Sea Haven, Myrtle Beach, S.C., is a Community Enrichment grantee that provides outreach services to connect with struggling, homeless and near homeless at-risk youth on the streets. Once youth are contacted, the program helps youth create and maintain an individual goal plan working towards personal goals in the areas of permanency, self-sufficiency, safety, connections with caring adults, and positive well-being.

“Sometimes people have this ‘out of sight out of mind’ mentality and they have no clue what these youth face every day whether in an abusive home, surviving on the street, searching for h/her next meal and place to lay their head.  Most of these youth just want to be loved but the lifestyle of living on the streets is so engrained in them it is a very difficult cycle to break,” Christina Jackson, Sea Haven Executive Director, said.

Sea Haven’s Street Outreach program is the only ‘drop-in’ center in Horry County as well as in S.C. for homeless runaway and at-risk youth.  The center is a place that youth can feel safe in a positive youth development environment, not judged by trained staff who utilize evidence based practices such as motivational interviewing and trauma informed care, and have access to immediate services such as laundry facilities, showers, food, survival gear, safe housing, and counseling.

The next step can involve integration into the Transitional Living Program which provides extensive case management and counseling services, life skills classes, safe stable housing, job readiness programs, Adult Education training and opportunities to complete the GED test.

“Without Sea Haven’s programs, these youth will remain on the streets being victimized, exploited, and sometimes killed,” Jackson said. “The goal of the programs is to walk beside the youth as h/she creates a goal plan and guide the youth through that plan to self-sufficiency, safety, and positive wellbeing.”

Currently there are 22 active participants, working towards goals for independence and securing safe affordable housing.  These youth are attending college, working seasonal jobs and preparing for more long term employment, completing volunteer community service projects, and maintaining goals as stated in their personal goal plan.

“Due to the transient population in Myrtle Beach, these numbers will fluctuate.  Participants enter the aftercare program once all goals on the individualized goal plan have been met and h/she graduates from the program.  Sea Haven will follow the youth for up to one year to provide guidance,” Jackson said.

Currently the program has provided safe affordable housing for ten youth through the Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina.  It is projected that by the end of the first grant cycle in 2016, another two youth will move into apartments.  Their grant, which is used as a “moving-in” fund for participants, helps continue providing financial assistance for each of 12 youth graduates to help meet the initial moving-in costs of security and utility deposits.

“The Sisters of Charity has given Sea Haven the chance to find stable safe housing for youth who would otherwise continue sleeping on the streets, in port o johns, on the beaches, and in unsafe and dangerous areas along the Grand Strand.  We value this partnership and thank the Sisters of Charity Foundation for believing in the mission of Sea Haven to improve the overall wellbeing and safety of homeless forgotten youth,” Jackson said.