark County to provide an integrated approach to mental health and drug and alcohol,” Belden said. “We have teamed up with Quest Recovery and Prevention Services to develop the first-ever program dedicated to helping children and their families deal with issues as a team.”

None of this would be possible without the late Bridges, Pathway’s founder, and the agency’s staff, volunteers, board members and foster parents, Belden said.

“It is because of Jim’s vision and dedication that Pathway has grown into such a respected organization throughout Northeast Ohio,” he said. “I’m honored to be a part of that tradition and I’m humbled to lead such a great staff that is dedicated to our mission of helping children every day.”

PATHWAY CARING FOR CHILDREN

WHO: Pathway Caring for Children

WHAT: An organization whose mission is to empower children and families to realize their potential and achieve the possibilities of their lives through innovative mental health, foster care and adoption services. Pathway’s biggest need is loving foster families to step up and be willing to provide a safe and loving home for children.

BOARD MEMBERS: Ryan Walls, Matt Gregory, Gerhard Schmidt, Patricia Wackerly, Joanna Belden, Michael Bogdan, Kimberly Bricker, Angelina Colbert, Sue Grabowski, Kari Groh, Andy Moock, Renee Powell, Patrick Renner, Mary Beth Reynolds, Michelle Schuld, Paul Siegfried, Brenda Stevens, Bob Swisher, Luke Vincer, Chris White, Derrick Wyman.

PROCEEDS: All proceeds go toward programming, which includes providing a safe home, counseling, independent living skills and therapeutic summer camps for children.

DONATIONS: Can be made to Pathway Caring for Children, 6370 Wise Ave. NW, North Canton OH 44720. For more information, call 330-493-0083 or visit www.pathwaycfc.org.