Kathy Jenkins, Executive Director of New Directions, says putting panhandlers in touch with potentially life-changing resources is better than simply doling out a few dollars.
“My thought is that truly helping people is an issue of giving them a hand up and not a hand out, and that’s what we do everyday at New Directions, is try to help them find a new direction in life,” she said.
New Directions oversees the operation of four shelters in the Myrtle Beach area. Calling a local help line can help you find them or other resources, Jenkins said.
She said giving out the 2-1-1 number to United Way or helping them get in touch with New Directions can potentially make a big difference. The United Way organization, which has an area call center, fields all sorts of needs, making it a one-stop shop, pairing people with a range of resources from help with transportation to finances and more.
“It is inclusive of any kind of resource that’s available to them, for who are in need, who are homeless. Who are at risk of being homeless. Who are in poverty and living paycheck to paycheck, (calling) 211 will help direct them to the right resources in the whole community,” Jenkins said.
She says telling someone about 211 or that they can get help through New Directions can set them up with the tools that can make a difference for them.
“There are so many organizations in this community that want to help people get back on their feet, they want to help people get the resources that they need, so it’s just a matter of directing people who might not know what resources are available,” she said.
She said finding the basic necessities is a struggle to some, and those resources are available in the community.
“I think it’s most important for people to know there is food and shelter in the community and New Directions provides both,” she said. Shelters for men, women, families and women and children are available through New Directions, she said.
Capt. Joey Crosby, spokesman with Myrtle Beach police, said people always have the option to call police if they’re approached by a panhandler. He also recommended that people do their research and make sure charities they give to are reputable, as they are doing their holiday shopping and giving this season.