Pensacola man finds his footing with Pathways for Change
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In 2006, the year the Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation (DCWAF) was created, Chan Cox, DCWAF founder, lost his 30-year-old son, Clinton, to the devastating effects of addiction. To create a legacy for his son and to promote addiction awareness, Cox created the Clinton Cox Memorial Fund from the proceeds of the “paddle raise,” a now-traditional part of the DCWAF’s annual live auction. The memorial fund supports Pathways for Change, which is a faith-based organization that was initially funded by Baptist Hospital in Pensacola.
Since 2005, Pathways for Change has served hundreds of men who are undergoing intensive substance-abuse treatment. Their mission of “Changing Lives, Reducing Crime, Building Futures” is actively preventing heartbreaking losses. Since 2007, DCWAF has raised more than $1.2 million for Pathways. It operates a Residential Treatment Program at the Clinton Cox Residence, and it runs The Family Center in Pensacola — a site that served approximately 600 people and families during 6,885 visits in 2016.
Margot Doelker courtesy Pathways for Change
Following a past filled with physical, emotional and substance abuse, Tim Zoulek seeks the right path thanks to Pathways for Change.
Pathways for Change has put the money from the Clinton Cox Memorial Fund to good use, and many people have taken notice.
“The impact of dollars has brought statewide recognition not only because of the Residential Treatment Program, but because of its success rate, which is twice as successful at half the cost of any other program in the state,” says Pathways for Change founder Connie Bookman, who has operated Pathways for Change for 13 years. Bookman, 58, says her program has a 67 percent success rate with 33 percent recidivism, whereas the state is the opposite: a 33 percent success and 67 percent recidivism. Needless to say, the program is being looked to for replication by four other counties.
Bookman says Pathways’ success is due in large part to private funding from organizations such as DCWAF. “These donations bring eyes and ownership to the community,” she says. Funds from DCWAF enabled Bookman to “adopt” six men into Pathways’ Residential Treatment Program.
The intense 18-month, court-ordered, faith-based treatment program is administered in a secure facility and hinges on structure and discipline. There are six phases to the program: For the first six months, the men enrolled are on lock-down. By nine months in, they will have completed a 27-class curriculum. Then, they are given liberty to do supervised community service projects. During the final portion of the program, they begin to gain independence. They go to work or school, easing into reintegration under the supervision of the reentry director while also attending 12-step meetings and other rehabilitation activities. After treatment, the men live at home, but they can receive up to a year of re-entry treatment.
The program started in 2007 with one graduate; today it has graduated 220 men. Although the program boasts a 100-percent employment rate, it’s not for everyone.
“This program is harder than prison,” Bookman says. “We lose at least one man each quarter, I’d say.”
Everyone is up at 5:30 a.m., and it is expected that each will follow the policies and procedures that are in place for every action. “They have to complete a pink slip to get a Tylenol,” Bookman says.
They also are asked to write a monthly letter to the Chan Cox family and the DCWAF foundation to demonstrate accountability and to discuss the progress of their treatment.
Not surprisingly, the men who are referred to Pathways are individuals who have had a tough go of things. According to Bookman, they are typically fatherless, have a history of substance abuse and have little means. “The program looks at barriers to get these men out of poverty, so we can break that cycle,” Bookman says.