While most people in town know about the Fifth Street Shelter, a place that over the years has served many homeless in our community and those passing through, some homeless people do not fit into the requirements required of residents of the shelter.
The PATH House is a program of Fifth Street Ministries with which you may not be familiar. It serves these people many would overlook.
Some have mental health needs, such as anxiety that would not allow them to live in a closed environment with so many other people. Some have pets the shelter cannot accommodate. Some have criminal records that restrict them from shelter life. Still others have ongoing drug and alcohol addictions that don’t allow them to be shelter residents.
Elliotte Blackwell is a Peer Support Specialist who splits his time between the PATH House and the Veteran's House. He has been homeless in the past, and has a heart for the needs of those he serves. He began as a volunteer in April of 2020, right after COVID hit. About three months later, when funding was received, he was hired as a part-time employee and later his role in the two houses as able to expand to full-time.
People don’t live at the PATH House but it is available to them as a refuge during the day. The facility is orderly and clean and functional. Blackwell said a homeless woman cleans it, as her way of giving back to the community. She does a meticulous job.
The house stocks some of the things given to Fifth Street Ministries that are needed by these people. Toiletries, blankets, and clothing are there for those who need them. Many live in tents provided by the PATH House, and sleep on cots, also provided.
There are snacks and cereal available and a full kitchen people can use to make a meal if they want to cook for themselves. Staff can also bring meals over from the shelter, which is located just a street away.
Blackwell says on occasion someone may come in and say “I want to make a pot of soup for everyone.” Contrary to what people often think, Blackwell says, homeless people do like to give back and that spirit is encouraged.
Blackwell and others who work at the PATH House are knowledgable about resources available in the community and as they get to know the people they serve, they try to get them attached to local resources that help. Do they need mental health or chemical dependency resources? They can direct thenm to where they are available. Do they need a job? They have info on local places who may hire them, and also will help them fill out online applications to other jobs. Do they need the services of a social worker to help them see a doctor or get medication? That’s also available.
Fifth Street also employs an outreach worker that works for the PATH House. This person goes out to these tent cities, and other places the homeless live or hang out, and tries to connect them to services available to them, the first being the PATH House. They may pick them up, drive them to the house, and return them after they get a shower or a meal or just escape the elements to watch TV for a while.
When asked what his “wish list” would be for new items for the house, Blackwell thought for a while and said, “Well, we could really use a new microwave.” He also said at this time of the year they are looking for items such as hoodies, undershirts, plain t-shirts, socks, and sweatpants. Larger sized items are often the most needed. Most of the homeless they serve are men, but they like unisex items that can also be used for women.
If you would like to donate some of these items to the PATH House, drop them off at the Fifth Street Shelter (1421 Fifth Street in Statesville), open for donations from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day. You also can order from Amazon and ship directly to Fifth Street. If you specifically want items to go to the PATH House, just tell them at drop-off or mark the items as such. If you’d like to make a cash donation to PATH House or Fifth Street Ministries, you can find information on how to do that here.