Dinnertime came a little late at Haywood Pathways Center Sunday night (Jan. 4), but for all the right reasons. It was the inaugural night for The Open Door’s Hazelwood kitchen, the final piece in turning the dream behind the Pathways Center into reality.
“It might be a few minutes before we get to the pork chops,” said Jeremy Parton, Haywood Pathways’ newly hired kitchen and shelter director. “They might be a little cold, but that’s going to be OK, because there’s not going to be another night like this.”
At T-minus three days until the scheduled opening day for Haywood Pathways Center, Nick Honerkamp still wasn’t sure how to answer the big question: will the shelter open?
“That is the question of the week,” said Honerkamp, one of the leaders of the effort, Wednesday (Nov. 12) morning.
Ty Pennington is a celebrity carpenter best known for “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” a show that involved lightning-quick remodels of less-than-stellar homes for families with compelling stories about why they needed a better living space. After taking the grand prize in a nationwide voting contest sponsored by home loan company Guaranteed Rate, Haywood Pathways Center won Pennington’s help for a day to help make their vision of a prison turned to a center for healing a reality.
It was a scene that any fan — or casual viewer — of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” would find familiar. A crowd, ramped-up and excited, gathered together wearing matching T-shirts. A decrepit property in the background. And Ty Pennington, host of the show, running up in front of them, throwing his arms in the air yelling “Let’s flip this house!”
SEE ALSO: An interview with Ty Pennington
Except when Pennington came to Hazelwood last week, he didn’t say “house.” Instead, he was there to flip a prison. Specifically, the old Hazelwood prison, which dates back to the 1920s and was closed in 2011. Starting Nov. 1, the facility will serve as a center for healing, housing a Christian-based halfway house, soup kitchen and homeless shelter, jointly referred to as Haywood Pathways Center.
It’s going to be an eventful next few days in Waynesville. Haywood Pathways Center is in the final stretch of planning a three-day blitz on the old Hazelwood prison, transforming the former state detention center into a combined soup kitchen, halfway house and homeless shelter. They’ll be doing it with the help of an army of volunteers, untold gallons of paint and board-feet of wood — and help from TV personality Ty Pennington.
It’s official — TV personality Ty Pennington is coming to Waynesville, and Haywood Pathways Center has secured $50,000 of its $300,000 fundraising goal to renovate the old Hazelwood prison.
With the lease drawn up and fundraising underway, most people attending the Haywood County Commissioner meeting last week figured that approving the lease for a trio of Christian groups to renovate the old Hazelwood prison would be a matter-of-fact agenda item. But when the public comment session opened, it became clear that all were not in favor.
What began as a vision to convert a shutdown state prison in Waynesville into a halfway house, homeless shelter and soup kitchen has spiraled into a larger vision of transforming society one life at a time.
Plans are moving forward to convert the old state prison in Hazelwood to a resource center for the hurting, homeless and recently incarcerated. The trio of Christian ministries teaming up to make that happen are already thinking about how they’re going to raise the estimated $300,000 they’ll need to get the facilities up to snuff, but they’re waiting on an official contract to kick their fundraising efforts into high gear.
By Jake Flannick • SMN Correspondent
Haywood County leaders have all but signed off on plans by a pair of faith-based groups running social service ministries in the county to convert a defunct state prison into a homeless shelter and halfway house.