People Acting To Help (PATH) about to build at Castor and Cottman

People Acting To Help is a step closer to having a bigger presence in the community.

The nonprofit recently hosted a lengthy groundbreaking ceremony at its soon-to-be new headquarters at 1919 Cottman Ave. (at Castor Avenue).

At present, PATH is at 8220 Castor Ave. (at Emerson Street).

The new site is in a Firstrust Bank property that closed in 2017.

When the bank branch and headquarters closed, CEO Richard Green weighed several offers of sale. In the end, he chose the PATH offer because of how much it provides for the community. Betty Andl-Petkov, PATH’s longtime CEO, recognized Green at the Nov. 22 event.

PATH, founded in 1973, offers behavioral health and intellectual disability services. It has a $45 million annual budget and more than 600 employees. The agency serves more than 4,200 children and adults each year. The new site will also include the work of eight service providers.

The state is providing partial funding for the project, and chief operating officer Jeff Brown thanked state Sen. John Sabatina Jr., state Reps. Kevin Boyle, Jared Solomon and Mike Driscoll and City Councilman Al Taubenberger for their support.

Elected officials joined PATH officials to break ground on the agency’s new headquarters at 1919 Cottman Ave.

Dan McElhatton, PATH’s corporate counsel, thanked the Castor Bustleton Cottman Business Association and Rhawnhurst Civic Association for their support, and Firestone for being a good neighbor.

Andl-Petkov, a 41-year employee who has been CEO for 34 years, said the new location will be convenient for public transportation. She explained that, in addition to renovating the former bank property, PATH will build an addition and a second building, along with a garden.

The new site will be 76,370 square feet, 2½ times bigger than the present property. A ribbon cutting will take place sometime in 2021.

Taylor Schaffer is a participant in PATH’s behavioral health program. She was reluctant to go to PATH in 2017, but said the agency has helped her use public transportation and improve her social skills.

“Thank you to PATH for helping me start a new chapter in my life,” she said.

Rosette Proodian’s son, Greg, has participated in PATH’s intellectual disabilities program for 12½ years. She thanks her colleagues at Vision for Equality for pointing her in the right direction so her son would not sit home idle and regress.

“I can’t say enough about the respect and open door of the administration and staff at PATH,” she said.

Sabatina grew up on Emerson Street and recalls his mom telling him, “They help people,” when he asked about the PATH building.

“You truly do God’s work,” he said.

Sabatina is also glad to see the project providing 265 construction jobs and 100 permanent jobs.

Solomon noted the new property will be a nice complement to the 2nd Police District headquarters coming to 7306 Castor Ave. He believes PATH will be an anchor property that will help transform Castor and Cottman.

“This is great development in Northeast Philadelphia,” he said.

Don Kligerman, president of Fairmount Ventures, which works to strengthen nonprofits like PATH, said the Northeast has the city’s lowest social capital. He hopes the PATH expansion leads to the Northeast having the city’s highest social capital.

Boyle picked up on that theme, noting the Northeast is home to up to 400,000 residents.

“We don’t get the services we deserve, generally from the city,” he said.

Taubenberger pointed out that Narberth is closer to City Hall than Castor and Cottman. He is a great fan of PATH’s mission.

“The work that is done here will change lives,” he said. ••