by Julie Palmer, PATH Enrichment Center
Although this past year brought incredible transition and uncertainty, God remained faithful through it all. When COVID-19 affected our community, we had to regroup and figure out how we would continue to support those we serve at our PATH Enrichment Center. We immediately began providing meals, groceries and supplies two days a week for the women and youth we serve. Our ability to deliver these essentials allowed us to keep contact with women and youth. We saw so much need during this crisis that we began a YouTube page to offer expressive art, music therapy, fitness, and group support from our staff. Our team called our clients three days a week and maintained individual support over the phone and virtually.
Sadly, we watched women and youth re-engage with perpetrators, relapse into addictions, and decline in mental health. Several of those we served said we were the only provider to maintain contact and reach out to them during COVID. They were desperate for human interaction. Some were alone and not able to be with anyone for months.
Through this time, we were able to maintain a weekly virtual meeting with our staff and volunteers to pray, read Scripture, and keep up to date on our ministry. We had staff and volunteers receive healing prayers, worship together, stay connected, and grow together through this uncertain time. Staff and volunteers voiced that PATH discipled them during the shelter in place, and encouraged them to keep their eyes on Jesus and serve Him.
God is so much bigger than our circumstances that even during the shelter in place, we had an amazing donor purchase a building for the use of our Enrichment Center. God then orchestrated the opportunity for a team from Eight Days of Hope to help transform and renovate our space. We officially moved into our new location at 999 Delaware Avenue in Buffalo the last week of July 2020!
We started our Enrichment Center five years ago in a 500 square foot room in a church on the Eastside of Buffalo and now we have an almost 6,000 square foot building for our full use! God knew that we would need more space to spread out our services and adjust to the current guidelines. We are able to expand our services which include expressive art, music therapy, fitness classes, support groups, spiritual care, individual support, case management, meals, clothing needs, youth program, child program, adult services, human trafficking prevention, trainings, and outreach.
Now more than ever, people need to hear about the love of Jesus and are desperate for something to hold on to in these uncertain times. We as a church community have the opportunity to partner and reach the most afflicted, vulnerable, and hurting in WNY.
Here is some of our client feedback during the past few months of how God was at work:
A youth called in crisis and expressed suicidal ideation. She requested prayer, and upon further safety planning, coping skills review, and highlighting strengths, she said, “I really appreciate you guys for always being there for me and for understanding me! I feel so much better and don’t have any suicidal thoughts at all!”
“Thank all of you so much for everything you’ve done for me and my family. All of you always check on me, bring me what I need, and take care of me – I have never been truly loved like this before, all thanks to God.”
“PATH is my family! They are showing me the heart, sacrifice, and love that Jesus Christ has shown to us! They know not just what I want, but what I need. They give me encouragement and hope. PATH is so special to me as they really care about me and my family!
PATH seeks to end human exploitation through education, prevention and restoration while demonstrating the love of Jesus. Our PATH Enrichment Center provides support services for women, men, and youth who are high risk or affected by human trafficking addressing the whole person physically, emotionally, and spiritually.