Ten Most Frequently Asked Questions About Hope House of Myrtle Beach:
1. What is Hope House?
Hope House of Myrtle Beach is a totally volunteer managed non-profit organization dedicated to furthering the education and general well-being of homeless Myrtle Beach High School students. The day-to-day focus is to provide students with their immediate needs which includes medical care, food, tutoring, test fees, clothing, school supplies, athletic gear, and whatever else may present itself so that attending school is a nurturing experience which represents a home-like environment for them.
2. How do you decide which children to help? Where do they come from? Why are they homeless?
Hope House kids must be formally enrolled and actively attending classes at Myrtle Beach High. Homeless students are identified under the dictates of the McKinney-Vento Act, a Federal mandate which offers some support for the disadvantaged, namely free breakfast and lunch at school. Hope House extends a more comprehensive helping hand. Most children in need have not been utterly abandoned; other have. Each case is unique. Struggling, below poverty level income, single-parent family units are the most common. Typically, the student has no secure form of housing, no safe, conducive environment in which to get a good night’s sleep or enough to eat. Many work after school in order to contribute to the family’s survival. Not infrequently, homeless students try to hide their condition, not wanting to appear homeless or disadvantaged. Inability to stay awake in class, dingy clothing or signs of hunger are red flags for school administrators. These teens come from broken homes, have lost their parents or have been abandoned, yet are old enough that they do not wish to be part of the social services system.
3. How many students is Hope House currently supporting?
The number of students supported by Hope House constantly varies. In a homeless condition, family units are typically nomadic, forced to relocate if work becomes available elsewhere or the chance of better living conditions suddenly arises. And, again, often led by a single parent who does not earn an acceptable wage. On average, Hope House provides for the immediate needs of between 20 and 40 students at any given time. It is important to know that there are many students at Myrtle Beach High School who may not be designated homeless but who are in dire circumstances. ALL students are assisted in every way we can. The number of unaccompanied youth averages around 5 to as many as 10. When there are no family members to turn to, these are usually placed with other Myrtle Beach High School families until they graduate.
4. What sorts of donations is Hope House looking for?
Donations of food, clothing, school supplies, and in particular, personal toiletries are always needed. Toilet paper and laundry detergent are also much called for items. Money, of course, is the most efficient way to donate. Hope House maintains excellent financial records, readily available to the public. We have a 501(C)3 tax exempt status and are registered with the South Carolina Secretary of State Charities Division. Gift cards are purchased for Hope House students’ individual needs – Wal-Mart being the most versatile – currency is never given to the students.
5. Whom should a person contact to inquire about volunteering?
Concerned persons wishing to volunteer their time and skills to further the efforts of Hope House are encouraged to contact us directly by email at email@example.com or by visiting our website: www.hopehouseofmyrtlebeach.org. Hope House welcomes volunteers. Fund raising efforts are sporadic but ongoing. When events present themselves, volunteers provide the manpower to solicit donations, help with setting up and managing display booths, sell raffle tickets, inform the public of Hope House activities and keep the ball rolling. Academically skilled volunteers offer remedial tutoring for struggling students. Doctors and dentists donate services to ensure the general health of students.
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6. How does the public contact Hope House?
Hope House maintains and regularly updates its website: www.hopehouseofmyrtlebeach.org. You may also visit Hope House on Facebook. Though we do not have offices and our phone is not “manned,” we do make every effort to answer both video and email messages within 48 hours from the time they are received. Please, call 843.808.2739
7. What are the long range goals of Hope House?
From the beginning, Hope House has declared a long range goal of providing a shelter for our homeless high school students. The concept is a dormitory style building and 60% of all funds raised, unless otherwise specified, are dedicated to our building fund. Recently, we have seriously considered adopting a more contemporary approach through transitional housing which will avoid the many legalities and huge financial demands that a shelter presents.
8. What is the Hope House story? How did it start?
On December 11, 2008, a front page article in the Myrtle Beach Herald newspaper announced a large presence of homeless students at Myrtle Beach High School. Until then, the Myrtle Beach community at large was unaware that homeless students — at the time, nearly 200 of them — were enrolled at Myrtle Beach High. Community response was immediate, unqualified and unprecedented. Within days cash donations to high school administrators topped $20,000. Food, clothing and other materials poured in. School officials were inundated with requests to help in any way. The writer of the article, Bo Bryan, received numerous requests for further information, along with suggestions as to how the effort to help homeless students might be formalized and made on-going. Meetings were held with school officials, one of whom, Cookie Goings, Director of Guidance, inspired a core group to form a non-profit corporation. Today, only a few years later, Hope House is a well-known non-profit entity in the Myrtle Beach community.
9. What is the greater good Hope House might accomplish by its example of nurturing homeless students?
In essence, the formation of Hope House was the spontaneous reaction of an entire community to the dire needs of homeless high school students. The bravery and endurance of these students – who refuse to drop out of school and are determined to further their education in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds – is simply inspiring. According to government statistics, 1 in 50 children in America meets the McKinney Vento definition of homelessness. That number is both astounding, and nearly impossible to grasp. Nevertheless, cursory research by Hope House reveals that almost all public schools in the immediate area of Myrtle Beach also have homeless students enrolled. The problem is nationwide. Hope House was not built in a day. It took several years for the vision to solidify, for non-profit tax status to be secured, for by-laws and policies to be written, for organizational stability to be established. However, nothing done in Myrtle Beach required special knowledge or expert application. It only took time and the desire to do something for those brave kids struggling to save themselves from a lifetime of homelessness, often portended by academic impoverishment. Assisting these students shows them there are those who care. This, in turn, makes them a part of the community in which they then want to play a viable role in the future. We are visibly investing in the future of our country.
10. Where is Hope House located?
Hope House has an office address of 708 Main Street, Myrtle Beach, SC 29577 where we receive mail. Our actual location is at Myrtle Beach High School where we receive donations of food and clothing as well as administrative services. The Hope House Board of Directors, together with the staff and administration of Myrtle Beach High School, work through the Guidance Department to seek and serve our students who are designated homeless and help them to meet the necessary requirements to receive a diploma. Though we do not have an actual office or address we are pleased to say this assures us a very low operational expense.