Located in rural Citrus County, Florida, (approximately 90 mi. north of Tampa), The Path has been in operation since 2001 and sheltered over 1,500 homeless or displaced men, women and children. Most were from Citrus County.
Through the joint efforts of community churches, scores of volunteers, private donors, donations and local grants, The Path of Citrus County initially provided one house dedicated to the needs of homeless men, one house dedicated to the needs of homeless women and their children, an administrative office, a play area and sanctuary garden. A second (adjacent) shelter house for men was acquired in August 2008. In 2010, a fourth adjacent house was added.
In 2012, a fifth house was acquired for expanded Client Services administration. This facility will be utilized for client activities, general meetings, case management and other operations functions. In 2013, a sixth adjacent house was acquired for administration, finance, development, community relations, board meetings and donor relations.
Clients are sheltered in four adjacent houses in Beverly Hills, Florida. Each has capacity for 6 beds (two houses for six men each, one house for six women, one house for emergency sheltering for individuals and families with several children, bed capacity of 6)). Each house includes personal space, laundry, kitchen/dining area, bathrooms, and common area. The Path can accommodate single parents (male or female parent) and their children. Other facilities include storage, shelter food pantry, and a multi-purpose building for onsite programs.
A leased property in the Inverness area (Citrus County) includes a house that can accommodate Path shelter graduates or interns. This property also includes a green house, wood shop, refrigerated storage, and other environmentally-friendly farming activities. The facility is ideally suited and equipped to teach trades in woodwork or agriculturally-related skills.
The Path also operates two bargain stores for added sustainability, supervised work for clients, fulfillment of court-ordered community service hours, employment or job-retraining, and to provide benefits to our community. The original bargain store, now located in Lecanto, Florida, has been in operation for more than 10 years and sells new or gently used-furniture, appliances, household furnishings and other items. The newest bargain store in Dunnellon sells gently used clothing.
Introducing The Path of Marion County
A hot meal is often the first step to hope and a new life. In October, 2010 The Path of Marion County was launched, under the 501-c-3 umbrella of the Citrus County rescue mission, initially to partner with local organizations to feed the hungry. We need your help to partner with local churches or feeding programs to provide the dining halls so that we can all help our hungry neighbors by serving a hot meal, not only during the holidays but throughout the year. A warm, nutritious meal is often the first step toward a new life.
In December, 2010 a second bargain store-Path Bargains-was opened in Dunnellon. This store sells gently used clothing and provides work therapy or fulfills community service hours for men and women staying at The Path's rescue mission.
The long-term goal is to establish a rescue mission and similar programs in the Ocala area.
Please call Mr. DuWayne Sipper, Executive Director at 352-527-6500 extension 4 if your church or organization has a feeding program and would like to partner with The Path.
The Path's Farm Project
The Path's Farm Project grows seasonal, vegetables using natural, environment-friendly methods and no pesticides. With the original goal of supplementing the shelter food supply with fresh vegetables to address malnutrition often found among the homeless and people in recovery, the farm has expanded from backyard garden in 2002 to a 15-acre farm on loaned land presently. This farm provides a supervised work program for our rescue mission and community benefits through our Farm Co-op. Yields are estimated at 10,000 to 15,000 lb of produce.
This 15- acre farm serves as a supervised work program for the men and women at The Path to grow the food. We expanded on this foundation to build strategic networks and community interest. Originally we intended to share our natural farming methods as a more long-term community solution to the ongoing food relief for working poor families, disabled, unemployed and the elderly. Soon, the individuals and groups involved in these efforts also began to express interest in learning to grow vegetables naturally as a way to pursue healthier lifestyles and supplement household food budgets.
In addition to supplying fresh healthy food and a work program for Path shelter clients, surplus has been available for community feeding programs that provide food relief. The abundance has also earned some revenue with sales to a few small businesses.
Crop yields improved significantly with the addition to staff of a full-time farmer, better equipment and improved farming methods, such as starting seedlings in trays and using worm castings, "river muck" and other readily-available natural resources to enrich the soil. For added sustainability, a Farm Co-op was launched in the fall of 2010 as a further health bonus to the community.
Farm operations have improved to the extent that Executive Director DuWayne Sipper can teach others how to grow food suitable to our climate and seasons using available, cost-effective natural resources. Our farm continues to provide seasonal varieties of healthy fruits and vegetables to The Path shelter, food distribution groups and small businesses. Path clients and volunteers contribute ideas and participate in most farming activities: tilling, planting and transplanting seedlings, harvesting, operating or repairing farm equipment, rigging irrigation, team leadership, and most distribution activities, including weekly preparation of food baskets for co-op members.
Recognizing a growing concern around better health, nutrition and rising demand for locally-grown food, The Path introduced a farm co-op program in the fall of 2010. The purpose was to extend the benefits of healthy food to our community, plus generate revenue for this project's long-term sustainability.
The Path Farm Co-op is an extension of The Path's work program, and utilizes input and team leadership from Path clients who not only work the farm, but organize harvest and delivery of the co-op member baskets to a local produce stand serving as the pick-up location. This small business partners with The Path to help sell our vegetables.
For more information about The Path Farm Co-op, membership options or to sign up, call 352-527-6500 extension 8, M-F from 9am-4:30pm.