When Gertrude Windsor realized the need was greater than one person could address, she organized a group of people to help.
Various churches and professionals came together to start the organization, which aimed to “help those in need find their own way,” according to the PATH website.
For 27 years, the agency has provided various services to address the many needs of Smith County’s low-income residents or those who find themselves temporarily in need.
Greg Grubb, PATH’s executive director, said the organization’s mission is two-fold. First, they want to address the immediate needs people have.
But then, they want to help people take the steps they need to get out of poverty so that they won’t have to rely on PATH services all the time.
“The bulk of our people (are people) who are trying so hard and one little thing has set them back,” he said. “It doesn’t take much when you’re living on the edge. One sickness, one car repair, you know, one cut in your hours at work. Any little thing can put you to the point where you cannot make ends meet.”
PATH services address a broad spectrum of needs. Emergency services include the food pantry, prescription assistance, light bills and emergency dental work.
The organization also offers temporary rental housing at below market rates, a child mentoring program called Kid Reach and rental assistance when funding is available.
Shine Your Light campaign funds typically go toward the rental assistance program.
As many as 1,500 people a month use PATH’s emergency services program, which is the single biggest program by people served, Grubb said.
About 550 people are using the PATH community homes, the temporary rental housing.
And more than 600 people are benefiting from the nonprofit’s long-term prescription program. More than 4,000 people have used this program over the years.
Grubb said the organization still is feeling the effects of a sluggish economy. That said, the agency has kept its core services going.
“We’ve definitely had a challenging year donation wise,” he said. “But this community is so generous. We’re being blessed right now. The year-end giving is definitely coming in. We’re looking forward to next year as being a very strong year.”
Grubb said looking ahead to next year, the organization wants to continue to do its core functions well and even improve them if necessary.
“We want to stabilize all of our existing programs and then find out what’s next, what we can do to deliver better on that mission statement,” he said.