Pathways for Change grew from the desire of people who dared to offer new ways of life to others caught up in drugs and crimes.

It started in 2003 when Connie Bookman, L.C.S.W., developed a program offering a faith-based curriculum and psychotherapy to female inmates at the Escambia County Jail.

Bookman, executive director of the Christian Counseling Center of Baptist Hospital, teamed with Dr. Janice Crenwshaw, director of diversity at Baptist Hospital. They recruited fifty local female professionals who agreed to “adopt” the Pathways For Change participants for one year. Training and support meetings were scheduled bi-weekly. But even with the support of therapy and mentors, the released inmates soon returned to their “old way of living.”

Renewed Effort

Bookman and Peg Nickelsen, a masters-level intern, traveled to Ohio to study a successful "Therapeutic Community" at the Marysville Reformatory for Women, a maximum-security prison.

They returned to Pensacola and approached the Escambia County jail's director, Dennis Williams. He agreed to allow a “Therapeutic Community,” an intensive addictions treatment program housed in its own dorm, away from the general jail population. In February of 2005, Bookman and a team of clinical staff and interns established a daily psycho-educational curriculum and psychotherapeutic milieu for women in the jail's Central Booking and Detention Center.


Educators played key roles in the new program, providing perspectives from criminal justice, legal studies and social work.

Dr. Julie Kunselman and Dr. Diane Scott, both from the University of West Florida, helped design not only a case management plan but also a database to capture the information needed for outcome studies. UWF students carried out the case management plan and in-put data to monitor recidivism.


Before obtaining jobs, PFC participants needed educational and vocational skills. That's when we turned to LaDon Boyd, Federal Projects Specialist for the Escambia County School District; Ed LeBrun, Executive Director of Work Force ESCAROSA; and Carolyn Formsma, Department Head of Adult Basic Education for Pensacola State College. They provided testing and tutoring, coaching PFC participants to strive for jobs that would not only supply a paycheck but fulfill a purpose. Today, PFC grads are working as plumbers, electricians, gardeners and landscapers, cooks and business administrators, among other vocations.

Men’s Residential Treatment

In November 2005, PFC's Therapeutic Community began accepting males into the 18-month program. Jack O’Brien was hired as Program Manager to implement the six-phase program of intensive class work and transition back to the community. To better meet the needs of men and women in transition, PFC moved to the County Work Release Center in June 2006. (Because the women had to be housed in general population, and thus mingle with old friends who were not in treatment, PFC chose to close the women’s program until funding is secured for a separate facility.)

Aftercare Program

In 2012 PFC developed an Aftercare Program for our graduates of the Men's Residential Treatement program and added the clients of the Clinton Cox Residence once it had opened. Substance abuse is complex and takes time to overcome. Studies show that the longer the clients are engaged with treatment the greater chances of success. Upon graduating from Men's Residential Treatment the men work out an aftercare plan with the staff. This could include 90 meetings in 90 days, counseling, employment  and school goals and also housing. The men meet together once a week at the Clinton Cox Residence with a staff member to discuss the challenges they are facing in the real world. 

Transitions Program

In January of 2014 Pathways for Change's in partnership with Community Enterprise Investments opened the Clinton Cox Residence a sober home that assists people in transition from treatment for drug and alcohol problems or coming out of prison, back into society. By providing long-term stable housing and personalized, one-on-one counseling, the program helps ensure the success rate for participants, helps keep them off the streets and out of jail and provides work programs. The 12 room, state-of-the-art Clinton Cox Residence is a nurturing environment suited to keep program members away from the streets while they’re transitioning back as productive members of the Pensacola community.

The Family Center

In 2012 Pathways For Change opened The Family Center. Pensacola’s anti poverty program serving under privileged neighborhoods of those living at or below the property level. The Family Center is in walking distance from key underserved neighborhoods and the program provides the tutoring, counseling, training and other life skills. The nonprofit rebuilds hope and maintains the dignity of program attendees who are working to get their GED or train for other employment opportunities. The Family Center has had a far-reaching, positive impact on residents living in Escambia County.

The Recovery Village at Morris Court

In 2012, five duplex units at Morris Court, a low-income housing site in Pensacola, will be renovated, thanks to funding from Neighborhood Enterprise Foundation Inc. and a partnership with Area Housing. The PFC team wanted to start providing services at Morris Court before our graduates moved in, so we already had a sensational Saturday event with music, horseback riding, food and fun.

University of West Florida students created a survey and interviewed Morris Court residents to see what they wanted and needed in their community and what the PFC provide at the nearby Family Center. One encouraging discovery: the residents wanted their children to benefit from our relationship.

Pat Southerland, PFC Board Officer, and volunteer Angela Mack created a Summer Camp curriculum that included arts and crafts, outside fun activity, boy scouts and girl scouts and lots of snacks. Breakfast and lunch were provided and a host of volunteers helped this program succeed. 

This program no longer in operation laid the ground work for the Clinton Cox Residence and also our Pathways To Success Summer Program.