Pathways to Success honored students and sponsors at its first Pay it Forward event to celebrate young people paying forward their own paths to success.
The July 21 event at Baywood Greens recognized students and sponsors who have worked to help children in at-risk communities.
Keynote speaker Kasiyah Tatum, 18, who will be attending University of Delaware this fall, said when she came to Pathways, she was very quiet and reserved, but she found a community that could relate to her and talk to her and she learned to think of Pathways as her safe haven, where she would not feel alone. Tatum said the community helped her through one of the most difficult times of her life, when her grandmother, who had raised her since she was a baby, passed away her junior year. She said her fellow students and teachers at Pathways allowed her to cry and tell them why she was hurting.
“Pathways is home. It will always be home,” Tatum said. “Thank you all for all the contributions you make. It does make a difference.”
Tatum was one of three students to be honored with Pathways’ Outstanding Student Achievement Award. Fellow winners were Amaya Hudson and Shania Hendricks. Founder Fay Blake said the program has a 98 percent graduation rate and a 96 percent rate of kids going on to college, jobs or the military.
“Behind every one of those statistics is a child who has gone through a tremendous amount to walk across that stage, to shake that employer’s hand or to walk into their community and say, ‘I’m the first graduate,’” Blake said. “If there is anything that Pathways to Success does, it’s to look at the human being. It is our job to find out what our kids need and help them obtain it.”
The Pay It Forward Awards went to Scott Kammerer of SoDel Concepts, Lisa DiFebo-Osias of DiFebo’s restaurants, the Rev. Rick Betts of Crossroad Community Church in Georgetown, ALOFT AeroArchitects of Georgetown Chief Financial Officer Sandy Taras, Connie Halter of Cape Henlopen High School and Charlotte King, founder of the Southern Delaware Alliance for Racial Justice.
Other awards included the Ms. Paula’s Dream Memorial Scholarship, named for the late educator Paula Hudson, and presented to Britney Malchild.
Special awards were presented to retiring Cape Henlopen High School football coach Bill Collick and to Pathways outreach coordinator Sarah Gilmour.
Blake said, “When you throw a pebble into a still body of water, the ripples go on. They just kind of radiate outwards until you can’t see them anymore, but there’s a disturbance. Every time one of you sows a good seed, whether its time, talent or effort, you’re creating a positive disturbance that radiates from the epicenter. I believe what everyone of you do in this room does is you change the trajectory of children’s lives by what you give and what you do. It really is for a lifetime.”