The Life-Changing Impact of PATH North Dakota
RDO Caters Taters for Charity has been a mainstay in the Fargo-Moorhead community for 20 years, serving up more than 40,000 spuds at the annual luncheon events while raising nearly $675,000 for local charities. But all numbers aside, there’s another aspect of the event with tremendous, if unmeasurable, value: awareness. PATH North Dakota, this year’s benefiting charity, impacts hundreds of children and families each year through traditional and treatment foster care, independent living services, family support offerings, and more. Yet, many people are unaware of the immense need for these services or of the vital role PATH plays in supporting strong communities across North Dakota. Angie Pogue, UCC Specialist at RDO Equipment Co., was in this same situation. She too had little familiarity with PATH – that was before her family was referred to its services. But that referral was the beginning of a journey that would forever impact Angie and turn her into a champion of PATH’s mission and the people it serves. A Passion Sparked Angie’s first knowledge of PATH came when her stepdaughter was referred to the Family Support Program for help with mental health diagnoses. The Family Support Program is one of PATH’s many offerings, connecting the families of children who have mental health diagnoses with specially trained mentors, who provide support and relief care. In the two years that Angie’s family utilized the program, the impact was unmistakable. “My stepdaughter made so much progress with all the extra support,” she said. “And it helped us to be better parents to her too because we also learned skills to better deal with what she was experiencing.” With a new awareness of PATH and the positive effect of the Family Support Program, Angie decided to become a provider of the support that she and her family so greatly benefited from. It was a decision that would change her life. Two-Way Impact Angie’s first step was to become a licensed foster parent, a requirement for providers in all of PATH’s many program offerings. In the certification process, Angie received regular training and insight into the world of foster care, which she found highly valuable, both personally and in her support roles. As a Family Support mentor, Angie was paired up with children in need who spent as many as six nights per month in her care for as long as two years. “What was involved depended on the child,” Angie recalled. “There were times where I attended appointments or meetings. But mostly it was trying to help them with social skills and help them to feel like a normal kid when they’re dealing with these issues.” In addition to providing relief care for the child, mentors also work with parents, sharing observations, discussing struggles, and working together to find ways to help. Angie spent six years as a mentor in the Family Support and Case Aide and Parent Support Programs, and looking back, she reflected on the ways that her efforts impacted her and those around her. “It’s a life-changing experience,” she said of being a provider. “Of course, there are struggles being involved with this kind of thing, but it makes you a more compassionate person. What some of these kids have gone through, it’s super eye-opening.” For Angie, the observable results of her support are among the most cherished rewards of her participation. “I saw the biggest impact on my son,” she said. “He grew up with me doing Family Support and learned from early on that there are a lot of kids with a lot of struggles, but they’re still kids,” she said. “He learned not to judge and to be compassionate and understanding.” Angie forged lasting relationships as a mentor and keeps in contact with one of the children—now a young adult—who she mentored for the full two-year span. “Seeing her go out and succeed now is such a cool thing to me,” Angie said. “That makes me happy. I played a part in helping her get there.” Foster children and children with mental health diagnoses often face daunting odds on the journey to successful adulthood, but the resources offered by PATH can be a crucial help. “Without that support, a lot more of these kids wouldn’t end up in good places,” Angie said. “But because of it, more of them are able to finish high school, go to college, and get jobs out of school.” The very real results of Angie’s efforts stand testament to the affect PATH has on the people it serves, and with an unwavering demand for its services in North Dakota communities, supporters of RDO Caters Taters have an opportunity to make a difference. PATH in the Spotlight When PATH was announced as the benefiting charity for the 20th-annual RDO Caters Taters event, Angie was elated at the chance to share her passion for the organization that’s earned a permanent home in her heart. “I have been hoping for years that they’d be selected, and I was practically dancing in my chair when I saw the news.” As an RDO team member, Angie seized the opportunity to get directly involved in the planning and preparation for this year’s event. To her, the selection for RDO Caters Taters is a tremendous way for community members to show support for PATH and learn more about the importance of its work. “A lot of foster kids and kids with mental health diagnoses are dealt a pretty tough deck of cards, and there simply aren’t enough resources for these kids,” Angie said. “PATH does everything it can, but there’s always a need for more, and there are so many ways people can get involved and help.” Supporting PATH—whether at this year’s RDO Caters Taters, by learning about involvement opportunities, or by simply spreading the word—means supporting the community, helping to foster stable families and children seeking a successful road to adulthood. ----------- Join us for RDO Caters Taters for Charity, Tuesday, November 26 from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. at the Delta Hotels by Marriott Fargo. 100% of proceeds benefit PATH ND. See event photos and special updates by following RDO Caters Taters on Facebook and Instagram .
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