New Directions aims to eliminate homelessness, not give ‘handouts’

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – A non-profit organization in Myrtle Beach is concentrated on helping people escape homelessness, not just sustaining them through it.

New Directions is a relatively new group that is offering more than a handout to those in need. Kathy Jenkins, Executive Director of New Directions, says newly released numbers show that the group’s concentration on individualized case management is helping people to not be homeless any longer.

“We’re not giving handouts,” said Kathy Jenkins, Executive Director of New Directions. “We’re helping people regain their financial footing, regain their self-confidence and become self-sufficient by giving them the tools and resources that they need.”

New Directions has provided shelter for 997 men, women, and children and served 53,007 meals during the past two years, according to Jenkins. But she says those numbers aren’t the real yardsticks of success.

  •  More than 900 people have enrolled in the Back to Work/Back to Life Program.
  •  504 people have found jobs.
  •  182 people have graduated from Job Readiness classes.
  •  353 people have moved into permanent housing.
  •  Another 245 who were not direct clients have moved into permanent housing through New Directions’ partnership with the Myrtle Beach Housing Authority.
  •  53 families have been saved from eviction and homelessness.
  •  145 people, including four children, have been reunited with families or a support system outside of Myrtle Beach.

The core of the program provides recovery classes, job readiness classes, permanent housing assistance and long-term case management, which supports the reduction of homelessness rather than survival within the circumstances.

“We teach anything from classes on self-confidence to anger management,” Jenkins says. “We teach them how to write a résumé, how to apply for jobs online and how to write letters. We even provide a letter of recommendation once they graduate from the class,” Jenkins added.

New Directions operates four shelters under one umbrella: New Directions for Men (formerly Street Reach), New Directions for Women (formerly Life Line), New Directions for Families (formerly Myrtle Beach Haven) and New Directions Transition for Women and Children (formerly The Center for Women and Children).

Once people find work through the Job Readiness class, they advance to the six-week-long “Work-Stay” program at Street Reach. After clients find employment, they pay $60 per week as a service fee to help with operating costs at Street Reach. The $60 covers such things as the cost of the Job Readiness program, telephone service, Internet, case management and laundry.

Life Line is another former shelter now under New Directions’ wing, serving women who are in crisis. In most cases, these are women who are homeless due to domestic violence, other abuse or crime. In 2014 and 2015, Life Line served 135 women and 105 children and continues to be a place where women can get help.

Myrtle Beach Haven is the newest shelter under New Directions’ leadership. It serves homeless families in the community, serving single men and women, children in domestic violence situations, victims of other crimes, transitional families and homeless teenagers. All women with children are now served at this shelter.

Myrtle Beach Haven re-opened in November 2015 after months of renovations and can accommodate 50 to 60 people. In the last two months, 12 families, including 36 adults and 21 children, lived at Myrtle Beach Haven while they got back on their feet.

“We’re expanding the realm of who we’re able to serve, to encompass everybody until we’re at capacity,” said Jenkins. “We want to be the central agency where, no matter what your homeless situation is, no matter who you are or what your circumstance is, that there’s one place you can call, and we can get you shelter.”

One of the keys to the agency’s successes is Street Reach Enterprises, a temporary labor agency that began in 2012. It has maintenance contracts with the City of Myrtle Beach and other businesses to help get people back to work. Jobs include landscaping, laundry services, and other short-term labor opportunities with the several local hotels and restaurants.

For more information on New Directions, contact Kathy Jenkins at 843-945-4902. New Directions and its shelters are United Way organizations.

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