Seminarians of St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary Engaged in Missionary Charitable Activities in North Carolina
Seminarians of St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary Engaged in Missionary Charitable Activities in North Carolina

With the blessing of His Eminence Archbishop Daniel, a group of seminarians of St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA, who partnered with the Consistory Office of Christian Charity (under the leadership of Protodeacon Ihor Mahlay) traveled for over 750 miles from the Spiritual Center of the UOC of the USA to Waynesville, NC in order to deliver over 200 packages of diapers and clothing to the local North Carolina Haywood County.

Just a week ago, Vladyka Daniel (accompanied by Very Rev. Fr. Antony Perkins) visited the Haywood Pathway Center in Waynesville, NC that provides care for the homeless individuals and those in need to rehabilitation and assistance. Both clergy of the Church learned about the practical needs of the local humanitarian Christian shelter, and Vladyka Daniel promised to return to North Caroline in the nearest future with a donation of the most necessary needs for the individuals in residence.

With the blessing of Metropolitan Antony, Archbishop Daniel and seminarians of the Church subdeacon Ivan Venhryn, Yaroslav Bilohan, Myroslav Mykytyuk and Pavlo Vysotstryi delivered to Haywood Pathway Center boxes of diapers and clothing for the individuals in need on June 4-5, 2019.

Archbishop Daniel and seminarians, accompanied by Reader Aidan Buchanan of the newly-established Orthodox mission (under the spiritual omophorion of the UOC of the USA)met with the Executive Director of Haywood Pathways Center Mrs. Mandy Haithcox, who personally gave a tour of the property to the seminarians of the Church and shared with everyone in attendance various ministerial opportunities that the faithful of the Church could partake in. Mrs. Haithcox, stated that basic vision of the Center is to be a faith-based, comprehensive ministry that brings life transformation in a safe, accepting and caring environment; to develop disciples of Christ through His love and mercy, shelter the homeless, feed the hungry, produce self-sustaining citizens of Haywood County, and decrease recidivism (repeat offenses) in the community.

Seminarians of the Church learned that the idea of the Haywood Pathways Center began in early 2014 when two men were released from the local jail. The Haywood County Sheriff watched as they walked out the doors and sat down on the sidewalk in front of the building. He walked outside and asked them where they were going. The men replied they had nowhere to go except the same places that brought them trouble and got them put in jail in the first place. Looking over at the empty, unused former prison facility, the sheriff wondered, “What if the very walls used to punish those who had committed crimes could be used as a place to help those, without hope, find a lifeline?”

Also in 2014, the Haywood Christian Emergency Shelter, which had operated as a cold weather shelter in Haywood County since 2009, learned it was no longer going to be able to lease the building it had been using for the shelter in the winter months. In talks between the President of the homeless shelter and the Haywood County Sheriff, a vision began to take form-transitional housing for individuals being released from jail with no place to go and a year round shelter for the homeless.

The combination of a sheriff who was tired of arresting the same people over and over, a need for a place for a homeless shelter, a community kitchen willing to expand, the commitment of numerous volunteers, town and county officials, churches, businesses and organizations came together and the vision became a plan. Haywood Christian Emergency Shelter, Next Step Ministries and The Open Door accepted the challenge and became the three agencies around which all others could gather.

With a plan in place, the next step was to raise funds—and it needed to happen quickly. Without a place to house the homeless shelter, the winter of 2014 was going to be very difficult and dangerous for the homeless in Haywood county.  Fund raising began in earnest, but what was needed was a big boost—something to really kick everything off. Learning of an online voting contest; The Ty Pennington Guaranteed Rate Ultimate Neighborhood Give back Challenge, the three groups decided to enter – even though it was late in the game and the odds were against them.  Haywood County residents rose to the challenge and Haywood Pathways Center won out over 300 other entries for a $ 50,000 prize and a visit from Ty Pennington to “Flip the Prison.”

“Motivating a community, having people rally and want to do something positive, sometimes all you need is a belief in yourself, that you can do it.

What has blown me away is that these guys have really convinced a lot of people that this is going to be a phenomenal thing.”— Ty Pennington

After the September 25, 2014 kickoff with Ty Pennington where more than 1000 volunteers came together to renovate the old prison, the effort continued to raise funds and complete the work needed to open the doors before winter.

In less than a year after conception, Haywood Pathways Center opened the doors to their first guests on November 15, 2014. Although the kitchen still was not ready, and guests had to be transported to The Open Door for meals, they had a warm place to stay during those cold winter nights. On January 5, 2015 the kitchen was ready, and the first meal was served. Haywood Pathways Center was fully operational from that moment on.

…Food, a basic necessity in life, is an important component of Haywood Pathways Center. The community is blessed to have a fully equipped kitchen, large and welcoming dining room, caring and loyal stores, individuals, churches and organization that supply us with food and faithful volunteer crews who plan, prepare and serve an evening meal 7 days a week to the guests and the community.

Haywood Pathways Center is committed to providing the guests with the comfort and reassurance of God’s love throughout the day. Meals begin with prayer and devotions.

Breakfast at Haywood Pathways Center is planned, prepared and served by the guests of the center. Breakfast is open only to guests of the center as this is a time of fellowship, completing morning chores and making plans for their day off campus. The kitchen chore team is responsible for cleaning the kitchen and dining room after all have eaten, and before they leave for the day.

Lunch is not served at Haywood Pathways Center as the guests are not on campus at lunchtime. Some are in classes, others volunteering, seeking employment or working. Lunch is served at The Open Door, a Christian ministry in Waynesville’s Frog Level District, where all are welcome, regardless of ability to pay. For guests who will be unable to go to The Open Door for lunch, a bag lunch can be requested from the kitchen cook team, a day in advance, to take with them.

Dinner is served at Haywood Pathways Center 7 days a week. The evening meal is open to guests of the center, as well as to anyone in need in the community; men, women and children. Meals are planned, prepared and served by volunteer crews from local churches and organizations. Menus vary with the season and /or donations that have been received that week.

Haywood Pathways Center continues to make history. The homeless have a warm place to sleep, the recently released have a place to get their lives in order, the hungry have a place to eat. Lives are being transformed—people are finding jobs, homes, family and God.

Touring the property, while speaking with the residents, staff and administrators of Haywood Pathways Center, Archbishop Daniel stated that the ministry that is being offered by the local Christian outreach communities is exactly the work that the Primate of the UOC of the USA, His Eminence Metropolitan Antony often calls upon the parishes of the Church to be involved in. Archbishop Daniel committed to assist the Center with the donation of diapers that are needed for the newest project of the Center, providing housing for the homeless newly born children and their mothers that are in need of a place to live and care for the infants.

His Eminence also stated the Consistory Offices of Christian Charity (under the leadership of Protodeacon Dr. Ihor Mahlay) and Youth and Young Adult Ministries (under the leadership of Mrs. Natalie Kapeluck-Nixon) in the past have engaged themselves in various outreach ministries in the local communities in the USA and the Haywood Pathways Center might become a future destination for the High School and College Age Students Mission Trips in the United States of America.

Departing the local Waynesville, NC Orthodox Christian community, Archbishop Daniel and the seminarians of the Church made a solemn promise to keep the charitable outreach program in their prayers and to raise awareness of the needs of the Appalachian North Carolina community.

Seminarians of St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary Engaged in Missionary Charitable Activities in North Carolina

Photos by Seminarian Yarosalv Bilohan

(42 images)

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