Our History

Located in rural Citrus County, Florida, (approximately 90 miles north of Tampa), The Path has been in operation since 2001 and sheltered over 2,500 homeless or displaced men, women and children. In 2019, after completing a four-year capital campaign, The Path finished major renovations on a motel complex and moved sheltering, programs and operations there. This campus is ideally suited to shelter more women with children, single men with their children and intact families. The Path is a privately funded 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and relies almost entirely upon the private donations of the Citrus and Marion County communities to run its programs.

MILESTONES

1997 - Founder and Executive Director DuWayne Sipper began sharing the vision for a biblically-based shelter and life-transforming addiction recovery program for homeless with local churches and organizations.

1999 - An existing local prison ministry with an established 501-c-3 voted to dissolve and turn over the non-profit By Laws, Articles of Incorporation, and existing funds to The Path with DuWayne Sipper as Executive Director.

2000 - The Path Shelter Bargain Store was opened in Inverness, FL to raise funds and awareness.

2001 - The shelter had its official grand opening in Beverly Hills, located in Citrus County, FL. Two adjacent houses were acquired--one to house up to 6 men and the other to house up to 6 women and their children. Churches, individuals, and organizations remodeled and furnished these houses. Volunteer staff was trained. A detached garage was renovated to serve as a multi-purpose office for case management, life-skills programs, classes and other functions.

2005 - The Path was loaned 10 acres of land to grow pesticides-free vegetables, with an additional 5 acres loaned 5 years later. This farm continues to provide healthy food for both the shelter and local community, plus supervised “work therapy” to help with improving physical health and addiction recovery.

2007 - The Path Shelter Bargain Store moved to its current location in Lecanto, FL and provides a supervised “work therapy” program for men and women at the shelter.

2010 - The Path acquired another adjacent house for sheltering up to 6 more men. For sustainability, a Farm Co-op was started in response to community demand so that locally-grown food was available to residents nearly year round. Also in 2010, The Path of Marion County was established with the opening of Path Bargains, a clothing thrift store in Dunnellon. The objective was to partner with feeding organizations in Marion County and eventually operate a rescue mission south of Ocala.

2011 - The Path acquired 2 more adjacent houses. One was dedicated to expanding addiction recovery bed space for up to 6 more men and the other to program operations, client services and case management.

2013 - The Path acquired a sixth adjacent house for executive administration, development, finance, board activities and donor relations.

2015-2019 – Leadership recognized the need to expand The Path to be able to shelter more women with multiple children, infants to teens, men with their children and intact families. An old motel complex down the street from the existing shelter houses was ideally suited for this vision. When the first lead gift of $300,000 was received from a donor’s estate, leadership officially launched a $1.85M capital campaign to purchase the motel property. Purchase was finalized in 2018 and renovations began.

2019 – By the fall of 2019, men and women at The Path were being sheltered at the renovated motel campus. The cafeteria was opened to clients and programs began operations at this facility.

2020 – In June, The Path officially launched its “New Life Program”: a year-long program of four phases, each lasting approximately three months with evaluation at each phase. Classes were expanded and moved to the daytime to cover physical health, boundaries, anger management, practical and soft life skills, training programs for basic construction and cook skills, spiritual growth, recovery and many other wellness classes—in addition to work therapy at the grounds, bargain stores and farm.

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MORE ABOUT THE PATH’S HISTORY

In October, 2010, The Path of Marion County was launched, under the 501-c-3 umbrella of the Citrus County rescue mission, initially to partner with local organizations to feed the hungry. Please call DuWayne Sipper, Executive Director, at 352-527-6500 ext. 4 to find out how your organization or church can partner with The Path to provide food for the hungry.

In December, 2010 Path Bargains was opened in Dunnellon. This thrift store sells gently used clothing and provides work therapy or fulfills community service hours for men and women staying at The Path's Rescue Mission. The long-term goal is to establish a rescue mission and similar programs in the Ocala area.

The Path's Farm Project grows seasonal vegetables using natural, environment-friendly methods and no pesticides. This farm provides a supervised work program for our rescue mission and community benefits through our Farm Co-op. Farm operations have improved to the extent that Executive Director DuWayne Sipper can teach others how to grow food suitable to our climate and seasons using available, cost-effective natural resources. Our farm continues to provide seasonal varieties of healthy fruits and vegetables to The Path shelter, food distribution groups and small businesses.


HISTORY OF THE PATH’S FARM

2002 - A “back-yard” garden is planted at one of the original shelter houses. The goal was to supplement the shelter food supply with fresh vegetables to address malnutrition often found among the homeless and people in recovery.

2005 - Hernando Church of the Nazarene loaned The Path 10 acres to grow pesticides-free vegetables.

2010 - Recognizing a growing concern around better health, nutrition and rising demand for locally-grown food, The Path introduced a farm co-op program. The purpose was to extend the benefits of healthy food to our community, plus generate revenue for the farm's long-term sustainability. The Path Farm Co-op is an extension of The Path's work program, and utilizes input and team leadership from Path clients who not only work the farm, but organize harvest and delivery of the co-op member baskets to a local produce stand serving as the pick-up location. This local business partners with The Path to help sell our vegetables. LEARN MORE

2011 - 5 acres were added to the original 10 acres.

2015 - In collaboration with local Rotary clubs, The Path set up a fruit grove on 10 acres leased from our county. Fruit would be provided to our rescue mission, county food bank and other food organizations to supply fresh, locally-grown fruit to those in need.

2019 - 14 greenhouses were added for hydroponics farming at the Hernando field, which allows our farm to grow year-round and grow certain vegetables off-season for retail sales, in addition to the Path Farm Co-op memberships. A part-time graduate student manages the greenhouses and hydroponics food. A chicken coop was also built for about a dozen chickens, which feed on the pesticides-free vegetables and lay eggs for the rescue mission.

Today, The Path’s farm project continues to support a full-time farmer and part-time hydroponics farmer. Farming activities provide a supervised work program for shelter clients. An old swimming pool at the rescue mission was filled in and has been re-purposed to grow vegetables and herbs. One of the efficiency units was converted into a germination room to start seedlings and provide work therapy for Path clients. Our local farm extension office and Agricultural Alliance group are consulted as much as possible.

LEARN HOW YOU CAN GET PESTICIDES-FREE FOOD!

The Path Farm & Co-Op