For more than 15 years, LighthousePATH has been helping women and children move from homelessness to independence.

Organization: LighthousePath, a division of Lighthouse of Oakland County, Inc.

130 Center Street, Pontiac, MI 48342
Call: (248) 335-1950
Executive director: Sharman Davenport

Mission: What started as a kind gesture of giving food and clothing to the homeless from the back door of a downtown Pontiac church in 1972 spiraled into Lighthouse -- a full service agency that targets impoverished or abused women, teen and children -- helping them move from crisis and instability to self-sufficiency. Lighthouse Path began in 1991.

Leader: Sharman Davenport says this about her agency: "Making the transition from homelessness to independence is difficult if you don't have the resources for future success. It's our goal to make sure that the women we help receive the right tools for themselves and their children." 

Newest project: Because babies born to teenage mothers are at risk for long term problems in life, Lighthouse Path now helps to intervene with the first program of its kind in Oakland County. The organization recently initiated a teen program capable of housing 10 parenting and and/or pregnant girls and up to 30 children from these families in a rehabbed apartment building on Whittlemore Street in Pontiac. Teens are referred by area agencies that aid in ongoing services. A nurturing professional staff includes a full-time family advocate, daily living coordinator and a therapist on contract. The educational curriculum includes health classes about pregnancy and childbirth.

Continuing service: Lighthouse PATH provides a safe, structured environment for up to 33 homeless women and their children who are referred to the agency by temporary emergency shelters. Participants can live at Lighthouse facilities for up to two years if they agree to participate in job training, life skills, group counseling and other programs. Davenport notes that up to 90 percent of the families served went on to gain permanent housing, returned to school to further their education and secured employment.

Community care: PATH has begun offering classes in its parenting programs to the community parents who have enrolled their children in various programs including PATH Montessori. Parents learn how to nurture self-reliance and flexibility within children. They are encouraged to make family life their top priority.

Biggest obstacle: High unemployment rates and a weak economy have put more families in crisis. Lighthouse has greater need for volunteers and supporters to help people in crisis.

Volunteer needs: A long wish list is posted on the Lighthouse website,, including toys, sippy cups and teethers for babies, juice pitchers and baking pans for the kitchen, buckets, mops, cleaning supplies and shower curtains for households and business clothing for mothers in job training programs. Its pantry can use fresh fruits and vegetables, canned food, personal care items, gas cards and durable medical equipment for ailing seniors.

Events: Lighthouse stages its 25th Annual Hunger Walk on Saturday, June 2, expecting to draw up to 2,500 individuals and corporate teams. Visit the website for details.

Photographs courtesy of Lighthouse PATH

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