Building a community that fosters independence, dignity and pride
For five decades and counting, nonprofit organization PathPoint has thrived on the belief that all individuals—especially those with disabilities or disadvantages—can achieve self-sufficiency and dignity when the proper supports are in place.
“While most organizations target a specific population or demographic, PathPoint is unique in that we design programs that are all-encompassing and have different elements that fit different demographics,” says Charles Bloomquist, PathPoint vice president, Ventura County.
Founded in 1964, the nonprofit organization serves five California counties, with offices in Thousand Oaks and Simi Valley. The organization serves about 2,500 teens to seniors annually and 400 individuals in Ventura County specifically, with offices in Thousand Oaks and Simi Valley.
“From youth programs to senior work training, we offer a program for every participant who comes through our doors,” Bloomquist says. “We take our service model as our mission and apply it to all populations to create an inclusive organization that gives all participants the attention and focus they need to find success.”
Range of Programs
PathPoint offers programs for adults with developmental disabilities, mental illness and at-risk youth. Individuals with disabilities, for instance, engage in PathPoint’s Discoveries Day Program, in which they learn various vocational skills and volunteer at local nonprofits.
PathPoint also offers a program called Individual Supported Employment.
“This is where we work with our participants to secure employment that is a great fit for them and then help them to be successful in that job,” Bloomquist says. “Think of a personal trainer at the gym—that is basically the role our job coaches assume to assist our participants to be the best employees they can be.”
Residential services for folks with developmental disabilities include an Independent Living Services program, in which PathPoint enables folks to live in their own homes.
PathPoint also provides Project SEARCH, a one-year internship in a business setting. Interns attend the program five days a week and work on communication, interviewing, job search, reflection and site rotations.
For at-risk youth, 16 to 24 years old, “We offer our Youth Networked Services,” says Bloomquist. “We help these folks to successfully transition to adulthood by teaching them basic skills, providing meaningful experiences and other resources.”
Ten years ago, PathPoint extended its Behavioral Health Division to Ventura County. Individuals with mental illness are served through the Life Skills Center located in Thousand Oaks.
“Life Skills Center is a recovery, restoration and relapse prevention program for people diagnosed with chronic mental illnesses,” explains Jennifer Newbold, PathPoint vice president, Behavioral Health. “Members increase effective coping skills, decrease isolation and learn skills in managing their mental health diagnosis in this therapeutic social setting.”
Originally established as Work Training Programs in 1964 in Santa Barbara County, the nonprofit was renamed PathPoint in 2008.
“PathPoint was founded following the signing of the Civil Rights Act,” Bloomquist says. “A small group of advocates in Santa Barbara joined together to respond to an RFP from the Department of Labor to demonstrate what it takes to help people on public assistance find work and ultimately achieve independence.”
PathPoint’s founders developed programs that helped people find and hold employment, gain access to their communities, and integrate successfully into society.
“Eventually, PathPoint expanded its services to include day programs, independent living services and behavioral health treatment in five different counties across Central and Southern California,” Bloomquist says.
A Unique Nonprofit
While many of PathPoint’s services are similar to those offered by other organizations, the nonprofit is unique in its “more holistic approach,” offering programs focusing on healing and integration, rather than merely symptom-management.
“Each of our five counties offers different programs that fit the needs of the specific area, whether it be employment services or independent living support,” Bloomquist says.
PathPoint’s programs are individualized and provide support and care while mutually reinforcing the underlying goals of independence and community integration.
“By accomplishing these goals, PathPoint participants are able to transition from a life of dependency to a self-sufficient lifestyle,” Bloomquist says, pointing to its new internship program at the Four Seasons Hotel in Westlake Village as an example.
“We are thrilled to partner with the Four Seasons to provide intensive, real-world hospitality setting employment experiences to our participants,” he says, adding that program participants will likely be offered jobs at the hotel upon completion of the internship.
“This is the classic win-win scenario—the hotel will get highly motivated, dependable employees and our participants will be gainfully employed in an amazing setting,” Bloomquist says.
Learn more at PathPoint.org.