t600-DSC_0419Thanks to Guaranteed Rate’s Ultimate Neighborhood Giveback Challenge, Haywood County’s effort to turn an abandoned prison into a homeless shelter, soup kitchen and halfway house will be closer to reality as of Sept. 25.

That’s when company executives and reality television star Ty Pennington will visit the project and lead an army of volunteers to renovate and freshen up two dormitories and a kitchen area on the site.

Dubbed the Haywood Pathways Center, the project is a joint effort of the Haywood Emergency Christian Shelter, the Open Door and Next Step Ministries.

Nick Honerkamp, shelter board chairman, said there will be an opportunity for all who want to help during with the project to become involved.

The upcoming visit, plus details about the work weekend from Sept. 25-27, was made at the Haywood Helps gala fundraising event held at Laurel Ridge Country Club Thursday evening.

Attendees learned details of how Haywood Pathways Center would operate and how the center offered a second chance for those determined to turn their lives around.

A surprise of the evening was a video made by Pennington congratulating the Haywood Pathways Center for its vision, hard work and success in winning the first-ever Guaranteed Rate $50,000 challenge grant.

During the Haywood visits, local volunteers will have a chance to mingle with Pennington and the Guaranteed Rate crew as they work at the site. Volunteer crews will be scheduled in shifts to maximize efficiency, but those who can’t get off work on a Thursday are invited to drop by the Hazelwood work site during their lunch hour or break time and watch the progress as the new vision takes shape.

There will be plenty of activities on the work weekend, including a chance to purchase T-shirts or other souvenirs commemorating the occasion. Lunch, drinks and concessions will be available, and there will be other activities as well.

Deb Isenberg, a former corporate event planner and presently the owner of Oak Hill Bed and Breakfast, is coordinating events for the Guaranteed Rate work day. Project contractor Dale Burris will direct work site crews, while Isenberg will coordinate volunteers to work on other fundraising projects in conjunction with the special day.

What needs done

Plans call for having the razor wire on the top of the chain link fence removed prior to the work day, and work projects will include removing the security fence and replacing is with a decorative one, painting, removing the old tile flooring in two identical dormitory buildings and constructing a restroom and laundry area in the kitchen area.

In addition to getting the buildings ready for a planned Nov. 1 opening date, there are other needs and other ways to give the project a boost.

A wish list on the organization’s website www.haywoodpathwayscenter.org includes the items that will be needed to furnish and equip the center. Volunteer Susan Anderson, who recently retired from Mountain Projects, has been contacting local businesses to find prices for the needed items so donors can scroll down the wish list and commit to purchasing the number of items they can afford.

“We felt it was important to use local businesses to supply our needs,” said Mountain Projects Director Patsy Dowling, who helped start Haywood Helps.

There is also an opportunity to be a named sponsor on a permanent plaque to be erected at the project site.

Phase 1 of the project includes renovating the two dormitories and kitchen area and is projected to cost $178,000. In addition to soliciting donations to get the project started, a  number of fundraising activities are planned. Sponsorship information, as well as volunteer and shopping opportunities, are available at www.haywoodpathwayscenter.org.

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