Fundraiser helps boost work of Sussex County’s Pathways to Success

From a rooftop perch, Pathways to Success staff and family and friends are joined by The Counting House restaurant and pub owner Bill Clifton, (back right) during the Sept. 5 International Day of Charity event supporting Pathways’ efforts to serve underserved students in four high schools. Standing, from left, are The Rev. Marjorie Belmont-Burns, Pathways to Success board secretary and parliamentarian; Fay Blake, Pathways to Success founder and executive director; Valerie Onley, Pathways to Success executive administrative assistant; Lisa Feddiman, Pathways to Success supporter; Kevin Mason, Pathways to Success supporter; and Bill Clifton, owner/chef, The Counting House. Seated, from left, are Cornelius Blake, Pathways to Success volunteer and supporter; Sarah Gilmour, Pathways to Success outreach coordinator; and Marjorie Wescott, Pathways to Success supporter. (Delaware State News/Glenn Rolfe)

GEORGETOWN — It was a bustling lunch crowd earlier this month at The Counting House.

And since the day had extra special significance, numerous dinner reservations were booked for later that night at the restaurant and pub on The Circle in Georgetown.

Pathways to Success, a nonprofit that supports and guides underserved Sussex County high school students down a successful path in life, was the benefactor.

In celebration of International Day of Charity on Sept. 5, The Counting House earmarked 10% of its sales to Pathways. The fundraiser’s total benefit is still being tallied.

“We want to make sure we can give back to the community as much as possible,” said The Counting House owner/chef Bill Clifton. “We’re a community-oriented restaurant. We get a lot of our things from local vendors and farms and suppliers, artisans, makers of jams and jellies.”

Pathways’ founder/executive director Fay Blake was appreciative.

“No. 1, I want to say, ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you to The Counting House for picking Pathways to Success to be the beneficiary of this particular day as far as charitable giving,” she said.

“We’re very thankful and grateful to The Counting House.”

Mr. Clifton said giving to charities is vital, especially now.

“In times like what we are in right now, it is so easy to forget about everyone else, and Pathways to Success is our neighbor. And you are only as successful as your neighbor,” he said.

“I want to make sure that we can contribute. I went to Milford High. They contribute to Milford High School. So, I want to be able to keep that going.”

Bill Collick, Pathways board of directors’ president, agreed.

“Without a doubt, when we talk about where we are in the country today in a lot of things, we’re very blessed to be able to have establishments like The Counting House,” he said.

“I think it still shows you, in light of some things that are going on, that good people exist everywhere, and they are actually wanting to help.”

Observed annually on Sept. 5 to commemorate the passing of renowned nun and missionary Mother Teresa, International Day of Charity was established to mobilize people and stakeholders worldwide to help others through volunteer and philanthropic activities.

Pathways to Success has a presence at Sussex Tech, Cape Henlopen, Milford and Seaford high schools. Its mission has been made more challenging during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Yes, we have had a challenging year,” said Ms. Blake. “We have over 350 to 400 students that Pathways to Success serves throughout Sussex County at four different high schools. Many of them are underserved. With that comes food insecurity, housing insecurity. We talk about distance learning. Some of the students that we serve don’t have (computers). And with school coming back, some of them will need school supplies and all of those other things.

“So organizations like The Counting House are helping us serve the kids who really deserve at least a solid footing going back into school,” she added.

“Some of them are going to distance learning. Some of them are going to do hybrid. But all of it equals trying to get a good education and trying to make sure that they get the education that they need and the support that they need.”

Pathways receives support from members of the business community and the community at large. Other charitable efforts are in the works from Downstate businesses. One fundraiser is being held Oct. 11-17 through Blooming Boutique, which is donating 20% of its profits from online/in-store purchases at its Lewes, Long Neck and Milford locations.

“I look at the cause, as it relates to Pathways,” Mr. Collick said. “There is no greater cause and no greater thing than to have people take us under their wing so to speak and help us as it relates to funding the things that we do.”

When the pandemic hit in mid-March, Pathways staff and volunteers immediately swung into response mode.

“We worked with the kids, and we worked with the schools, making sure we could deliver meals to kids,” Ms. Blake said. “We also tried to get a bead on those kids who, especially our seniors, didn’t have computers, because they needed to finish their classes in order to graduate on time. We had a graduating class this year of about 80 students, believe it or not.”

Pathways helped seniors with computers and applying to college, whether it was remotely or while distancing.

“We have had coordinators that actually stood in driveways or on doorsteps or on porches, trying to make sure that all of these kids had what they needed,” said Ms. Blake.

“That is the dedication that we have, because we know that our kids are the next generation. They are the future leaders of our communities, whether you are underserved or not. Where you come from or maybe what you have from a financial perspective has nothing to do with who you can and will become and what you can mean to lots and lots of people.”

Pathways also continues to grow.

“We have kids that are looking at food shortages. We have kids that need our help,” said Mr. Collick.

“We have now gone to where we are going to have a mental health individual to come on board and help our kids at the various schools. We’re growing. And it’s just wonderful to have this in place.”