MYRTLE BEACH — A local nonprofit organization is inviting Myrtle Beach residents to enjoy food, music and celebrate community Saturday during an event that organizers hope will increase awareness about homelessness in the area.
Street Reach will hold a community feast celebration Saturday at its facility on Osceola as a way to thank supporters, educate the community on what they do and raise a little money.
Terry Martin said he has worked with Street Reach for a few years in a variety of ways, this year volunteering his sound services on Saturday through Soul’d Out Ministries, which provides audio to Christian events at no cost. He said it’s important as a Christian to help homeless people and others who are less fortunate.
“As a society we have a tendency not to look at in that direction. The Christian way is to look at these people and help them find a way out,” Martin said. “Part of our duty as a citizen is to help these people – whether Christian or not. It’s the human thing to do.”
Street Reach is working to let the public know that they’re more than just a shelter, resource and development manager Farrah Dickerson said.
“We want to raise awareness about who we are and about homelessness. We’re not just a shelter – we’re multifaceted,” she said.
Since 1998, the organization has worked with homeless people and those in need, moving into its current location in 2008 – and now they’re expanding.
“We’re doing a 10,000-square foot expansion upstairs … helping more [more than 100 additional] people than we help now,” Dickerson said. She said the facility mostly operates at capacity, serving about 200 people a day.
“We’ll be able to help so many more people and bring them from the woods. That helps everyone – the city, the hotels the residents and the people themselves,” she said.
A two-year endeavor, Dickerson said she hopes they complete work on the expansion in the next two months. The additional space would provide classrooms, a computer lab, bathrooms with showers, a common area for Bible study and hopefully a computer lab, she said.
“I really want us to be able to have a computer lab that can be used for distance learning classes [or for people] to get their GEDs,” she said. “That’s what I envision.”
Street Reach has three programs through which it helps people – emergency overnight accommodations, a recovery program for those with addictions and work-stay for the working poor.
This summer the organization launched Street Reach Enterprises, a for-profit umbrella company that employs the people in the various programs through contracts with places including local hotels even the city’s parks.
In September, the Myrtle Beach City Council approved a $20,000 grant that will be used to pay wages to Street Reach’s workers that clean and landscape Bathsheba Bowens and Futrell parks.
Livingston said the transitional back-to-work program helps participants feel like contributing members of society and helps with recovery.
“I’ve seen the changes that happen,” she said.
Martin, who also serves as director of the Royal Ambassadors missions program at Ocean View Baptist Church, said some of the first- through fifth-graders will be helping out on Saturday, passing out some of the 2,600 bottles of water they collected and donated for the feast.
“It’s an opportunity for our kids to see a mission in action and see what it’s all about,” he said.
Dickerson said the celebration also will feature raffles, T-shirt sales and opportunities for donations.
“I did the math the other day and $150 can pay for one person to go through our recovery program,” Dickerson said, saying that would cover the costs for one month. “Whether it’s $10 or $10,000, we’re so grateful to anyone who decides to donate.”
The Street Reach Community Feast will take place from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday at the facility, 1005 Osceola St. For information call 455-3705.
Contact MAYA T. PRABHU at 444-1722 or follow her at Twitter.com/TSN_MPrabhu.