The Rev. William Gause has been working toward a vision for years — a vision of community unity, of peace in Racepath and Myrtle Beach and of a new center that will help him better serve his hometown.
But even though he and his board of directors at Phoenix Renaissance have ideas for the new center, it may be several months away from becoming a reality. And it may not be, at first, the big venue they had envisioned.
“I believe in using what you’ve got until you can do better,” Gause said, in the small trailer, with sinking floors and the occasional electrical issues, that has served as the Horry County Racepath Community Center for years.
The property on which the center currently operates is leased to the county by a family, who wants to sell the land for $35,000, he said. But the land offers little room for expansion and Gause says they have wanted a place big enough for the large crowds of children they serve, which can climb as high as 60 in the summer.
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The bigger parcel he and his board would love to have is under a firm sale price of $250,000. Without the funds to cover that, Gause says they are considering other options, one of those may include staying put for now and building a two-story center.
“The roadblocks have not stopped us,” he said.
“You can overcome anything, if you put your mind to it. But most importantly, you’ve got to carry God with you,” Gause said, repeating a statement he often shares with the center’s kids.
The Horry County-provided center offers after-school care and summer camps five days a week. The summer program, which begins Monday and runs until school starts, is open to all kids (4 to 12 years old) in the community. Many of the youth come from low-income families that can’t afford childcare.
Summer camps offer the children two hot meals, snacks, educational activities and field trips. Parents are charged $25 a week for a child to attend the camps, but the activities are mostly funded by donations, Gause said.
The center operates on donations in a pocket of county land surrounded by the city of Myrtle Beach just off U.S. 501 and Robert Grissom Parkway. It sits in a neighborhood that has been marred by violence and drugs.
“We hear so much about the drugs and so much about different types of crimes, but … I have observed children down through the years. The average one of my children that I call my children,” Gause said, have gone on to better things and are “doing well.”
“I want to be able to see the community come together,” he said. “The Bible says where there’s unity, there’s strength.”
Gause says he feels his community coming together, but that new center — the one big enough for all of the children he cares for, where seniors can come for special programs and autistic kids can come for care — may not happen anytime soon.
Gause doesn’t give up, though.
“We’ve got to get together with strong minds … with not just words, but action,” he said. “With the help of God, we’re going to get there.”
Tax-deductible donations can be made to Phoenix Renaissance Inc., 286 Sunset Dr., Myrtle Beach, SC 29577.
For more information, visit www.phoenixrenaissance.org or call Gause at 843-283-3864.