Homeless youth program opens doors to community

MYRTLE BEACH, SC – A program that has helps hundreds of homeless children and teens in Myrtle Beach opened its doors to the public on Friday.

Project Lighthouse is a branch of Sea Haven Transitional Living Program. It provides support for homeless youth under the age of 21, through a drop-in service. On Friday, Sea Haven invited community members to a Drop-In Open House, so that they could see how the program works firsthand.

“I could still be out, toting a gun on my hip, selling drugs or gang banging but yet I’m here. Without them who would I have?” says John Chandler. He just got out of prison two months ago, after serving two years. He’s only 20 years old. He says he didn’t know where to go when he got out, until a friend referred him to “Project Lighthouse”. “This is a place where they look out for you, they feed you, they take care of you … I wish  I would have had this a lot earlier, maybe I would have went in a whole new direction”

“Project Lifehouse” offers a number of services to homeless teenagers and children, including food, shelter and clothing. However, they also try to fulfill any needs those children may have in general – such as helping with college applications or paying for driver’s education classes. The program helped approximately 200 people last year, and about 35 last month.

“To see the joy on someone’s face, after they walk through the door hopeless and leave with their head held up high, knowing that there is a brighter future, it’s a tremendous impact,” says Andy Whipple. He is the Program Manager for “Project Lighthouse”. He says the kids they help don’t just get everything handed to them -“here, the youth have to put an effort in, they have to be responsible for their actions. Education is very important, but employment is required”

Chandler says thanks to Project Lighthouse, he now has a full-time job and is getting ready to lease his own apartment. However, he says Sea Haven has given him much more than material resources. “These people actually try to get you, they try to understand you, so they can try to find a better way to help you. No matter what you’re going through, you’ll always come through here and get a laugh.”