The WAY Center Celebrates 15 Years Of Showing People In Need The Way
by James Coulter
Jalanonda Townsend was down on her luck, struggling, and pregnant. She found her way to The WAY Center in Haines City in June and eventually found her way through them.
She participated in their Way Home program and attended several of their weekend and night classes. Through them, she learned about important life skills such as relationships and nutrition.
Currently, she is taking her GED, and she has since given birth to her child on Sept. 9. Now as a mother receiving her education, her life has turned around for the better, and it is all thanks to the local organization that showed her the way.
“The WAY Center and the Way Home they help you get your life on track,” she said. “I was down. I was depressed. I was broken when I first got started with my Way Home. My attitude, my depression, everything that I was feeling before, I was not feeling that anymore. I am happier and more content and more stable. I feel better than I was a year ago.”
The WAY Center is a faith-based non-profit organization in Haines City. For the past 15 years, their mission has been to help families in need and crisis.
“The WAY Center Mission is to provide a variety of spiritual and social services for families in need or crisis,” their website states. “Our desire is to work with our clients for a period of time to help them overcome obstacles that keep them from meeting personal, financial, and spiritual goals.”
The center offers care through three primary programs. Crisis Care provides people in need basic necessities such as gas cards, clothing, food, and hygiene products. Way Home offers a safe haven for women and children by providing them stable housing and mentoring. The We Can Program is a 12-month program designed to provide its students with the life and job skills to succeed on their own in life.
“The WAY Center is a place where people find hope,” said LeAnn Pierce, Executive Director. “We try to help people who are in crisis and take them to a stable place in their lives so they can be a productive member in society.”
This year proved to be an especially challenging year for them, as they helped many families who had lost income due to COVID-19.
The WAY Center celebrated their 15th anniversary with their annual fundraiser on Thursday evening. The event was hosted at an outdoor venue outside of the city. Normally, they host the event indoors, but decided to host it outdoors this year due to COVID-19. Their event that evening was sold out, with an estimated 230 people attending.
That evening, they officially announced their building campaign. Currently, they are in the process of purchasing the building they have been renting for their main facility for ten years. Their initial goal is to raise $50,000 for the deposit, and they are expected to do that by the end of the year, Pierce said.
“God and a lot of great volunteers [have allowed us to be around for 15 years and counting],” she said. “We are sold out. This is our [biggest] fundraiser we have ever done.”
Marsha Franz is a home mother for the Way Home program. She joined a year ago to work during the day. She enjoys being able to serve and mentor the women in the program, and especially with collaborating with other churches in order to do so.
“For me, the center is a way for helping, reaching out to members of the community,” Franz said. “We love working with people, working with the women, helping where there is a need.”
Kathy Nayrocker serves as a house mother during the evenings and weekends. She works as a first-grade teacher, but she loves her volunteer work at the WAY Center. She considers it especially fulfilling, especially when working with newborn babies.
“It is nice to be able to encourage their ladies in their faith in God and help them to grow in their faith,” she said. “It is also good to be there to encourage them when they get discouraged.”
The WAY Center is located 20 North 6th Street, Haines City, FL 33845. For more information, visit their website at: https://www.thewaycenter.org/