New Americans Program coming to Myrtle Beach; Aims to help refugees settle in the Grand Strand

Published: Jan. 12, 2023 at 5:35 PM EST
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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - A new program is expanding into the Grand Strand to assist refugees who choose Myrtle Beach as their safe haven. The Grand Strand could see these new refugees as early as this spring.

For the first time, The Lutheran Services Carolinas will be bringing the New American Program to Myrtle Beach, opening its first location in the Avenue Professional Center Complex. LSC is currently based across the Carolinas in Raleigh and Asheville in North Carolina and Columbia, Charleston, and Greenville, South Carolina.

The program’s goal is to assist refugees with transitioning to the United States and beginning the process of obtaining American citizenship.

According to the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, this program has been in the works in Myrtle Beach since May 2022.

“There is nothing more American than supporting those who come here,” said Executive Director for New Americans Programs Matt Emery. “It’s the American way to search for the American dream.”

Emery said last year they helped more than a thousand refugees from across the Carolinas settle in the US, 700 of those refugees settled in South Carolina. He predicts those numbers could rise for 2023, prompting them to set up another office in Myrtle Beach.

“For me, it’s a calling to helping those in need who have nowhere else to turn,” said Emery. “America has always been a land that welcomed those in need coming from other areas. I think that is our calling to help those who need that help.”

The program offers housing, healthcare, cultural education, school enrollment, English tutoring and communication needs.

Emery will be working along with the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce to also help refugees have a smoother transition when it comes to offering job opportunities.

President and CEO for MBACC Karen Riordan said an upcoming meeting with the business community will focus on job opportunities and bringing the community together.

“One of the things we do well is bring the business community together with this need. That’s why we said we would be happy to host having employers coming in and learn about the program,” said Riordan. “So that, when the families do arrive, they’re going to need food, they are going to need housing, they are going to clothing, they’re going to need jobs.”

Riordan said it could be possible that refugees will be coming to settle in Myrtle Beach as early as this Spring.

“These folks had made the painful decision to, due to war, that they are resettling, so they will never live in Ukraine again,” said Riordan. “They are permanently going to be on a path to citizenship in the United States of America.”

The New American Program information session will be held on Jan. 20 starting at 9:30 a.m. in the Chamber’s Ballroom.

A dedication service and open house for the New Americans Program will be held on March 12 at 2 p.m. in the Avenue Professional Center Complex at 1551 21st Ave. N.