‘I feel grateful to be able to help’: Project Lighthouse provides for young adults days before Christmas

Published: Dec. 22, 2022 at 9:23 PM EST
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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - Thursday brought tears of joy to dozens of young men and women, who opened wanted and needed gifts.

No matter how big or small the present is, leaders at Sea Haven’s Project Lighthouse are doing everything they can to make sure every teen and young adult involved in their program has something ahead of Christmas.

Christmas can be magical through the eyes of a toddler as well as a mom who’s getting a little extra help this holiday season.

“We actually grew a lot, like she was little and now she’s walking, talking, doing everything and they really have been a big part,” said Franisha Green, a Conway resident a part of Project Lighthouse.

For 24-year-old Green, that’s where Project Lighthouse comes in. Green remembers walking through their doors just two years ago.

“When I first came here I was eight months pregnant and COVID came around, so I lost my job, then I lost my house, so basically I was just sleeping on people’s couches and my back was really hurting,” she said. “When you’re at your end, it’s really not the end because there’s people out here that have warm hearts to help you.”

The youth outreach program shows up for teens and young adults who may be in crisis and may need temporary shelter.

Housing, dental assistance, and even lifestyle skills for the workforce are some things Green said have been a blessing.

“I feel grateful to be able to help the demographic that we’re helping, 18 to 24-year-olds,” said Jasmine Nesbitt, the Transition Specialist of Sea Haven. “A lot of times, this demographic, they tend to be forgotten because people tend to think about the younger kids so it’s just a great opportunity to be able to help these kids and make their Christmas.”

One staff member shared how a teen she worked with has never had someone ask what they wanted for Christmas.

When that teen got a bike, there were tears of joy.

“You know, it’s the most wonderful time of the year,” said, David Koch, The Director of Adult Services of Sea Haven.

Leaders said more than ever, young adults have been sleeping out of their cars or on the streets this time of year.

Koch said he saw fourteen new young men and women in the past week join the program, doubling the number of young adults they see daily.

“We run into kids that their home life was terrible,” he said. “They never ever had a chance or they got pushed out of foster care at 18, and you know nobody there to help them. For us, it’s about helping out those kids. Sometimes you just need help in finding the right help, and that’s what I like to do.”

Those who have benefited, they’re not focused on the gifts as much as they are on the whole experience, yet thankful to call this program family at all times of the year.

“If you don’t have family or not feeling like love-oriented, you can come here and feel the love and get gifts and laughs. it’s all about being around people, like happy people, around the holidays,” said Green.

The goal of the program for the upcoming year is to serve 300 young adults.