Sea Haven for Youth: Hope in the Face of Adversity

Myrtle Beach is one of the top tourist destinations in the US, but its notoriety and temperate weather also make it a common dead end for homeless or displaced people. Whether local or transient, a study conducted in 2016, the annual Point in Time Count, estimated a total of 759 children under age 18 were experiencing homelessness in South Carolina. Out of that number, Horry County ranked 5th for the largest number of individuals experiencing homelessness.

Many of these children and young adults were kicked out of their homes, fleeing unsafe conditions, or separated from family due to financial woes. Their options were slim and their future prospects sometimes terrifying. Sea Haven first recognized a need when they were founded in 1980, vowing to facilitate healing and recovery and promote the social and emotional well-being of children, youth, and families who have experienced trauma. Sea Haven promised to provide community-based services for runaway and homeless youth, youth at risk of running away, and their families by offering temporary emergency shelter, food, clothing, counseling, case management, referrals for appropriate services, and aftercare. Of course, this program wouldn’t be able to help so many if it weren’t for the generous donations given by the community, many through Waccamaw Community Foundation donors and grants programs.

Almost 40 years later, Sea Haven is still committed every day to helping homeless and forgotten youth, not only in crisis situations but in the long-term as well to ensure they become healthy and independent adults. Sea Haven has made a long-term impact in the community and to the lives of many. Looking at a nonprofit from the outside, it can be hard to understand exactly what they could really be doing to help, especially to help with a problem as systemic as homelessness, but one way to measure success is to ask the very people who have benefited. These are the real stories of previously homeless or forgotten youth that Sea Haven has helped over the years. Through their stories, we can get a glimpse to understand more about the lives that Sea Haven saves every day.

Anita (name changed due to confidentiality) A youth formerly living in a local women’s shelter for over two years, was housed through the Sea Haven HUD Housing Program. She and her sister were able to move out of the shelter and into their own apartment. Her sister currently resides with her at her new residence. Both sisters are currently employed and are 100% self-sufficient.

Daniel (name changed due to confidentiality) A formerly homeless youth was housed through the Sisters’ of Charity Grant. Daniel came to us because his grandmother whom he lived with, had been put into a nursing home. He tried briefly reconciling with his father who quickly offered to pimp his son out to make money. Daniel decided he would come to Myrtle Beach to make a change. He was quickly swindled out of his money and homeless. We helped get Daniel off the streets and into his first apartment. Daniel worked hard, saved his money and was able to purchase his first car. He is currently working full time and is 100% self-sufficient.

Jose (name changed due to confidentiality) A youth formerly homeless for over two years received housing assistance through the Sea Haven housing program. Jose was left at an early age for his grandfather to raise along with several other cousins. Eventually the grandfather’s home became too crowded with relatives and Jose was asked to leave. He wandered the streets and slept where he could. With Sea Haven’s help, he was able to get a job as a dishwasher. Sea Haven was able to help him find, pay for and move into his first apartment.

Sandra (name changed due to confidentiality) Through case management, hard work, and dedication Sandra was able to finish her education and become a Certified EMT. Sandra came to us because she and her boyfriend were homeless. During counseling, she admitted that her boyfriend was abusive. The Sea Haven Counselor and Case Manager worked to help her address her self-esteem issues. She decided to break up with the boyfriend and go back to school. After staying with friends, Sandra was able to save money on her own and now has her own apartment.

Abe (name changed due to confidentiality) A pregnant transgender (female to male) youth was reunited with his adoptive parents with the help of Family Counseling and a bus ticket provided by Sea Haven. He first came to Project Lighthouse on a bus from Kentucky with nothing but his backpack and a few hundred dollars. He quickly ran out of money, found himself homeless and feeling sick every day. At Project Lighthouse, we were able to arrange a doctor’s appointment only to find out that he was pregnant. Through counseling, he was able to talk with his parents and they invited him back home. He gave birth to a healthy baby boy and is an amazing parent.

The Grants Committee, Board and staff of Waccamaw Community Foundation are proud to support Sea Haven’s mission to help at risk youth and families. WCF connects donors with organizations that make an impact in our communities. If you would like to support Sea Haven for Youth through WCF, contact Shawna Mosley-Foster at [email protected].