By Geoff Elterich, Community Education Coordinator
On Sunday, September 28th, Greater New Britain Teen Pregnancy Prevention, Inc. will be hosting its 16th Annual Pathways Walkathon.
I started working at Greater New Britain Teen Pregnancy Prevention, Inc.’s Pathways/Senderos Center (yeah, it’s a mouthful) in the summer of 2008. I had volunteered at the Center the previous summer, the same summer I started my own publishing company. Coincidentally, my friend and college roommate Nick Jakubowski, who had recently started working at Pathways, wanted to start a writing project with the kids at his job. That summer, Pathways/Senderos and TH Circle Publishing released our first book: a collection of stories, anecdotes, and poems from the Pathways high school students titled, “Silenced Teen Voices Heard.” The next year, I was working full-time at Pathways, and we published another book, “Life + Love; Sex + Struggles.” These two books were funded by grants; unfortunately, we were unable to secure more grant funding for the project, but we were able to publish one last book in 2009: “Nobody But Us.” You can purchase all three books from the Pathways website:
All proceeds from the books go to Pathways/Senderos.
Although we have been unable to publish more books since then, we do amazing things at the Center on a daily basis. Pathways/Senderos is a comprehensive teen pregnancy prevention program. Our mission is to prevent teen pregnancy, obviously, but that’s a small part of what we do. We also aim to assure high school graduation and promote adult self-sufficiency. We help kids help themselves become successful adults. I am very proud of my job. I also truly enjoy my job. I see the benefit of what we do every day, and even more awesomely, the benefit of what we do on a long-term basis. The program is long-term, so our participants are in the program from 6th grade until they graduate high school. We get to watch them grow and mature and progress over a period of 7 years (longer really, because our graduates always come back to visit). It’s an amazing feeling to be a part of something so beneficial. If there is any solution to the cycle of poverty and teen parenting, Pathways/Senderos is it.
And now is your chance to be a part of the solution. On September 28th at Walnut Hill Park in New Britain, we are holding our annual fundraising event, the Pathways Walkathon. Our students, staff, board members, volunteers, and supporters gather behind the band shell for a 2 mile walk around the loop in the park. There will be refreshments, including apples and apple cider from Rogers Orchards, as well as a raffle. Prizes range from Stop and Shop gift cards to a free rental car (of your choosing) for a weekend (of your choosing) from Hoffman Auto.
All the proceeds from this event benefit the 60 boys and girls (and their families) that we serve on a daily basis. Money is important, but what would be even greater is a mass showing of support for these young boys and girls who are trying to make something of themselves. A huge group of people at the event will let these kids know they are a part of a community that cares about them.
Many of my friends and family have already donated or attended the event in the past, and several have expressed that they will be there this year. I don’t know if they know how much it is appreciated, but I wanted to express my gratitude again. I am sincerely moved by your generosity.
Now I ask you all to consider attending this year’s Walkathon, even if you never met me or never heard of Pathways/Senderos. Registration is at 9:30am, and all we ask is a $20 donation. If you can’t make it, please consider a donation, which you can easily make on our website.
I am proud to say that the work I do is important. More than that, these kids are important to me. I took this job because it let me start at 10am, had good benefits, and one of my best friends was working there. I still love this job after 6 years, partly for those same reasons, but mainly because it has transformed me from someone who was going through life without much care or direction, to someone who cares deeply about the world and the people around me. There’s no way I can pay that back, but I can pay it forward by spreading the message of Pathways/Senderos.
I hope to see you on the 28th. Peace.