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Point the way

Local nonprofit puts people in their place


HARDWORKING MEN AND WOMEN :  Aline Graham (center right), who directs PathPoint, and Mariá Méndez (center left), the job coordinator, provide top-notch employees for such area businesses as Trader Joe’s. - PHOTO BY MATT FOUNTAIN
  • HARDWORKING MEN AND WOMEN : Aline Graham (center right), who directs PathPoint, and Mariá Méndez (center left), the job coordinator, provide top-notch employees for such area businesses as Trader Joe’s.

It’s been a hard year for nonprofit organizations. Despite the economic recession and state budget cuts however, one important local organization is pulling through without skipping a beat.

PathPoint, formerly Work Training Programs, helps people with disabilities or economic disadvantages realize their dreams by teaching vital employment and independent living skills. In San Luis Obispo County alone, the organization provides a wide range of services to approximately 400 people, along with more than 2300 people annually statewide. They offer community access services to individuals with special needs and seniors looking to stay social. In addition, PathPoint offers independent living services, going beyond simply delivering home meals to assisting people with their finances, filling prescriptions, instructing on healthy living, and much more.

PathPoint provides employment services, training people with disabilities to help them be job-ready. Barbara Furia, PathPoint’s employment specialist, talks directly to employers in the community in search of openings that would offer the best match for individuals, based on their experience and interests. She also helps clients to hone resume and interviewing skills. Furia is good at what she does: The organization boasts an 85-percent job retention rate by clients.

“I think the market right now is swamped with job seekers everywhere and one of the things that services like ours provides is to really help find the right match for people, really hone-in their skills and abilities for a particular position,” said PathPoint Director Aline Graham. “When you have someone that you know will be a good match for the position, that can really help cut through the layers.”

The organization has benefactors. For example, throughout the month of September, Men’s Warehouse has been sponsoring a suit drive, encouraging members of the community to donate a suit at any of their locations. At the end of the month, the department store will deliver the suits to PathPoint, matching a free tie for every suit collected. These will go directly to clients in PathPoint’s employment services. Last year, the drive collected more than 200 suits in Santa Barbara County—enough, Furia said, to last the organization through the year.

PathPoint sponsors many events, including the upcoming Hues of Life Art Show from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 26, featuring art from clients. In honor of National Disability Employment Month, they will also sponsor a disability mentoring project on Oct. 21, in which participants will have the opportunity to shadow employees at local businesses.
The organization urgently needs donations and volunteers to maintain the breadth and quality of operations. Call PathPoint at 782-8890 or visit their website at

Fast facts

Donate to help people who lack homes. The number of clients at the Prado Day Center and Maxine Lewis Memorial Homeless Shelter is mounting. Food, blankets, everyday basic necessities, and financial donations are critical to sustain clients, many or most of whom resided in their own homes in the county until losing shelter. For more information about donating, contact Homeless Services Director Dee Torres at or call her at 786-0617…

Come celebrate Green Goods’ new location, at 3071 S. Higuera St. in SLO. Green Goods deals exclusively in green building supplies, design consultation, and construction services. Free educational workshops, a raffle, a meet-and-greet mixer, and many other activities will take place at Green Goods on Saturday, Sept. 19 from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. All flooring prices will be reduced 10 percent that day, as well. Call Green Goods at 543-9900. …

Woods Humane Society is hosting a special discount $60 “Laptop Sale” of adorable feline companions throughout September. Visit and click on the link for adoptable pets to see pictures and descriptions of cats available for adoption, spaying or neutering and vaccinations included. For further information, call 543-9316 or stop by the shelter at 875 Oklahoma Ave. …

PREFACE and SLO County Reads are presenting The American Place Theatre’s Literature to Life production of Flight Wednesday, Sept. 23 in the Spanos Theatre on the Cal Poly campus at 7 p.m. The professionally staged, verbatim theatrical adaptation includes a 15-minute pre-show interactive discussion, a one-hour performance, and a 15-minute post-show discussion. For more information on the production or the PREFACE program, contact Kristine Tardiff at 781-5783 …

Youths 11 years and older can learn the skills to become a qualified babysitter in a course instructed by the American Red Cross. The Super Sitter Class will teach participants how to interview for jobs, diapering and feeding, bedtime issues, first aid, safety, and more. The course will be conducted from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 19 at the South County Family Education and Cultural Center at 867 Ramona Ave. in Grover Beach. Registration is $50. For more information and to register, call 473-1421.

Interns Matt Fountain and Chris Jagger wrote this week’s Strokes&Plugs. Send your business and nonprofit news to

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