Civic News

This short film about a Wilmington hotel-turned-shelter is up for a Mid-Atlantic Emmy

"The Pathway Home" follows the origin and first year of the former Sheraton Hotel that became The Hope Center.

A scene from "The Pathway Home."

(Screenshot via YouTube)

The Emmy Awards aren’t over yet.

Regional Emmys are still being awarded, and on Oct. 1, the Mid-Atlantic Emmy Awards will include the nomination of “The Pathway Home.” The short film was produced by New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer and New Castle County Digital Media Manager Kyle Grantham, and directed by Christina Reilly of Delaware-based Short Order Production House.

The documentary film follows the origin and first year of an upscale Riverfront Wilmington hotel that was turned into The Hope Center, for members of the community without homes.

The project began when New Castle County won a bid to purchase the embattled Sheraton Hotel, a massive property that has struggled to stay open since the construction finished in the early ’90s.

County Executive Meyer and his team were cautiously optimistic that the project would be successful in helping homeless Delaware families and individuals, some of whom fell into desperate situations during the COVID-19 shutdowns.

“It was probably about six months before we said, ‘Wow, this is actually going very well,’” Meyer told Technical.ly. “During the pandemic we were hearing about a lot of strategies across the country, many of which were not worth doing, and we felt like, here’s a model that’s working. The one thing we’re not doing is we’re not communicating it very well to people within Delaware or outside Delaware, so we came up with the idea of doing a documentary.”

Reilly, Short Order’s senior producer, directed a team to start the production as the center opened its doors.

“Our first filming day was the first day that the center was receiving residents,” she said. “So it was exciting to be there. It was a big deal and it was also so obviously such a challenge. A lot of what I loved about the project instantly was that we were watching them figure it out in real time. We were there for a year, seeing the beginning of people putting their lives on a different track.”

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Some of those early residents were shown transitioning to homes of their own, and in the months since the film was released, there have been more stories of transition. One of the residents interviewed, Robert, moved into his own apartment a few weeks ago.

“Robert was chronically homeless, and we interviewed him and he’s saying how thankful he is, which is great, but he still didn’t have a home,” Meyer said. “And now he’s moved out of the Hope Center and he’s doing great.”

Even the sad stories had happier endings than they would have without Hope House. One resident who was featured in the film, Cheryl, passed away shortly after the production wrapped.

“She died with her family,” Meyer said. “She never would have died with her family.”

The Mid-Atlantic Emmys will be presented Saturday, Oct. 1, at the Loews Philadelphia Hotel.

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