We had the good fortune of connecting with Hilary Ward and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Hilary, let’s start by talking about what inspires you?
Julian Pathways, Inc. is a nonprofit organization in Julian that provides services and programs to the community through a variety of grants and donations. In the past, the organization focused solely on the children and families associated with the Julian Union School District. Due to the current health crisis and the school closures, the leaders within Julian Pathways, Inc. adjusted their focus to include more of the Julian community in its services. With food insecurity at its highest and so many in the community in need, it became apparent that the organization needed to rise to the challenge of providing support. Already armed with connections to organizations such as Feeding San Diego and the San Diego Food Bank, the nonprofit has stepped in to provide regular food distributions to three different locations in the rural backcountry. Pathways, as it is affectionately called, continues to work very closely with the Julian Union School District and the students there are their top priority. However, those in the organization felt that it was necessary to expand their services to include the community as a whole. In such a small, rural community coming together to help each other is a necessity. Previously, the organization stored a small supply of clothes and shoes for students who were ill-equipped for the mountain weather or needed replacement items during the school day. The organization would have to turn away donations of adult clothing due to limited storage space. Just as with the demand for food has increased, so has the demand for affordable clothes, shoes and household items. The community’s overall level of need inspired the local organization to open a thrift store and resource center. The Pathways Op Shop opened its doors on June 20, 2020 and it has been a roaring success. With the generous donations provided by many within the community and throughout San Diego County, the nonprofit organization has been able to provide a wide variety of items for purchase. All proceeds go back to the services and programs that Julian Pathways, Inc. offers. The 2020 year was definitely an upsetting one however, the struggle for many inspired Julian Pathways, Inc. to become a diaper and food bank and to open a local thrift store to benefit all in Julian. The organization plans to incorporate a resource center at the thrift store location to assist residents with accessing resources such as Medi-Cal, housing options and possibly job opportunities within Julian.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
In 1998, the Julian Union School District was awarded Healthy Cities and Communities Planning and Healthy Cities and Communities Implementation grants to assist the community. A small group of parents, staff and community partners met monthly to develop a plan to better serve the needs of Julian. As a result of their discussions and resident surveys, services focused on health care access, family support, academic assistance and more. The resulting group became Julian Healthy Start. During the next two years, Julian Healthy Start received a number of grants that allowed them to expand their services to include mental health services and a nutrition program for the Julian Union School District students and community seniors. The Julian Backcountry Collaborative was formed to bring a variety of groups together with the goal of promoting the well-being of the Julian community. After the Cedar Fire in 2003, the group, which was named Julian Pathways at the time, and the Backcountry Collaborative provided multiple resources to the 104 students who lost their homes. The school district received the After-School Education and Safety (ASES) grant which allowed Julian Pathways to operate Club Timberwolf at the junior high campus. The biggest challenge has been the financial aspect of running a nonprofit. With funding fluctuating year to year, programs have come and gone however, a few remain and more have been created. The before and after school programs continue to thrive virtually, social services have increased and more counseling opportunities are available due to a licensed marriage and family therapist hired by the organization. It certainly has not been easy however, the group is made of up many strong women who perservere at the very sight of any hurdle that is thrown their direction.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
There are so many wonderful businesses in the small mountain town so the week would be filled with stopping by each store and restaurant at least once. One of the best places to people watch is from a bench in front of the Julian Town Hall. Since Julian is home to miles of trails and many nature preserves, a hike among nature would definitely be a requirement during the visit.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would like to extend a special thanks to those in the Julian Pathways, Inc. organization that make it all possible. Without the support of Kim Simas, Krystin Hunter, Carmen Longoria, Manja Rocco, Tricia Elisara, Sammi Costa, Nancy Younce, Linda Flint and Daniella Phillips, we would not have been able to grow as much in such a short period of time to assist the community.
Instagram: @julianpathwaysinc, @pathwaysopshop
Facebook: @julianpathwaysinc, @pathwaysopshop