Our speaker this week was Myrtle Beach Rotarian, Kathy Jenkins. Kathy is the Executive Director of New Directions, the primary agency for the homeless in the greater Myrtle Beach area. In 2011, the City of Myrtle Beach decided that there needed to be more coordination of homeless services. New Directions was founded in 2013 and merged together four independent shelters with a focus on improving efficiency and working with homeless clients that “want to change”.
Last year, New Directions served 1,137 individuals which included 190 children. The agency provided 65,000 “bed nights” in various shelter buildings. 65 men and 20 women are currently on the waiting list. There is a plan to add seventy-four beds focusing on veterans and the “working homeless.” The shelters and programs for helping clients into employment are run by fourteen full time and four part-time employees with an annual budget of $950,000. Of this, approximately $200,000 in support comes from individuals. Other major donors and sponsors include the City of Myrtle Beach, Chapin Foundation, County United Way, the Sisters of Charity, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America.
New Directions staff coordinate and partner with thirty-one agencies. Kathy noted that “homelessness is a multi-level issue,” that may involve mental illness, addictions, broken families, etc. New Directions’ focus is to provide food, shelter, safety, and hope.