St. Andrews Optimists launched its 51st year August 13, welcoming as its speaker Ryan Taylor, Executive Director of the Nancy K. Perry Children’s Shelter. The Optimist Club has been a benefactor of the Shelter for many years, supporting the vital work done there.
The Shelter was founded in 1972 and was originally named “Welcome Home, Inc.” The name was eventually changed to honor Nancy K. Perry’s long and steadfast involvement there. It is the oldest shelter of its type in South Carolina.
Children aged anywhere from newborn – the youngest in history was 8 days old – to 18 years old arrive at the Shelter having been referred and placed by DSS. Those children are being removed from households that may be abusive, neglectful, or combative. Some children who arrive have been abandoned altogether. Those children enter a true home that offers love, support, normalcy, education, tutoring, medical attention, counseling, and where relevant, therapy.
The house is managed 24 hours a day by a pair of “house parents,” who alternate working 7 days “on” and 7 days “off” with another couple. Having house parents who actually want to be there makes for a stable situation. In Taylor’s words, “children can be successful if the right environment is created.” In the home-like atmosphere, children assume basic housekeeping responsibilities such as cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, and making their beds. In that process, they are taught personal responsibility. All children of school age attend public schools.
The Shelter sometimes takes a proactive position, volunteering to meet with a family undergoing stress, to try to work out a solution that will prevent the child/children from having to be removed. In that scenario, the Shelter then becomes a safe haven if the household situation becomes untenable.
There is a great need for volunteers who can be inserted into a variety of roles. The Shelter also benefits from donations, both financial and material. The material needs are listed on the www.nkp4kids.org website.
Pictured are Optimist Vice President Larry Blosser, and Ryan Taylor, who received a copy of the Optimist Creed.