Pathfinder Services hits 50-year mark

John Niederman, Pathfinder Services president, presents Mayor Scott Long with a hand-decorated plaque at the organization’s 50th anniversary celebration on Monday, March 28. The plaque is a token of the organization’s appreciation for attending the event and proclaiming the day as “Pathfinder Services 50th Birthday Celebration” in Wabash. Photo by Emma Rausch

By Emma Rausch

Pathfinder Services celebrated its 50th anniversary on Monday, March 28, at its newest men’s group home in Wabash.

Since 1966, the organization has supported the northeast Indiana region by offering education, training, affordable housing and employment services to people with disabilities and others facing social and economic challenges.

Chant Thompson, the organization’s board chair, welcomed staff, clients and local community leaders to the celebration.

“A group of people thought it’d be great to respond to the needs of the developmentally disabled and started in Huntington, not to far from Wabash, some 50 years ago,” he said, “and those founding fathers and mothers of Pathfinder Services would just be blown away today.”

On June 1, 1988, Pathfinder Services purchased two Arc of Wabash group homes and began its services in the city, according to John Niederman, president.

“We have developed a couple other group homes in Wabash County, one on Pike Street and one in North Manchester, and then supported living sites throughout this community,” he said. “We also brought over our folks who are involved with employing people for resource connection, our division for employment services, and they help citizens of Wabash also who have disabilities to be employed.”

The organization commemorated the achievement on Monday at The South Pointe in Wabash, “a subdivision that Pathfinders was profoundly responsible for facilitating,” Thompson said.

Within the subdivision, Pathfinders Services created and offered 54 new homes to the community through its Community Connections program from 2005 and 2006. The organization is currently working on filling another 26 of the subdivision’s remaining 31 lots.

“But these things don’t just happen,” Thompson said. “They evolve with the energy of a lot of people over a period of time, and the sustainability for 50 years is something to be very proud of.”

For 31 of the company’s 50 years, Niederman has served as the organization’s president.

“Like Arc of Wabash here in town … we also started with children and emerged into an organization today that is a comprehensive community development organization that has over 500 staff and service well over 4,000 people a year through our own region,” he said, “and we are very grateful for the support we’ve received over the years that have enabled us to do that, especially from all of you who are on staff here today and everyday work that you do on of our services.”

Pathfinder Services has a vision looking forward into the next 50 years, Niederman continued.

“That vision is a community in which all people are valued, accepted and have control over destinies,” he explained. “The key thing, value and acceptance, an inclusive community where everybody’s accepted and they have control over their lives.

“Our mission today is to strengthen communities … primarily though by enabling people experiencing developmental or economic challenges to achieve independence, inclusion and stability.”

Wabash City Mayor Scott Long attended the ceremony and proclaimed the day “Pathfinder Services 50th Birthday Celebration.”

“The partnership with Pathfinders to develop this subdivision has been a boom for our community and we’re getting, like he said, to complete the other 26 residencies out here,” Long said before reading the proclamation. “Along with that, some of the things that the city is trying to do, we’re in the process along with part of our Stellar projects is to develop an all-inclusive park for children who are. I like to term, ‘handicapable’ to play with their friends and, not only that, grandparents will be able to take their grandkids to this park and interact with their grandchildren just as you and I would.

“So we’re looking forward to that.”

Posted on 2016 Apr 05