Container home will expand veterans center services

By The Editorial Board

The Veterans Welcome Home & Resource Center in Little River soon will have an additional residence for military veterans making the transition to civilian life: a tiny home made from a shipping container.

The container home – to be named The Rotary House – will be a progressive house, or a stepping stone, “from here, in Hutton House, to the container house,” said board member Ron Wilson.

The center on Highway 57 South includes Hutton House, which provides housing for veterans actively seeking jobs or enrolled in education or training programs.

The center received the container home as a donation after the Veterans Housing Development project disbanded. The former model home was free, but the center estimates expenses of $15,000 to $20,000 to make it a viable residence. The costs include a foundation, water and sewer connections and other utilities.

Accepting the container home “was a big decision by the board to make an investment in veterans,” said center director Doug Wing.

Paula Yanis, president of the Rotary Club of Little River, asked the center’s founder and former director Kris Tourtellotte what the center needed and, “He told me about the container home.” Yanis and the Rotary Club board secured a $2,600 Rotary District 7770 matching grant for completing the container home. The club will raise an additional $2,600.

Center board member Amy Johnston noted that the Rotary Club has supported the center from its start in 2009; chairman Keith Bacon said it was a unanimous vote of the board to name the container home The Rotary House ... “as soon as the check clears.”

Wilson met Tuesday with Horry County building and zoning officials on details of completing utility connections. Early Tuesday, Derek Carney, owner of All Phase Contracting, marked off the location of 10 footings and pilings. When they are completed, a crane will lift the container onto its foundation. Doug Wing, the center’s volunteer director, estimated 60 days for having it ready for occupancy.

Johnston, who serves as office manager as well as a board member, noted the center’s help to veterans totals $34,119 through August in 2017 – compared to $500 for first year. The center operated in a rented house off U.S. 17 in Little River until 2014, when it moved to the .92-acre site on Highway 57, about a mile south of S.C. 9. The center paid the mortgage loan on the property with a large gift from a family.

From its beginning, the center has had widespread community support, including veterans organizations, civic groups such as Rotary, and others.

“By far, our largest benefactor is The Corvette Club of Myrtle Beach,” Wing said.

Veterans seeking emergency funds to pay a utility bill, for example, don’t have to wait.

“We respond right now,” Bacon said.

How to help

The Veterans Welcome Home & Resource Center accepts financial contributions for its ongoing operations or toward making The Rotary House ready for occupancy. Mail checks to:

421 Hwy 57 South

Little River, SC 29566

Center hours

The center hours are 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday - Friday

Phone | 843-427-4568

Doug Wing, North Myrtle Beach, is the center’s volunteer director. Board of directors members include Chairman Keith Bacon, Little River; John Hymes, Longs; Amy Johnston, North Myrtle Beach; Donna King, Myrtle Beach; Ron Wilson, Little River.