Dorothy Taylor moved to the beach in the '70s with her single mother and grandmother and says she knows first-hand the importance of growing up under the wing of a strong parental figure and role model.
That may be why she now looks out for those who need a lift from the streets into a warm, loving home, too, as her nominator writes, "Dorothy has one of the biggest hearts I know. She has single-handedly helped down-on-their-luck people find their way back home, continued to keep in touch with them and pray for/encourage them ... Hard on those who need it, but will hug them or let them know she cares before she leaves. When you leave her, you're smiling."
Q: Why is it you feel compelled to help those who are down on their luck? Do you hear about them through volunteering at Street Reach?
A: In addition to Street Reach, I've worked with Parents Anonymous and Teens at Risk, so one of these charities will bring someone in need to me. I guess it's kind of like being a homeless advocate. I got into it because I always wondered what it was like to go through what they go through. It's important to be proactive. You can drive by all day on Kings Highway and see the homeless and say, 'Wow, look at that,' but it's another thing to be an advocate.
Three months ago, we helped a homeless couple with a 13-month-old baby and the mother was pregnant with another baby. They were living in a tent in the woods by 82nd Parkway; I found out about them through someone else at Christ United Methodist Church. We put them in a hotel and the church bought them a bus ticket back to Massachusetts - because there was nothing more important than the well-being of that child.
Q: What have you learned through what you do with the homeless and those in need?
A: I think the entitlement issue is very hard sometimes. I feel sometimes they don't think they're entitled to live a different life. Sometimes when you're so broken down, you don't feel entitled.
And what I've learned is that a lot of them came from that environment originally; they've had to take care of their parents when they were children. Street Reach is the only homeless shelter in Horry County and we currently have about 130 a night. It's one thing to have the weather we have now, but when it gets cold, it's a different story.
A friend of mine just took in a girl from Haiti who was going blind and he asked her what she missed most about her sight and she said looking at people's faces. That story to me was like a message to me from God saying to slow down and look at people's faces. And I do more often now at Street Reach ... Their eyes are sometimes so sad.
Q: Anything you like to do in your free time?
A: When I do have downtime, I garden. I'm a member at Brookgreen Gardens and I absolutely love that place.
Q: What does it mean to you, in your own words, to be an exceptional woman?
A: I don't think of myself as exceptional. But I thank God for the gifts he's given me. My job is to faithfully respond to God's word and to bring awareness to the mission.