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Giving Young Adults a Chance

Visions & Pathways Nurtures Young Adults Facing Difficult Situations

For most teenagers, turning 18 is a joyful rite of passage. This was not the case for Ashley. The day before she turned 18, her parents informed her that she could no longer live with them. She packed up and left, not knowing where to go or what to expect. With no money and no other adult support, Ashley had 24 hours to find a place to live. 

The choices were few and intimidating—until she came across Visions & Pathways in Bridgewater, which meets the needs of abused and neglected youth. She contacted its Street Smart Outreach counselors to ask for help. The counselors are available 24/7 to provide a safe haven to youth like Ashley. She interviewed for a spot in Passages, a supervised transitional-living housing program, and moved in on her birthday. 

Founded in 1970, Visions & Pathways has sought out and helped more than 11,000 abused, neglected, homeless, missing and at-risk youth. Its programs are designed to build self-esteem and teach young people the skills necessary to thrive. First, the staff meets their basic needs like food and safe housing, then they offer counseling, education assistance, life skills training, arts and recreation, career and employment counseling, mentoring programs, scholarships and financial literacy instruction. 

The agency’s seven residential centers can house 46 residents. The continuum of housing and care options help young people attain greater levels of independence as they move through the programs. The centers include: Brahma House, a residential crisis intervention program and emergency shelter; Passages, My Place and Whitney House, which are residential transitional-living programs that group residents by age and need; Loving Care Home, which provides a safe place for young women; and the Bridge and Village Houses where older residents pay nominal rent and continue to participate in support programs as they move toward complete independence. While the organization is based in Bridgewater, it offers services to at-risk youth from anywhere in the state. 

In addition to housing, Visions & Pathways provides a diverse range of programs, including the Pathways independent living skills educational program, the Transitional Learning Center for in-house instruction, an arts and recreation program and an aftercare program, which offers youth continued support and stability when they leave a Visions & Pathways residence. Its recreational activities foster social skills. For example, this winter, 20 residents went to see the Bronx Zoo Holiday Lights. 

The agency serves young adults of all cultures, religions and backgrounds. Its objective is to develop a trusting relationship and offer non-judgmental and consistent support. Residents are expected to follow house rules and continue productive lives by attending school or working. 

“Our programs help youth see their potential for success and guide them along the often-difficult path of becoming a thriving adult,” says David Walker, CEO and executive director. “Ultimately, our programs help end the cycle of dependency.”

The agency has exciting future plans. Recognizing that science, technology, engineering and mathematics are an important knowledge base for today’s youth, it is building a technology center, which is funded by The Arman Roy Foundation, to nurture residents’ interest in science and math. It also has launched a capital campaign to build additional housing in Bridgewater to support clients who are further along in their journey to complete independence. 

Volunteers are an essential part of the community. They staff the Street Smart Outreach as well as help with event planning, fundraising, age-based group mentoring programs, arranging and chaperoning recreational outings, and helping the organization gain exposure in the community. 

Ashley is representative of Visions & Pathways’ mission for its residents. While she came to the program under difficult circumstances, she had a goal and the drive to succeed. Envisioning a bright future, she took advantage of the programs and participated in counseling sessions and life skills training so she could become self-sufficient. 

Always a motivated student, Ashley focused on her education, completing high school and then enrolling in the nursing program at Raritan Valley Community College. She transitioned through the different housing programs to the Village House independent living program. The staff assisted Ashley with scheduling a driver’s education course and helped her obtain her driver’s license—a pivotal step in her burgeoning independence. 

In May 2020, Ashley graduated with an Associate in Applied Science in Nursing degree. After passing the Registered Nurses exam in August, she began working in the Hunterdon Healthcare System. Life for Ashley has come full-circle: She now cares for the community that took care of her.

Ashley acknowledges that becoming a nurse during a pandemic has been interesting. “I chose nursing because I love helping people and seeing the impact I can make on someone’s life on a daily basis,” she says. “As a new nurse since August 2020, I have learned a lot. I love my job!” 

As someone who has seen dark times and made it through, Ashley’s advice to others who may be facing similar challenges is this: “Always make goals for yourself and never let anyone tell you can’t do something. You can do anything you put your mind to!” 

Learn more about Visions and Pathways and the ways you can help at

  • Ashley, Once on the Verge of Being Homeless at 18, is Now a Registered Nurse
  • Brahma House
  • Passages
  • My Place
  • Youth Attend a Personal Finance Class
  • Whitney House