Pathfinder Services evolves in surprising directions to meet Indiana’s changing needs

Pathfinder Services North Campus Sign

“NeighborWorks America News Story”

Of all of the organizations we have researched for this anniversary series, Pathfinder Services of Huntington, IN, has evolved the most dramatically over its 47-year history (the last five as a charter member of NeighborWorks America). And it is among the most diverse as it reaches across sectors – housing, education and job creation to name just a few – to serve its community and fund its programs. Its story is a tale of flexibility, nimbleness and a willingness to take calculated risks.

The roots of the organizations extend back to 1966, when it began as a local affiliate of the Indiana Association for Retarded Children. At the time, a movement was sweeping the country to de-institutionalize people with developmental disabilities – allowing them to live at home, instead of being warehoused in “asylums.” A group of parents in Huntington recruited supporters and funding, then opened a school (“mainstreaming” had not yet arrived to public education) and a sheltered workshop that offered training and employment.

The organization grew rapidly in the following years, including its first foray into housing, when it opened a halfway house for individuals transitioning to independence. But it wasn’t until the early ‘80s that the organization began to widen its focus to serve the community at large – first, persons with all types of disabilities, and then the broader “collective.”

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