Sea Haven for Youth unveils new shelter home for homeless teenag - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Sea Haven for Youth unveils new shelter home for homeless teenagers

Sea Haven for Youth's new shelter home has 16 beds (Source: Amy Lipman) Sea Haven for Youth's new shelter home has 16 beds (Source: Amy Lipman)

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Sea Haven for Youth has a new shelter home with double the bed capacity than the former shelter, giving organizers the opportunity to help even more homeless teenagers.

“My mission is to ensure the well-being and safety of every youth that comes into this program,” said David Koch, program director of the shelter home. “It’s kind of easier when you have a very nice place for them to come into.”

The organization held a grand opening Friday, showing off the new shelter home as well as a recreation building and administrative office all on one campus off Highway 57 near Little River.

“It’s just beautiful,” said Sen. Greg Hembree, who attended the grand opening. “And it’s peaceful and it’s stable. All the things a lot of kids that find themselves here don’t have where they came from.”

Executive director Christina Jackson said the last building Sea Haven for Youth was using as a shelter near McLeod Seacoast was 60 years old and required an increasing amount of maintenance.

Jackson added that the hospital was expanding, so the organization sold the property to the hospital and found the property the current campus is now on along Highway 57.

“It’s a more modern facility,” Jackson said. “We have a private confidential campus now where kids can enjoy the backyard, the basketball court, the recreation facility, and just have a good time and feel safe while they’re here.”

She said weather, county building codes and inspections caused the project to take a while to complete.

“Just had a lot of challenges down the road. Had to redo some things,” Jackson said. “We finally made it and we have this beautiful campus now and we overcame a lot of those obstacles.

The shelter home has 16 beds, a modernized kitchen, as well as living and counseling spaces.

“We see anywhere from seven to eight at one time,” Jackson said of the typical population of the shelter. “As we increase awareness and education about the new home, I’m sure those numbers will increase as well.”

It’s for homeless teenagers between the ages of 13 and 17 who need an emergency place to stay while staff members work to reunite them with their families or find other long-term living arrangements.

“They are scared. They are nervous,” said Koch of how teenagers usually feel when they first enter the home. “Sometimes they’re angry. There’s a lot of emotions that are going on.”

Teenagers usually stay at the program up to three weeks. Once they leave, they’re monitored and can get counseling services for up to a year.

“We have had some just dramatic changes in kids and attitudes,” Koch said.

The new shelter home has been in use since October, but Jackson said the organization waited until the recreation center and some other work was finalized before unveiling it all to the public.

“I feel every time a child walks out of here - if they were here for any amount of time - I definitely feel that we changed their life,” Koch said.

Copyright 2017 WMBF News. All rights reserved.

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