The lack of a ramp for veterans using wheelchairs and walkers had been a concern of Dana Black, founder and director of the North Strand Housing Shelter. Now, thanks to volunteers from Living Water Baptist Church and a grant from American Legion Auxiliary Post 186, residents of the veterans center at the shelter no longer negotiate three steps.
“We’ve been waiting a long time ... four or five years ... for the ramp. This was about having the money and getting the help to build it. It just never worked out before now,” Black said.
Four military veterans reside in the older of the two buildings at the shelter site on S.C. 9 in Longs. The smaller building was the shelter when it opened in December 2010. After a new, larger shelter opened two years ago, the original building was remodeled to make very affordable housing for up to five veterans.
Currently, four veterans reside in the center and one has lived there close to two years.
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“This is their home,” Black said.
The ramp was constructed Sept. 9 as part of the shelter’s “National Day of Service and Remembrance Project.”
S.C. Sen. Greg Hembree of Little River opened the formal ceremony, “reminding us that we bond together in times of need,” Black said.
The ramp builders started early and completed the project in the afternoon. The Rotary Club of Little River placed a sign in the new children’s playground, largely built with a Rotary District 7770 matching grant.
As a member of the American Legion Auxiliary, Black learned about a potential $1,000 grant for ramp lumber and other material. When the grant was approved, a volunteer at the shelter told Black about the Men’s Ministry at Living Water Baptist Church. Trustee Tim Carver is director of the ministry which has built several ramps.
“It was like it was meant to be,” Black said.
The shelter continues to operate at near its capacity of 28 beds. On Tuesday, shelter guests included 14 children, infants to 14 years old, perhaps the highest number of underage children at one time at the shelter, although the number was expected to fall by week’s end. The shelter is providing a bus ticket home to a mother and two children; and a couple with an infant is moving on. For that family, a grant from an individual “to meet immediate needs” will provide a tank of gasoline. Money from the gift is “a real blessing,” Black said.
To help shelter guests turn around their lives, Black and her husband, Michael Bloch, are starting a class on communications, designed to assist guests better understand “how people look at things” – employers, for example, may have expectations that differ from the way people in poverty view a job.
Another communications goal is “learning how to speak in an adult voice – a voice where people will listen.”
“We depend on volunteers,” which has been the case since the shelter started. Volunteers (from their homes) answer phone calls to the shelter, serve in the office and drive vans. Guests typically are picked up at 4:30 p.m. at Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church in North Myrtle Beach, taken to a meal, depending on the day of the week, and then to the shelter. On Tuesdays, shelter guests have dinner at Hope’s Kitchen, a ministry at Ocean Drive Presbyterian Church; Thursdays at the Catholic church; and Fridays at the Little River United Methodist Church’s Shepherd’s Table.
Other evening meals are provided by volunteers at the shelter. Chris’ Pizza on S.C. 9 provides pizza the first Monday of each month, an example of how businesses can help.
From the start in 2010, the shelter has had widespread community support from businesses, churches, individuals and service groups that long recognized the need for a shelter serving North Myrtle Beach and neighboring communities. “We are so blessed to live in such a giving community.”
Van drivers needed
North Strand Housing Shelter needs volunteers, particularly van drivers. A regular S.C. drivers license and a good record is required, for approximately an hour and a half of service a week, depending on the day.
Phone | 843-756-9488
Online | www.northstrandhousingshelter.org
Mail | P.O. Box 529, North Myrtle Beach, SC 29597
What | Hawaiian luau fundraiser for North Strand Housing Shelter, including entertainment and a silent auction.
When | Sept. 28, 6:30 p.m.
Where | WaterScapes at Marina Inn, Myrtle Beach
Ticket Information | Phone NSHS board member Pamela Schorr, 843-997-4162
$55 per person, $100 per couple