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I don’t really want to go into the domestic circumstances that led up to it, but even though I had no car, no money, no work and now, nowhere to live, I walked down our darkened driveway in the middle of the cold starry night with little more than the clothes on my back.

Worse than the dearth of resources, I had no social support structure, and with no real knowledge of the resources available to someone in a short-term housing crisis, there I was, standing in a Maggie Valley gas station mere moments into Thanksgiving Day, in a short-term housing crisis.

The causes of homelessness — and homelessness in Haywood County — are varied and numerous, but according to the Haywood Pathways Center more must be done locally to address the problem regardless of source.

fr forbetterCalvin Mann can’t make it far across the campus of Haywood Pathways Center without bumping into a friend.

fr pathwaysParticipation at the Haywood Pathways Center in Waynesville has been holding pretty steady ever since it opened in late 2014, with about 25 people living on campus, 80 percent of them male.

fr pathwaysDinnertime came a little late at Haywood Pathways Center Sunday night (Jan. 4), but for all the right reasons. It was the inaugural night for The Open Door’s Hazelwood kitchen, the final piece in turning the dream behind the Pathways Center into reality. 

“It might be a few minutes before we get to the pork chops,” said Jeremy Parton, Haywood Pathways’ newly hired kitchen and shelter director. “They might be a little cold, but that’s going to be OK, because there’s not going to be another night like this.”

fr pathwaysAt T-minus three days until the scheduled opening day for Haywood Pathways Center, Nick Honerkamp still wasn’t sure how to answer the big question: will the shelter open?

“That is the question of the week,” said Honerkamp, one of the leaders of the effort, Wednesday (Nov. 12) morning.

fr penningtonTy Pennington is a celebrity carpenter best known for “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” a show that involved lightning-quick remodels of less-than-stellar homes for families with compelling stories about why they needed a better living space. After taking the grand prize in a nationwide voting contest sponsored by home loan company Guaranteed Rate, Haywood Pathways Center won Pennington’s help for a day to help make their vision of a prison turned to a center for healing a reality. 

coverIt was a scene that any fan — or casual viewer — of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” would find familiar. A crowd, ramped-up and excited, gathered together wearing matching T-shirts. A decrepit property in the background. And Ty Pennington, host of the show, running up in front of them, throwing his arms in the air yelling “Let’s flip this house!” 

SEE ALSO: An interview with Ty Pennington

Except when Pennington came to Hazelwood last week, he didn’t say “house.” Instead, he was there to flip a prison. Specifically, the old Hazelwood prison, which dates back to the 1920s and was closed in 2011. Starting Nov. 1, the facility will serve as a center for healing, housing a Christian-based halfway house, soup kitchen and homeless shelter, jointly referred to as Haywood Pathways Center.

fr prisonIt’s going to be an eventful next few days in Waynesville. Haywood Pathways Center is in the final stretch of planning a three-day blitz on the old Hazelwood prison, transforming the former state detention center into a combined soup kitchen, halfway house and homeless shelter. They’ll be doing it with the help of an army of volunteers, untold gallons of paint and board-feet of wood — and help from TV personality Ty Pennington.

fr pathwaysIt’s official — TV personality Ty Pennington is coming to Waynesville, and Haywood Pathways Center has secured $50,000 of its $300,000 fundraising goal to renovate the old Hazelwood prison.

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