“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.”