Homework can be hard and boring enough, but for a first-generation American child with a language barrier and parents who do not speak English, this everyday task can be near impossible.
Many of these children also live in mobile home communities, so Path United fills in the gap by hosting an afterschool program within walking distance of these students’ homes.
"The power of the immigrant spirit that is present in these neighborhoods is a reflection of the story of America," said Path United Executive Director Jim Hollandsworth. "People [are] coming to this country to work and provide an opportunity for their children that they didn't have in their own country...I could trace that same story through my family generations ago."
Path United works specifically with kids growing up in mobile home communities in many areas of Northeast Georgia. In Gainesville, the nonprofit works in the Baker & Glover community off of Cleveland Highway.
Hollandsworth said nonprofit staff focus on these kids because they may not otherwise have access to resources and are at higher risk to go down a destructive path.
"These kids are growing up to be members of our community longterm and they are amazing people, amazing kids with amazing gifts and abilities," said Hollandsworth.
Path United is a faith-based nonprofit that was initially founded 11 years ago in Gwinnett County as a way to help kids living in mobile home communities with their homework. Hollandsworth referred to Path United as, "Christians who love our neighbors in mobile home parks."
Recently, the nonprofit has evolved to have its own curriculum that teaches kids life skills with a faith component.
"We start off with a book and then I'll either do writing or we'll do a craft," said Nayeli Espinoza, site director for Path United in Baker & Glover. "After that they'll do 15 minutes of homework and then we'll do Bible time for 15 minutes."
Path United serves children in grades Kindergarten all the way through high school. Monday through Thursday, a different grade level visits the community center located in the Baker & Glover neighborhood.
The students are dropped off by the school bus and walk to the community center. They usually arrive by 2:45 p.m. and wrap up at 5 p.m.
Espinoza said the extra help makes a big difference for the students, from the youngest learner struggling with their vocabulary to the high school senior who is the first in their family to go to college.
"Last semester there was a little boy in fifth grade who just really struggled with his vocabulary and his spelling words...we would sit down and make index cards and we would study until he got everything perfect," said Espinoza. "And a lot of kids that we have served are in their first or second year of college now."
Espinoza was a participant in the program until she graduated high school.
"It's amazing that I now get to give back to my community and serve them," said Espinoza.
Path United was established in the Baker & Glover community four years ago when Regional Director Meredith Pierce and Hollandsworth, who are cousins, decided to combine their programs. Pierce was running a similar program at the time through Gainesville First United Methodist Church.
The two decided to work in the Baker & Glover community, where they were welcomed. The nonprofit purchased the mobile home that serves as its Gainesville community center in the fall of 2018.
More information about Path United is on its website, pathunited.org.