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Safe Haven reopens for Christmas, thanks to Colleton donations

Editor’s Note: This is s story that is part of a series of news stories that The Colletonian is doing to showcase the status of the Safe Haven Shelter and its homeless impact in our community.

Safe Haven Homeless Shelter officially re-opened Tuesday afternoon.
The shelter, which is Colleton County’s only homeless shelter, closed in September due to a lack of funding. When it closed, approximately 10 women and children were left to find shelter elsewhere.
This newspaper began covering the issue approximately two weeks ago, citing a growing need of people from the greater Lowcountry area calling the shelter for holiday housing. Public donations began pouring in, and the shelter is temporarily open again.
The utilities were reconnected on Monday, and the water was reconnected on Tuesday afternoon.
By Wednesday morning, there will be an estimated five people living in the homeless shelter: one woman with three children and one single female are currently staying at the shelter. The shelter is now accepting up to 19 more people to stay in the shelter through the holidays.
“We have had a tremendous amount of support from our community. I am so grateful and so thankful that our community came together,” said Tara Glover, interim executive director of the Lowcountry Community Action Agency (LCAA). The LCAA is the umbrella agency in Colleton County that is governing the shelter and its funds.
According to Glover, the shelter can open now through the holidays thanks to the outpouring of donations from the Colleton community. About $5,000 in donations was raised on Friday, Dec. 13th. These funds came from area businesses and individual residents. Churches have also been donating items for the families in need, including Christmas gifts for children who are entering the shelter this week.
“I am speechless and blown away,” she said on Tuesday.
“We are still receiving donations.”
In all, as of the press deadline on Tuesday, the LCAA has $5,805 in its operating budget for the shelter. Glover anticipates these funds will cover utilities, grocery needs, holiday gifts for the children in the shelter and re-homing help for those in the shelter. It is the shelter’s policy to rehome each family after 30 days — this process including helping them to find employment and an apartment. The first months’ rent and utilities are also paid for by the LCAA. Usually, furniture, appliances, and clothing for the newly rehomed clients are either donated by area businesses or are supplied by the shelter.
“We also have had some banks call us and offer to pay for utility bills for the shelter, so the funds could be used to purchase groceries in the shelter and provide them with Christmas dinners,” said Glover.
According to Glover, the shelter is “good” for the rest of December. However, she says the shelter’s leaders at LCAA are continuing to collect funds for the shelter to stay in operation through 2020. Glover says she will also seek funds from the City of Walterboro, from Colleton County Council and the state via a grant. This state grant was the largest single financial supplier to the shelter: however, the grant was not given to the shelter for the 2018-2019 grant cycle. Glover says this is because she was placed into the executive director as an interim and was unaware of the grant cycle process.
As more funds are collected to keep the shelter going, Glover says the funds will ultimately be dispersed to two employees of the LCAA. With funds low to non-existent, these two employees have been working free of charge.
One of these employees is Anna Thomas, who serves as the shelter coordinator. Thomas has been volunteering her time and not receiving a check. “It’s by the strength of the good Lord. When you have a passion for doing something, you do what you got to do,” she said. Thomas cleaned the shelter on Monday in preparation for its opening on Wednesday. “I want to help the less fortunate,” she said.
Thomas said she is still seeking gifts for the Christmas season. Groceries are also needed, she said.
“When we closed, I gave the food from the freezer to the less fortunate, to elderly ladies in the community who needed it. I also gave it to past clients who needed it, as well,” said Thomas. “Now, we need to restock our pantry.”
To donate food or gifts, Thomas is at the shelter from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
“If people want to bring things, I will be there,” she said. Anyone wanting to donate food can call Thomas at 843-599-9270.
The Safe Haven Homeless Shelter is for women, children, and “married couples.” This stipulation allows for the husbands of women and children to stay at the shelter and keep families together, said Glover.
Many of those who are seeking housing at Safe Haven are from Colleton County and neighboring areas, like Beaufort, Charleston and Hampton County.

Heather Walters (1738 Posts)