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Racepath coalition finds land for new center, accepting donations

Racepath coalition seeking funds for new center

The Horry County Racepath Community Center has outgrown its current location in a single-wide mobile home on Racepath Street. The center's board of directors have found land for the new center.
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The Horry County Racepath Community Center has outgrown its current location in a single-wide mobile home on Racepath Street. The center's board of directors have found land for the new center.

Photographs of smiling teens are pinned to a bulletin board above a desk, which takes up half of the Rev. William Gause’s small office in the Horry County Racepath Community Center – a singlewide mobile home with sinking floors and failing lights.

The teens were once kids who came through the center’s summer camps, one of two programs the community offers to save kids from the violence in the streets outside its door. Both teens were killed. One was shot when she tried to stop a fight. The other died after swallowing drugs to avoid charges from the police.

“People are looking at this community as a drug area, which it is, but I’m going to try to save as many of these young kids (as I can),” Gause said. “I can’t win them all but I try as hard as I can.”

Several kids, who came through the community’s summer camp, were saved. Some became teachers. Some served in the military. Some went into business.

The tragic cases of the ones who didn’t make it and the scores of the ones who have, serve as constant reminders and motivation for the work Gause set out to do 37 years ago, leading the Racepath neighborhood coalition.

The Horry County-provided center offers after-school care and summer camps five days a week. The programs are open to all kids in the community, many of whom come from low-income families that can’t afford childcare. The summer camps offer the children two hot meals, snacks, educational activities and field trips.

The center operates solely on donations in a pocket of county land surrounded by the city of Myrtle Beach just off U.S. 501 and Grissom Parkway.

The center has been blessed by great supporters, but its meager budget is overshadowed by its needs. For years now Gause has been looking for a larger building to better serve the dozens of kids who come to the center after school and the 50-60 children that attend the summer camps each day.

We’re out to raise ourselves – don’t know if we’re going to do it, but I trust God – $100,000. The number seems big, but my God is bigger than the dollar.

Rev. William Gause, who leads Phoenix Renaissance Inc. and the Horry County Racepath Community Center

The classroom in the current center is barely large enough to fit the 8-foot long tables the summer camp kids have to crowd around for arts and crafts. The projects are often done on the floor to save space.

But hope abounds in a parcel of land a few doors down from the current center, where Gause envisions a new building with more space and room for parking.

Gause said the property owners have agreed to sell them the land, they just need the money.

Gause’s nonprofit organization, Phoenix Renaissance Inc., has started a fundraising campaign and will be holding events in the coming months to add to the $10,000 they have in escrow for the project.

“Our hearts are crying out. We need help,” he said. “We’re out to raise ourselves – don’t know if we’re going to do it, but I trust God – $100,000. The number seems big, but my God is bigger than the dollar. And that’s the way I feel. I’m very determined to raise the money. This big picture is just the beginning.”

Gause envisions the new center will be open to the community every day. He hopes to one day add health classes, computer classes and senior activities to the programs they offer for the kids. Even without the new building, Gause plans to add a food bank at the current location to help families through the week.

There’s so much we want to do, he said. But Gause knows they can do it.

“We’ve got so much to be thankful for,” he said. “We’re looking for a blessed summer.”

Tax-deductible donations can be made to Phoenix Renaissance Inc., 286 Sunset Dr., Myrtle Beach, SC 29577.

For more information, visit www.phoenixrenaissance.org or call Gause at 843-283-3864.

Emily Weaver: 843-444-1722, @TSNEmily

Pig Pickin’ Fundraiser

Phoenix Renaissance Inc. will host a Pig Pickin’ Fundraiser from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, April 9, at 538 Grissom Parkway to raise money for a new Racepath Community Center. Tickets are being sold in advance for $7 each and will be sold for $8 on the day of the event.

Plates include BBQ pork, baked beans, coleslaw, roles, a beverage and a dessert. Delivery is available for those who pre-order for seven or more plates.

For more information or for tickets, call 843-693-1305 or email ryane@keystonecommercial.com.

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