Most East Coast homeless teens, runaway, and throwaway youth may begin their journey in the Boston/New York/Washington corridor or may eventually even wind up in Fort Lauderdale or Key West. But smack dab in the middle of the more than 1,000 mile journey down the Eastern Seaboard is Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Many teens will land here looking for employment, the beach and an escape from the harsh living in the outdoor winters of the Northeast.
Founded in 2000, Project Lighthouse Sea Haven is founded and under the direction of David (photos) and it has a mission to form alliances (Passport for Life) with fellow travelers, fellow pilgrims who are on “the journey of life” to find themselves and their true home. Many of the teens (ages 13 – 21) have been rejected, cast aside or have run away from home for various reasons. Most have experienced some type of childhood abuse by parents, step-parents or live-in mates.
The sunny spot in this beach city is David, his passionate leadership and the “Davidisms” that sprinkle the walls of the day-shelter. Upon arrival, David and his team members John and Erin will work with anyone that is serious about wanting help. In just hours a teen can receive food, water, a shower, clothing for job interviews, help with filling out job applications, an original birth certificate, I.D. and Social Security Card. They’ll even throw in free wheels (photo - refurbished bicycles).
David, a surfer, a world-traveler backpacker and originally from California mixes beach youth culture with a healthy blend of folksy wisdom, counseling and a professional agency atmosphere to turn kids around. His easy street talk, cool tattoos and compassion for young people lets any teen know that they are not visiting a stuffy social service agency. This place is real, radical and makes one feel understood. Also, volunteers like Kaleb and Jarred (photos) help infuse life into the group’s art and music department where personal expression can facilitate self-discovery.
So what’s the Passport for Life? David supplies each person upon entering their very own Project Lighthouse passport modeled after the one he uses for international travel. The passport gives the bearer “10 rules of the road,” a common path, the shortest distance, a space for “family allies,” and many pages are reserved for passport stickers that validate their learning and success on the road. Traviln’ on the road with no destination? Need assistance? Go and meet trekkers David, Erin, John, Jarred and Kaleb. They will be strength for the journey.
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