Education, work, safety: Horry County youth benefit from Sea Haven street outreach van

Published: Sep. 20, 2022 at 5:50 AM EDT
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HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - A youth outreach program in Horry County is helping more youth than ever thanks to a new set of wheels.

Sea Haven’s mission is to provide help like an emergency shelter for runaway kids, or a temporary place for them when they’re facing troubles at home.

The new street outreach van serves as a way for youth to get needed resources at Sea Haven.

“I’m going through a hard time, but I’ll still find something to keep me going, said Elvin Stanley, a young man who recently benefited from Sea Haven’s services.

Whether it’s music, the death of his daughter, or even coming by Sea Haven’s Project Lighthouse, the 19-year-old said the organization has helped him to stay the course as he makes it through life.

“They took care of me basically,” said Stanley. “They took me to the soup kitchen. I met them at the soup kitchen in the youth van. They helped me get food stamps. They helped me with a lot of stuff. I’m on the list to get housing, so I’m about to get a house.”

Bank of America gifted the van to Sea Haven about five months ago, after it was named a Neighborhood Champion in 2021.

Executive Director Curtis Joe said the street outreach van has allowed them to reach more teens in crisis.

“We have a lot of kids,” he said. “The youth are staying on the street or nevertheless, we have kids that just don’t know that there’s a resource out there for them, so what we’ve had the privilege of doing is showing up.”

So far, the team has been able to make contact with close to 80 young people ranging from ages 18 to 25.

Out of the 80, about 17 have used it for education, employment, health and safety, transitioning, and a housing program.

“It takes some time to just get used to doing what we’re doing out here,” said David Koch, the Director of Young Adult Services for Sea Haven Project Lighthouse. “But just seeing new kids just walk through the door that’s the huge part, that’s the big impact. Having some kids come in and being able to change some lives.”

As Stanley transitions through his journey, he said it’s important to remember that storms he may go through will eventually clear up.

“It’s about staying strong, really to be honest,” he said. “If you can stay strong you can do anything. You just got to keep your head straight. Life can get tough, but you got to find a way to get through it.”