Sea Haven’s newest outreach program has wheels. Started in October as a pilot program, the Expanded Mobile Outreach has provided 24 packets of food and basic survival items to homeless young people. Executive Director Christina Jackson says the nonprofit works with area law enforcement officers to schedule the EMO at places where homeless youth may come to the van and receive snacks, non-perishable food, water, information packets, educational information and hygiene products.
The EMO is still in the works but Jackson sees it growing -- as long as she can find the money. The pilot EMO is financed by a federal community block grant. It goes without saying that Jackson and others involved in nonprofit charities are anxiously watching the political battle over federal spending. Another new outreach program is “Combat Hunger Backpacks” for 90 high and middle school students. The program works like Backpack Buddies of Help 4 Kids, which is now in two dozen elementary schools; guidance counselors identify students needing weekend food and it is placed in backpacks on Fridays. The program started in 2011 and is in nine schools.
Outreach efforts are “the biggest part of Sea Haven,” Jackson says. Started in 1980, Sea Haven is one of the area’s most venerable nonprofits. One of the main outreach programs is Project Safe Place. Outreach coordinator Wendy Gore says 90 businesses throughout Horry County display “SAFE PLACE” signs, identifying them as places children may go in any sort of situation. Participating businesses make the child feel secure and Sea Haven is notified and swiftly responds.
Project Lighthouse, on Highway 15 in Myrtle Beach, has drop-in non-residential services, including contacting their families, counseling and referrals for runaway or homeless street youth. Gore says the program helps an estimated 200 young people a year. Project Lighthouse costs an estimated $150,000 to $200,000 a year and is supported by a $105,000 federal Health & Human Services grant. The Transitional Living Program, on Oak Street in Myrtle Beach, has case management services and life skills instruction for youth at scattered sites. They are referred by several agencies including Street Reach, Myrtle Beach Haven, North Strand Housing Shelter and Alliance Inn. The Transitional Living Program is supported by a $146,000 grant.
Sea Haven’s flagship and only residential program is the shelter home on S.C. 9 in Little River. For 18 years, it’s been a family-style shelter for runaway and homeless at-risk youth ages 13-17. Referrals come from Family Court, the S.C. Department of Juvenile Justice, schools, parents and law enforcement. Typically, the nine-bed shelter has six or seven teens. In 2011, over 225 youth were temporarily cared for and 79 were homeless or runaways. One bed is held open for overnight emergencies. The shelter receives a $199,000 grant, about half the annual operating cost.
Sea Haven’s total operating budget is $710,000. Fundraisers include the long-running Sea Haven Annual Fundraiser, a dinner and cash giveaway event in September and for four years the annual Invitational Bass Tournament of the Loris Swampfox Bassmasters Club which recently presented a $6,200.09 check for the shelter. For two years, Benny Rappa’s Trattoria in North Myrtle Beach has raised $8,000 or $9,000 in a March event.
Jackson has been with Sea Haven nine years. She has worked 21 years in the human services area after receiving a degree from the University of South Carolina at what is now Coastal Carolina University.
More about Sea Haven
For more information or to make a financial donation to Sea Haven:
Online | www.seahaveninc.com
Phone | Executive director Christina Jackson 843-399-4045