MYRTLE BEACH—For a homeless person, something as basic as a hot shower and clean clothes can make a huge difference in their lives, granting a sense of dignity that life on the streets often strips away.
The growing homeless population along the Grand Strand will have access to both next year, when Catholic Charities opens the latest branch of Clean of Heart. The popular ministry, which offers laundry services for the homeless, opened in Columbia in 2011 and has served hundreds of men and women.
The new site is currently under construction and is located adjacent to New Directions for Men on Osceola Street. New Directions is an established agency working with the local homeless population and will provide an ideal base for the outreach.
Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone blessed the new building during a ceremony on Dec. 4. Local advocates for the homeless, Catholic Charities personnel and construction workers attended. Deacon Dan Powers, executive director of Catholic Charities, read Scripture and described the mission of Clean of Heart.
“It is important we recognize this ministry as an action of God,” he said. “This is a ministry of dignity. For the staff of Clean of Heart, it is a chance to connect with and encounter Christ through the people they serve, and we truly also hope those who come here to be served feel they have encountered Christ.”
Bishop Guglielmone said the service offered by Clean of Heart is a way for people to carry out Jesus’ work on earth.
“Helping the less fortunate and the vulnerable is an important part of our relationship with God,” he said. “Will we solve all of their problems by providing clean clothes or a shower? No, but we can help them in that small way. We can offer God’s love to those who are struggling.”
The new building was given by a local donor who wants to remain anonymous. Funds still need to be raised for the necessary equipment such as washers and dryers.
Once the building is finished, staff members and volunteers will be trained to run the facility. Deacon Powers said the goal is to serve clients by late spring or early summer 2018.
Studies have estimated that at any given time, several hundred men and women in Myrtle Beach are homeless, without access to any sort of permanent shelter. Many are people drawn to the area because of the beach, or in search of jobs in the tourism industry that too often are temporary or seasonal.
Deacon Powers hopes the ministry will have an impact on the lives of homeless teens, a population that has been growing rapidly in recent years. Some of the youth are left behind when family members move on to find other seasonal work, some are runaways and others are left on the streets when they age out of the foster care system.
Miscellany/Christina Lee Knauss: Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone, center, blesses the still-under-construction Clean of Heart facility in Myrtle Beach.