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Haywood Pathways Center, WCU recognized for partnership

Accepting the award at Elon University, (from left) are Emily Freeze, Brian Garland, Beth Wall-Bassett, Amanda Hanson, Chancellor Kelli R. Brown, Lane Perry and Mandy Haithcox .

The Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning at Western Carolina University and the Haywood Pathways Center of Waynesville have been recognized with the 2020 Community Partner Award by North Carolina Campus Compact.

The university has been associated with Haywood Pathways Center since the center’s beginning in 2014, with WCU students, faculty and staff helping transform an old prison in Waynesville into a soup kitchen, homeless shelter and halfway house.

“Western Carolina University, as a community member, is diligent in the role of being a good neighbor throughout the region,” said Lane Perry, executive director of WCU’s Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning. “There is no obstacle or difficult circumstance that can’t be overcome by the best efforts of people coming together, working hard and making a positive difference. The wonderful work to feed, shelter, aid and assist those in need being performed by Haywood Pathways Center is an ongoing partnership, and I’m pleased it has been recognized by our peers.”

The NC Campus Compact is a coalition of 40 public and private colleges and universities throughout the state that build the capacity of higher education institutions to strengthen communities through civic and social responsibility for positive change.

WCU students who volunteered to help transform a closed prison into a shelter, halfway house and soup kitchen help with painting at the Haywood Pathways Center during "WCU Flip the Prison Day" on Friday, Sept. 26.

Some of the WCU students who volunteered to help transform a closed prison into the Haywood Pathways Center during a painting project in September 2014.

WCU has partnered with Rotaract (a Rotary-like organization for college students), service-learning courses and student groups to provide more than $10,000 through fundraising efforts and more than 10,000 of hours of volunteer service hours to the center within the past five years. Among other noteworthy collaborations are a community-based health interventions class that allows WCU nursing students to fulfill the center patients’ health care needs while developing their nursing skills.

A capstone class in WCU’s Integrated Health Sciences Program began a collaborative initiative where students developed an asset map and needs assessment for the center’s board of directors. The students also interviewed clients, served dinner each week, and offered tutoring and childcare services so that parents could attend support meetings and developmental programming. The program also helped about 100 center residents receive dental care.

Later this spring, 24 students in a WCU Recreational Therapy Program behavioral health class will work with the center on intervention-based projects focused on mental health and addiction.

“We can successfully assist people as they move toward restoration and life transformation because of such strong community partners such as WCU,” said Mandy Haithcox, the center’s executive director.

The award was presented at the Campus Compact’s annual Pathways to Achieving Civic Engagement Conference, held Wednesday, Feb. 12, at Elon University.

For more information, contact WCU’s Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning at 828-227-7184 or

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