FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - A rundown building off Railroad Ave. is being transformed into an emergency homeless shelter near downtown Florence. It will soon be a place for people to have a safe place to sleep at night. The House of Hope of the Pee Dee partnered with another nonprofit organization to help make this happen.
SNAC, Shelter and Nutrition for all Children was founded by Courtney Graham. Graham and Bryan Braddock, Executive Director of House of Hope for the Pee Dee had discussed building an emergency shelter together. Graham passed away unexpectedly six months ago. So, the new shelter will be named and built in her honor.
More than 80 people at a time will be able to call the building home. Seven thousand square feet will be completely renovated into a shelter open all night for those who don't have anywhere to sleep. In Courtney Graham's honor, an anonymous donor gave 350 thousand dollars to the House of Hope. Executive Director, Bryan Braddock knows just what to do with the money.
Braddock says, "We've set aside two hundred thousand dollars of that for operations for the next 18 months to make sure this facility is going to serve and meet the needs of those who come."
Those who come will have a safe place to lay their head at night. There is no limit to how many days a person can stay. With washer and dryers, lockers, showers, beds, and a hot meal every morning and night, people will have everything they need. The hours are 5 p.m. until 7 a.m. Men will have their own rooms and women and children will be in a separate facility.
Wanda Vereen, Director of Women and Children at House of Hope will take her ten years of experience and also serve at the new shelter home. "Sometimes a mother just needs that little lift or that encouragement and just to connect with the resources to get what she needs to get back on her feet and provide for her children. Helping to put those pieces together is very rewarding for me. Just to see the smiles on the children's faces when things start to come together, because when mom feels better, the children know it," says Vereen.
Braddock says the location off railroad avenue near downtown will be just right to help meet the needs of the area and the people. He says, "This is close to the museum, the library, the bus station, the transportation in the area and all the services that people who are homeless are looking for, but it's not in the middle of the city. So its got access but its kind of tucked away."
"Just the fact that we can reach so many more people excites me. Just to know that we serve people every day, but that we can reach even more is just wonderful," said Vereen.
House of Hope is currently accepting donations right now to o towards the renovations. Braddock says there are also plans to hire ten new staff leaders to work the shelter. The goal is to start construction beginning of 2016, and have it up and running in May.