Shelter for young mothers scrambles for money to stay open

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Shelter for young mothers scrambles for money to stay open

Published Wednesday, December 22, 2010   |  408 Words  |  

Those who run a Bluffton home for homeless, pregnant teenagers say it might close if they can't raise $11,500 before the end of the year.

Local nonprofit groups and other donors have contributed already contributed about half of the $22,500 needed to keep the Room at the Inn of the Carolinas in Bluffton open after it fell six months behind on its rent. The group must come up with the rest of the funds by Dec. 30 to stay afloat.

The home has a $300,000 annual budget and has been supported mostly by private donors, but they have contributed less during the recession. For example, the group's semi-annual fundraiser in October raised about half of what it had in previous years, president Albert Hodges said.

It also receives funding through grants and the Department of Social Services, but day-to-day operations such as providing meals have decimated the budget, said vice president of program operations Leah Whaley-Holmes.

Room at the Inn provides counseling, classes on childbirth, parenting and life skills, transportation, meals, and shelter for women under 21 who are expecting and have nowhere else to go.

Whaley-Holmes said women who come to the shelter might have been homeless or in foster when they became pregnant or were kicked out of their homes.

The program works to help the mothers find permanent housing and jobs.

The 6,900-square-foot shelter, which opened in 2007, is on five acres off of S.C. 46 near Pritchardville and is owned by the University of South Carolina Beaufort.

Hodges said the university has been a great landlord, even as the organization fell behind on its rent.

"People have been very generous to help us keep our doors open with so many folks feeling pinched," he said. "This Christmas there is still room at the inn for these young mothers."

Five mothers and four children are staying at the shelter that can accommodate 13 people.

"We just remain hopeful because we know we are doing good work and there is a need in this community and this state for the services that we're offering," Whaley-Holmes said.

Deborah Riley, the Lowcountry coordinator for Catholic Charities, is challenging other area groups to match her organization's $5,000 pledge.

"I felt like as a community we needed to come together and see that these young girls stay safe," Riley said.