Central Florida teacher launches nonprofit aimed at connecting families with community resources

ORLANDO, Fla. — Patricia Bebe says she’s spent more than five years teaching local fourth graders to value education, and themselves.

Bebe was inspired to start a small business she called “Learning in Hues,” where she worked with community centers and non-profit organizations to create opportunities for students.

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“For five years straight, I was working three jobs, tutoring in the morning, during the afternoons, curating my own after school programs, and I saw that what the school and I was doing was not enough,” Bebe said. “We still weren’t getting communities truly involved.”

That led Bebe on another path in life, recently launching a new non-profit called “Paving Pathways.”

“I want to be kind of like a liaison of building pathways,” Bebe explained. “There’s so many other resources that are honestly available to most community members, no matter what economic status you’re in, no matter what race, or gender, ethnicity that you identify with. I want to be a liaison and a pathway to that, and beyond.”

The goal of Paving Pathways is to connect students and families with resources in their communities.

While Bebe recognizes that there are already groups doing similar work, she believes everyone can do better.

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“How can we have so many different nonprofits, different collaborations with the school system, communities, but our data remains the same,” Bebe said. “What makes us different is we’re reaching out to the community and not only hearing their lived experiences, but using their experiences to put them back into organization, and make them a part of the decision-making space.

Bebe’s passion for the community comes from her own lived experience. She says her parents immigrated to Florida from Haiti and didn’t speak much English.

Bebe says she would watch Vanessa Echols on Channel 9 every day and translate the news for them.

She also remembers the times her family needed help.

“I remember having community members that didn’t look like us, but helped us and wanted us to have a great American experience,” Bebe recalled. “I was able to graduate at a great academic college because of that, so if that small influence could help my family out, what would happen if there was a bigger community influence to help so many families who don’t have that access?”

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Paving Pathways is holding its first fundraiser on May 21 at Venture X in downtown Orlando with the goal of raising $10,000 to help local students attend STEM summer camps.

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Joe Kepner

Joe Kepner, WFTV.com

I unloaded the U-Haul in Orlando in 2008, just in time to cover the Magic's run to the 2009 NBA Finals.