By HEATHER RUPPE
It’s easy to avert your gaze, avoiding the faces of the homeless and needy in Colleton. One by one, they often lineup, asking for clothes, a meal, or a safe place sleep. Every story is unique. Every need different. Some live in patches of woods in Colleton County. They need a home. Others want to get their lives together. They need a job. But all want to be clean and accepted in the community. Regardless of the stories behind their situation, they all need one thing: help.
In His Name-Colleton is a non-profit organization. It is a Christ-centered outreach that offers help to those in need. Since the group first began more than nine years ago, it has helped more than 5,000 people in Colleton County.
The group is actively working with officials in both the county and city to open a new shelter that would serve all of Colleton as there are currently no shelters established or open in the county. Board member Amanda Herndon, a 31-year-old Walterboro native, is a full-time volunteer and passionate advocate for pursuing change and meeting the needs of the homeless.
“We know there are a lot of buildings in this town that are options. We need people willing to work with us to make this happen,” said Herndon.
Unfortunately, In His Name-Colleton is running into obstacles with their search for a shelter. Some of the buildings are in the city’s historic district, which comes with specific regulations. Other buildings carry hefty price tags to be brought up to code.
The clock is ticking.
With the cold season approaching and holidays coming, people are going to have more needs.
Amanda said there are at least 50 people she can think of right now who need help and who are homeless. “That’s a big number for Walterboro. We need a property. As soon as possible!” she said, on Tuesday. “We have the backing of our county and city leaders. We just need public support. We have been questioned about our sustainability, but we know we have solid and full-time volunteers who can run this shelter without personnel costs coming from taxpayer dollars,” she said.
The local group has a vision to operate a shelter, offering a large group transitional home, with temporary tenants who are working to get their lives together. Herndon said a lot of people are currently living in hotels and motels in Walterboro, because of a lack of affordable housing. For now, In His Name- Colleton is working with the Lowcountry Continuum of Care, an agency that offers financial help to cover rent costs for people in need.
“Living in a hotel takes all of your money. There’s no extra money for planning, for long term living, for food, personal items, and other necessities, ” she said. “The purpose of the shelter is an overnight, short term stay. Some people don’t want long term help. They want a shower and a meal. However, there are other people who want to get their GED, get job skills and get housing. That’s where transitional housing comes into play,” she said.
For now, the group is actively providing Colleton’s homeless community with food, clothing, and hygiene needs. They have a main office located on Wichman St. for people to come and figure out where they need to go. “Do we need to refer them to a shelter out of the county? Do they have a home but they need a job or food or clothes to get a job? This is what we work on,” she said. “We are open.”
To reach In His Name-Colleton, call 843-217-5661 or email email@example.com .