Timing often is a key to success and that well may be the case with the Prosperity Center in Myrtle Beach that puts a clear, cooperative effort on literacy, learning and employment – and beyond.
Every area food pantry reports that requests for help continue to grow, even as the overall economy gradually improves. Without question, steady jobs enable people to feed their families. Granted, many of the area’s projected new jobs pay less than in other parts of the United States – lower pay frankly is one of the attractions for businesses to locate here. The overarching point is that the Grand Strand needs more jobs.
The Prosperity Center, operating in the Myrtle Beach Family Learning Center at 3101 Oak St. and formally dedicated the other day, is a consortium of Horry County Schools, the Horry Council Literacy Council, Palmetto Goodwill and the United Way of Horry County.
Goodwill has provided a Job Links Center that provides help in job searching, resume writing and training. Job Links Centers in five of Goodwill’s six area stores in 2013 assisted 327 people into new jobs, according to Rick Shelley, vice president of mission services for Palmetto Goodwill which includes 18 S.C. counties. Overall, Job Links served over 9,000 Horry County residents in 2013.
As one would expect, the Prosperity Center began slowly, “but it is amazing that the parking lot is filled’’ at mid-day and three-quarters filled in the afternoon, Shelley says. “Already, the numbers are increasing. I think it’s a matter of people learning about the Prosperity Center.’’
At the recent formal opening ceremony, Shelley learned from one of the GED teachers that “12 different nationalities are represented in classes.” Head Start and a Boys & Girls Club are also in the Family Learning Center building as well as the preschool assessment offices of Horry County Schools.
“It’s a lot of organizations beyond the four core [entities],’’ says Virginia Simmons, HCS director of adult & community education. “That’s what makes it so strong – this effort by so many community services.’’
She estimated 15 to 20 representatives of service nonprofits have been attending meetings. All of the several representatives are saying, “here is what we do, here is where we can help.’’
The Prosperity Center is about more than help with employment. A parent perhaps is having difficulty with a child and the HCS staff can help evaluate the child. “Many people cannot navigate the system,’’ and the Prosperity Center can direct them to services they need.
Goodwill has a full-time intake specialist, Sherry Stafford, at the Prosperity Center and is in the process of hiring a person to provide financial education. Shelley says several applicants have been screened and five candidates will be interviewed for the part-time position. The financial education person could be in place as soon as the first of March.
Simmons echoed Shelley’s comment that a slow start was anticipated as people learn about the Prosperity Center. Previously, United Way president Olivia Garren and Debera Terpening, executive director of the Literacy Council, noted the need for volunteers in tutoring and other services.
Nationally, Prosperity Centers are an initiative of the United Way, Shelley points out. He and a Goodwill colleague visited a Prosperity Center in Winston-Salem, N.C. and came away with ideas for the Grand Strand and Charleston area.
The Grand Strand center is up and running with employment-related and other services and financial education on the way. Prosperity Center success -- one job, one family, one child at a time -- means better lives for individuals and the greater community. We encourage you to support it.