CONWAY, SC (WMBF) Sunday marked the grand opening of the latest homeless shelter to offer services in the Grand Strand. This particular shelter is different than others in Horry County because it's the first that will welcome homeless pregnant teenage girls.
President Lorretta Keeling said she came up with the idea to open a shelter after she was told the other shelters in the area were turning away the young girls. Keeling said the other shelters couldn't take in the girls because of zoning laws.
"The closest home for a girl that's pregnant and homeless- 130 miles and the next one is 180 miles. There's nothing like this in Horry County," Keeling said.
Keeling said she's approved to provide a home to five girls who are pregnant. But, she said if the need calls for more than five girls, she'll take extreme measures to give the girls a home.
"If anymore comes than that- they're going to my house. I will not turn one away," Keeling said.
The home sits on the 700 block of University Forest Circle in Conway.
Keeling said for now, she is paying rent for the home out of pocket. And by getting the word out, she hopes to receive more donations from local businesses. Brendan Curran's company, Paragon General Contracting provided free labor to get the house move-in ready. He said the company did it because the need called for it.
"We felt it was our responsibility as local citizens and it was also a civic responsibility to get involved. Nobody ever wants to hear that there's a kid living in the street. She's pregnant. She has no place to go. Now she does," Curran said.
Keeling said girls will start arriving to the home within days. She said once the girls are evaluated mentally and physically, they will begin doctor visits. Keeling said she will set the girls up with spiritual, educational and parental classes. But, she added, each case will be treated on an individual basis.
"We're gonna give them the education, job skills- spiritually, intellectually. By the time they're done leaving here we'll be able to clip their wings and they fly," Keeling said.