End Homelessness

A Conversation with the New President of Urban Pathways' Board of Directors, Steven Sheppard DiCesare

President of Urban Pathways’ Board of Directors, Steven “Shep” DiCesare.

President of Urban Pathways’ Board of Directors, Steven “Shep” DiCesare.

Urban Pathways’ Communications Staff recently sat down with our new President of the Board of Directors, Steven Sheppard DiCesare. Get to know more about “Shep” and why he feels such a strong connection to the mission of Urban Pathways.

1. Why did you decide to join Urban Pathways’ Board of Directors?

I joined the Board through Robin Hood. I was looking to become part of a dynamic, mission-focused non-profit that truly served New York City’s neediest population. Robin Hood referred me to Urban Pathways and I knew I wanted to become involved immediately!

2. What interests you most about the work that we do at Urban Pathways?

Urban Pathways’ employees have a non-stop client focus. Our staff goes above and beyond for our clients again and again.

Urban Pathways’ Street Outreach Team engaging a homeless individual.

Urban Pathways’ Street Outreach Team engaging a homeless individual.

3. What about Urban Pathways’ mission really speaks to you?

Our mission is a simple one: take our homeless clients, no matter where they came from, no matter what their current situation, and meet them where they are. Offer them a chance to enter stable, supportive housing and start down a journey of independence and dignity. This is an extremely powerful message and one that infuses everything that we do, from the Board of Directors to the most recent staff hire.

4. How long have you been on the Board of Directors?

I joined the Board in 2009. I have previously served as Board Secretary, Board Vice-President, and now I serve as President.


Urban Pathways’ President Emeritus Keith Berger (L) and Board President Steven “Shep” DiCesare.

Urban Pathways’ President Emeritus Keith Berger (L) and Board President Steven “Shep” DiCesare.

5. How do you think your experience as a Director prepared you for your new role as President?

Understanding how the organization worked, working closely with Fred Shack and other management, and taking on various leadership roles has made my transition a smooth one.

6. What are your primary goals as the new Board President?

I’d like to grow Urban Pathways’ profile through social media and explore new avenues of fundraising. The work our staff does is amazing and the more people that know about it, the more will support our work. Being featured on CNN this summer was no fluke! Working with Fred Shack, I also want to ensure that our employees are acknowledged and supported in many ways.


7. On which other Board committees do you serve?

I serve on the Executive Committee (which consists of the President, Vice-President, Secretary, and Treasurer), the Personnel Compensation Committee, and the Nominating Committee.


8. What are the characteristics of a great board member?

Dedication to Urban Pathway’s mission - for a Board member, this primarily manifests itself in two ways: participating in Board meetings and committee meetings, and actively fundraising for the organization. In addition, a great Board member needs to be constantly learning about all facets of the organization, from its fiscal health, to HR, to operations, to our program offerings. You never know where the next challenge or opportunity may arise, so having that broad knowledge is invaluable.

Career Day event with Urban Pathways’ clients and volunteers from Goldman Sachs including Board Member Adam Heft.

Career Day event with Urban Pathways’ clients and volunteers from Goldman Sachs including Board Member Adam Heft.

9. Is there anything that you would like to say specifically to Urban Pathways’ staff?

To Urban Pathways’ staff-- Thank You! You are on the front line every day making the lives of homeless and formerly homeless individuals better. Without you, fighting for our clients every day, we would not be able effect the change that we have. Know that you are appreciated and commended by myself and the entire Board of Directors.

About Urban Pathways
Urban Pathways is a New York City-based, nonprofit organization that provides housing and support to homeless and at-risk adults throughout the Metropolitan area. Urban Pathways serves more than 2,500 homeless individuals a year and provides transitional, extended stay, and permanent housing to chronically homeless individuals. 
www.urbanpathways.org. Donate

Client Success Story Update: Johnathan Gilmore

Johnathan had a tough childhood.

At age 15, his mother was killed in a car accident, 2 days before Christmas.

After his older sister took him in, Johnathan had behavioral problems in school that led to him dropping out in the 10th grade and enrolling in Job Corps.

While in Job Corps, Johnathan learned vocational and custodial skills, but he began using heroin and became a functional addict. His addiction led to him being part of an armed robbery, for which he served 6 years in jail.

While in prison, Johnathan gained more custodial experience and completed certifications in Building Super and Building and Custodial Maintenance.

Upon his release, he got married and had children. Unfortunately, his heroin addiction resurfaced and eventually led to his divorce.

After his divorce, Johnathan couch-surfed with friends and family and slept in shelters for 6 years while frequenting methadone clinics to manage his heroin addiction.

Johnathan got involved with advocacy while in the shelter system which allowed him to become a client representative with Volunteers of America. That opportunity, and Johnathan’s need for housing, led to him being referred to Urban Pathways.

In 2015, Johnathan was one of the first clients to be placed at Urban Pathways’ newly renovated Cluster House on the Upper West Side.

In 2016, he joined the UPwards Employment Program, graduated, and has been working in maintenance at Urban Pathways for over 2 years.

This summer, Johnathan was part of the Moving On Initiative which allowed him to move from Cluster House to his own apartment.

Johnathan is doing great, settling in and continuing to work as much as he can. He just purchased a kitchen set, and bedroom furniture.

I have no challenges, only joys. I love my new apartment. I just bought a new bed set, kitchen set, and microwave. I work as much as I can to stay busy and it keeps me focused and on the right track.” – Johnathan Gilmore

About Urban Pathways
Urban Pathways is a New York City-based, nonprofit organization that provides housing and support to homeless and at-risk adults throughout the Metropolitan area. Urban Pathways serves more than 2,500 homeless individuals a year and provides transitional, extended stay, and permanent housing to chronically homeless individuals. 
www.urbanpathways.org. Donate

Urban Pathways Opens Independent Housing Named After Former Board Member Howard Amron

Howard Amron's widow, Joan Amron cuts the ribbon for the Howard Amron House with Council Ben Kallos, Urban Pathways CEO Fred Shack, family and board members looking on.  

Howard Amron's widow, Joan Amron cuts the ribbon for the Howard Amron House with Council Ben Kallos, Urban Pathways CEO Fred Shack, family and board members looking on.  

On Tuesday, May 22, 2018, Urban Pathways hosted an open house in celebration of their newly constructed residence, the Howard Amron House on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

The 11-unit building, and the 11th supportive housing facility operated by Urban Pathways, will be home to formerly homeless individuals living at the highest level of independence. The Howard Amron House will offer tenants supportive services including case management, as well as individualized services to maximize independence, and wellness self-management.

Extell Development Company is proud to have developed the property for Urban Pathways. The 7-story building is comprised of 100% permanently affordable supportive housing units. All 11 apartments are private and come fully furnished complete with full kitchens, cookware and tableware, and bed and bath linens.

Frederick Shack, Chief Executive Officer of Urban Pathways expressed “These units were created for formerly homeless individuals who no longer need onsite services and who have demonstrated their ability to live independently. Howard Amron’s legacy of being an advocate for those less fortunate is embodied in the building that now holds his name.”

Named in memory of former Board of Directors Member and Officer Howard C. Amron for his nearly 20 years of service to Urban Pathways; President Emeritus, and friend, Gerry Blume reflected, “I am honored to be here to remember Howard, and I know that, given the kind of man he was, he would say that there is no better way to acknowledge him than to do so by helping others.”

Urban Pathways has identified all tenants and expects the Howard Amron House to be fully occupied by the end of June 2018. If you are interested in furnishing an apartment for a tenant, click here

About Urban Pathways
Urban Pathways is a New York City-based, nonprofit organization that provides housing and support to homeless and at-risk adults throughout the New York Metropolitan area.  Urban Pathways serves more than 2,500 homeless individuals a year and provides transitional, extended stay and permanent housing to chronically homeless individuals. www.urbanpathways.org. Donate

BLOG UPDATE: Former Client John Burnett becomes Certified Peer Specialist!

Former client John Burnett is now a Certified Peer Specialist at The Bridge

Former client John Burnett is now a Certified Peer Specialist at The Bridge

Born in Augusta, Georgia and raised in the Bronx, John is the oldest of eight children.

After high school, John held various jobs including: caterer, grounds keeper and nursing assistant,  among others. These jobs took John through East Coast states like Maryland, South Carolina, and Georgia during the 80s and 90s. He settled in New York in the early 2000s.

While living in Hunt’s Point, John’s building was condemned without warning following the landlord being convicted of drug charges.

John was never able to retrieve his belongings and was homeless for the next two years.

During this time John couch-surfed with family while falling into a deeper depression that he had been able to manage before becoming homeless. As his depression worsened, John’s drinking and drug use increased. Over the next two years, John migrated back through various East Coast states staying with family and friends. 

In 2013 John entered a Bronx Works program and stayed there for two years fighting depression and drug and alcohol addiction until his supervisor suggested detox.

In 2015 John entered detox, and says those next 31 days were the best of his life. They led to him quitting drugs and alcohol for good.

After finishing detox, John came to Urban Pathways. During that time he enrolled in and graduated from the six-month Howie The Harp peer advocate program. John continued to be drug and alcohol free, living at an Urban Pathways' supportive housing residence, Cluster House on the Upper West Side. At that time, John began interning to become a Certified Peer Specialist at The Bridge: a treatment center for individuals recovering from alcohol and drug abuse; as well as mental illness.

John moved into his own condo in Parkchester in 2018 as part of Urban Pathways’ Moving On Initiative.

UPDATE: August 2019
John Burnett is now a Certified Peer Specialist at The Bridge, he completed his internship in April of 2018. John now facilitates weekly groups focusing on treatment, maintaining sobriety, and rehabilitation. Individuals attending John’s groups have been formerly incarcerated, diagnosed with a mental illness or are struggling with drug and/or alcohol abuse.

I love coming to work everyday, I have lived the life that a lot of the group participants have lived. I know how hard it is to maintain sobriety and I know what it’s like to feel like you are not being heard. Facilitating these groups is me giving back, I wouldn’t be here now if it weren’t for Urban Pathways.

John continues to live in his condo in Parkchester, and in his spare time loves to cook and go for walks in his neighborhood.

About Urban Pathways
Urban Pathways is a New York City-based, nonprofit organization that provides housing and support to homeless and at-risk adults throughout the New York Metropolitan area.  Urban Pathways serves more than 3,700 at-risk and homeless individuals a year and provides transitional, extended stay and permanent housing to chronically homeless individuals. www.urbanpathways.org. Donate