Teen shelter running out of room after first year


The Horry County Teens and Infants Shelter Home is completing its first year of providing housing and services to young women in crisis.

A woman who was among its early residents says the shelter is already running short of space.

"Billie" has a four-month-old son, Giovonni. She says she was 7 months pregnant and a domestic violence victim when she came to the shelter last year.

"Feeling like I was alone, didn't know which way to turn and I just knew that I had to do something better for me and my son," Billie said.

Billie says she learned some life skills at the shelter, quickly got back on her feet and is now supporting herself with her own house cleaning business.

She says she didn't feel like she had a family before coming to the home, but has one now.

"I got here and found the love of being at home, of being comfortable, of having somebody to talk to."

Shelter founder Lorretta Keeling says 30 young women have gone through the shelter and six babies have been born since it opened last summer. They have all progressed in their own way, she says.

"Every single girl that's come here, thank God, is a success," Keeling said.

Keeling says she intended the home to be for pregnant girls only, but it didn't take long for its mission to expand.

"A month into it, we realized there's nowhere for a girl that wasn't pregnant to go to."

In fact, Keeling says many residents are college students or women in their 20s.

"Their stories are anywhere from domestic violence, parent abandonment, to really just the extreme measures. I've heard stories that I never thought in my life I would hear," Keeling said.

The shelter has a $50,000 annual budget, and the small home in Conway can only accommodate five women at a time.

Billie says Keeling is running out of room.

"The calls come in all the time for girls in need. She needs more space," Billie said.

Keeling says all donations to the shelter are tax-deductible. She says the shelter's greatest needs are for volunteers and appliances, including a washer, dryer, stove and refrigerator. Office supplies, personal hygiene products and clothing for women are also welcome, she says.