Finding His Way Home

A desire to help others has led Dale Pierce down a different road than most.

That road has led him to start a nonprofit organization called Different Roads Home Inc. The organization is a nonprofit group that provides individuals living with chronic illnesses with personalized services. The group serves individuals with HIV/AIDS, cancer and other chronic illnesses.

Pierce, a native of Falconer, is the son of Valerie Pierce and the late Charles Dale Pierce. Pierce moved to North Carolina after graduating from Falconer High School, Jamestown Business College and Jamestown Community College.

Different Roads Home was founded in January in Huntersville, N.C., which is located a few miles outside of Charlotte. The group focuses on filling the gaps in psychosocial support and supportive care for chronic illness sufferers. Pierce said three programs will be the focus for Different Roads Home in its first year. The first focus is the Jeanne White-Ginder Food Pantry, which is under the control of Different Roads Home. The pantry helps people every day with food referrals and emergency food needs, as well as provide nutritional education for their disease state.

White-Ginder is Ryan White’s mother. White was a teenager who contracted AIDS from a blood transfusion, and fought for his right to attend school in Indiana. Since White’s passing in April 1990, his mother helped pass the Ryan White Care Act that Congress created in 1990 to assist urban public hospitals struggling financially to provide care to individuals dying of AIDS.

The second focus is the organization’s support groups that are held every Wednesday night at the Different Roads Home office. Each week the groups change dynamics with the participants.

”People really take away a lot of valuable tools from the group discussions, and the participants are forging strong relationships to help lift each other up,” Pierce said.

The third focus Pierce is most proud of is the Good Road Mentorship Project that will be launched later this year. The project pairs an experienced client, someone who has been living within a particular disease state, with a person who has been newly diagnosed. With so many great medical facilities and medications available for diseased states, the treatment for diseases are now more manageable. However, what Pierce and his staff discovered was that the patient’s emotional and support needs were not always met.

”Almost like a big brother/big sister program, the mentors will be formally trained in program guidelines, but they will craft their personal experiences into something that the mentee can learn from,” he said. ”How do I tell my family? How do I disclose to a spouse or partner? How will the medications affect me with side effects, what should I expect? How did you feel when you told your church family? All these questions and so many more are just examples of what a mentor/mentee team can focus on and help each other. They may need a ride to the doctor or someone to go to movies or shopping with that understands what they are going through.”

Pierce’s road to help others started in the 1990s when he became a volunteer with a variety of charity organizations in the Charlotte area. Being part of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, Pierce saw a need to raise money for local AIDS service organizations like Metrolina AIDS Project and Regional AIDS Interfaith Network. Through the years, Pierce has worked closely with celebrities like Tammy Faye Bakker, Olympic diving champion Greg Louganis, Christian singer and songwriter Janet Paschal, White-Ginder and many local Charlotte television and media personalities. Working with these famous faces and many unsung heroes in the community, Pierce has helped raise millions of dollars for HIV and AIDS research and programming.

FALCONER NATIVE CREDITS COMMUNITY FOR HIS SUCCESS

Pierce credits his background and learning at Falconer High School in the business program and being a local, state and national participant in Future Business Leaders of America as a strong base for his ability to manage effectively. In addition, he said his education at Jamestown Business College has had a huge impact on his growth as a business leader.

”The personal attention, dedication of the staff, and quality of programming at JBC has served me well, and Jamestown should be so proud to have such a center of excellence for education,” he said.

During high school and college years, Pierce held supervisor roles in the dietary department at WCA Hospital and gives credit to his boss, friend and mentor Violet Kianos for teaching him how to effectively manage conflict resolution with employees. Overall, Pierce said that his experience as a Western New York native, and all the tools he gained at various outlets in the community, have been what has set him apart from others through the years in developing leadership roles.

Speaking of Jamestown, Pierce also enlisted the assistance through the years of Jackson Rohm for holding concerts at fundraisers in the Carolinas. ”Jackson has been a great asset to draw new people into our circle of awareness. He now has a whole new legion of fans in Charlotte and beyond that are tremendously loyal,” Pierce said.

Pierce said he would like to thank his partner of seven years, Ed Harrell, for his support. The couple married a few years back in a private ceremony in Charlotte.

”It’s great being married to your best friend and having them support your dreams and aspirations,” he said.

For more information on the Different Roads Home, visit www.differentroadshome.org.