A homeless shelter serving North Myrtle Beach, Little River and Longs is moving closer to reality; organizers have a closing date on the property on S.C. 9 and will have four volunteer work days in November. The much-needed facility is expected to open "sometime before Christmas, definitely before the first freeze," according to founder Dana Black.
Volunteers are being recruited for the four Saturdays in November to do pressure washing, painting and overall cleaning at the building which will be the North Strand Housing Shelter, 2335 S.C. 9 W. in Longs. The building formerly was a shelter for battered women and is well-suited for a homeless shelter accommodating up to 16 men, women and children. Black says the structure is sound but in need of "nonstructural renovations."
Black and her husband, Michael Bolch, will close on the property on Oct. 25. "We have been blessed," Black says, with financial support from four fundraisers, donations of materials and Horry County Council rezoning going smoothly. "No one objected through a plan commission and three County Council meetings," Black says. "People have volunteered with materials," including a hot water heater and a tankless hot water system. "We're still in need of materials," including paint, door locks and big-ticket items such as heating and air conditioning units.
North Strand Housing Shelter will operate under Worldview Ministry International, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. Black and her husband became interested in providing shelter for the homeless after meeting Ron Causey, who is on the "care team" at Barefoot Church, the community-active, nondenominational congregation in North Myrtle Beach. "I was already helping the homeless [with transportation to medical appointments and so forth], and I really wanted to find a shelter," Causey says. "It takes more ... than you think." He will be the on-site director of the new shelter and is eager to start the renovation. "The more [volunteers] we have, the easier it will be. We've got a ton of work to do."
Fundraisers such as pasta dinners and barbecues have provided money for a down payment on the property and closing costs. Two more fundraisers are tentatively scheduled. Sign-up sheets for the work days will be available at the Endless Summer Festival on Main Street in North Myrtle Beach on Oct. 30.
"Nine churches so far have said they'll help staff it," Black says of the shelter's operation. The shelter's location, well away from the population centers of North Myrtle Beach and Little River, will require transportation from pickup points. "We're looking for a van," Black says. With all the community involvement and number of concerned people who know the need for a shelter, we imagine transportation will fall into place.
When Black started talking to groups about the need for a shelter, she recalls, "People looked at me like I had a third eye, but it's all come together."