You can sense the relief in Christina Fulsom's voice today when you ask about PATH's future. Just one year ago there was a real concern that the agency that had served Tyler's needy for more than two decades might close. With a revenue shortfall of over 100 thousand dollars PATH was faced with a crisis like never before.
"In our 24 year history it had never happened. Not in the 24 year history," remembers PATH Executive Director Christina Fulsom. "The economic downturn was the culprit. That's what did it. That summer we had a 40 percent spike in the number of client services. Many of the people coming to us were the people that were always making ends meet...barely making ends meet. And suddenly they needed us."
The recession hit on both ends. Demand was skyrocketing while donations and contributions were headed the other direction. 24 years ago PATH was organized by Tyler churches. It had always been a faith based organization. A fact that may have been forgotten by the public and by those who were trying to care for the needs of so many.
"I think last year's crisis did in fact bring us back to the fact that we are a faith based organization. And although we never lost sight of that, it wasn't something that was in the forefront," says Fulsom. "And in fact we used to say that we needed those three things, we needed volunteers, we needed in-kind gifts and we needed monetary gifts. And last summer we started saying we need four things and the number one thing is prayer. And we continue to say that, in fact in all of our publications we continue to reiterate we need prayer first.
Path tightened its financial belt even more. They've hired a new financial director that has helped better organize the agency's future. And while donations remain constant today the needs are still rising and Fulsom says there will be a time in the future when they will not be able to keep up. But this staff believes the crisis of the past year has strengthen not just their operation but their faith. And through the power of prayer People Attempting To Help will be here providing east Texans with hope for years to come.
"Because prayer is what brings the generosity of the people in the community who have the time to give and do it, who have the ability to bring a fan and do that or have the ability to send money. All of that is because of prayer," says Fulsom "I would feel very comfortable saying God made this happen, yes I would feel very comfortable saying that. And we've learned that we can't lose sight of why we are here. And why we were established. And it was a collaboration of congregations coming together and understanding that we are doing god's work."