Our Foundation History

Anatole France once said that “until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” Years ago, a dog named Maddy awakened the souls of a group of individuals and inspired them to set forth on a journey of giving back.

When Steve Kinne concluded 23 years of military service he found himself back home in Central New York with a strong desire to give back to his community. He had a vision for an owner trainer program that would teach military members and Veterans with service connected disabilities to train their own service dogs. He knew that it would require a special team to make his program work, and in 2010 began searching for someone who could lead the program he was calling Dogs2Vets. Steve met Melissa Spicer and her sister Melinda Sorrentino, and embarked upon finding a home base for his program. Within two months, they all came together with the idea of creating a place called Clear Path for Veterans. Dogs2Vets found its home, and today Clear Path houses many other programs which serve Veteran and active duty men and women, along with their families and serves as the region’s single point of contact in bridging the connection between service members and their local community.

OUR HOME

The Clear Path facility offers a convenient and centralized destination that’s just 13 miles south east of Syracuse. It sits upon 75 rural acres in the heart of Upstate New York’s farm country, and on a clear day boasts impressive sweeping views of six counties, two lakes and the base of the Adirondack mountains.

The existing building was originally built in 1959 as a family recreation center and was known as a place “with a view, a pool and a golf course”. Melissa and Melinda purchased the property at a time when it had fallen into disrepair, fully recognizing its special qualities and significance within the community. Private funding enabled the restoration of the building to an enhanced rustic natural design. The facility now provides a tranquil setting that facilitates a connection to the beautiful natural surroundings of the overlook; a fitting dedication to those who serve.

THE HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE

Clear Path offers military members and their families a home for wellness, mutual respect and understanding by providing the physical space for gathering and by promoting a welcoming environment. This mission of our organization incorporates a rich history that has grown deep in the land since the founding of our nation.

The Iroquois Confederacy has long been established on the land. Both the Onondaga and Oneida Nations still live in the area. The Confederacy, known also as the Six Nations or the Haughn Shawnee, worked alongside European settlers to create villages and economies and heavily influenced the foundation of our nation’s democracy with many elements of this early community still functioning today. The bond between the Six Nations and the new European settlers was strengthened when the Revolutionary war brought the British army to American soil. The Iroquois excelled in statesmanship and the art of war. They expertly trained their warriors for for battle, and placed equal importance on welcoming them home and providing decompression at the conclusion of conflicts. We have learned so much about caring for and respecting our own warriors and it is Clear Path’s aim to assume the role of supporting the restoration of our soldiers.

The importance of Native warrior culture and traditions are undeniable. Modern day warriors relate to these age old traditions and artistic representation of these ideals are incorporated into the Clear path name and logo. As visitors stand before our beautiful rocky outlook, they are reminded that communities cannot survive without their warriors, nor can the warrior survive without their community.

TODAY

Thanks to the dedication of our cofounders, board of directors, Veteran Advisory Council, staff and volunteers, Clear Path now houses 7 non-clinical programs which together promote education, wellness and empowerment for Veterans, active duty and their families. Through extensive community collaboration, the Clear Path mission has built on the foundation of our cofounders and has created an environment that fosters hope and promotes healthy warriors. We recognize our responsibility to support those who have served, and are proud to do so side by side with devoted and talented community members.

THE SISTERS

Melissa Spicer and Melinda Sorrentino have been partners in business, passion and family for all of their lives and they continue to work together in making an impact on their hometown. They are both lifelong residents of the Central New York Community and share a passion for making a difference.

Melissa and Melinda have been inspired to serve our military men and women in different ways. They sold their family business in 2007 and then embarked on a mission that brought risk and uncertainty. With unwavering support from their husbands, family and community, they were able to succeed and bring a valuable service to our area. In 2011, they were able to secure the property where Clear Path for Veterans sits today.

Melissa and Melinda then purchased the adjacent golf course which they intended to use as a for profit venture. The Ridge and Clear Path work as separate entities who partner together on community events.

Today, Melissa focuses on Clear Path while Melinda focuses on The Ridge, and together they continue to work together with the community in support of military men and women and their families.