Living in their cars parked at schools or under tarps in wooded areas, Beaufort County's homeless have taken on a new face.
They are no longer typically single males with substance abuse problems. They are families with children who are school age or younger who have lost their homes. Many are afraid their children will be taken away from them if county and state agencies discover their plight, so they hide, said Mike Green, pastor of The Link, who serves on Beaufort's Community Service Organization steering committee.
"They are intentionally hiding," Green said. "They are scared of police and are hiding in the woods or deserted buildings, and they are suspicious of the government because they don't want to lose their kids or go to jail. Unfortunately the system creates these Catch-22s, and they don't see a way around it."
And there are people trying to find them -- but they're people who want to help.
Area churches and groups including Community Service Organization hope to get a real count of the homeless in order to better evaluate their needs and get them help. Community Service Organization is composed of 35 nonprofit and service agencies that assist those in need in the community, including the homeless. The Everyone Counts event will be held from noon to 4 p.m. Jan. 29 in the Charles Lind Brown Activity Center, 1001 Hamar St., Beaufort.
The homeless will receive free medical treatment from physicians, cosmetologists and dentists, hygiene products, coats, sleeping bags, food and more.
Bluffton Self Help and the Hilton Head Hunger and Homeless Coalition also are sponsoring events. A soup kitchen for the homeless is from noon to 1 p.m. to help promote the count at Self-Help's offices in old town Bluffton. Hilton Head Hunger and Homeless Coalition members will canvass the island for individuals.
Homeless people are encouraged to come and be counted. Since neither the churches nor the community service organization are affiliated with the government, the homeless should have nothing to fear.
"We are trying to motivate people to come," Green said. "This is a safe event. The Department of Social Services will not be there. The police will not be there. This is not the government. This is a group of churches and charities trying to help you. We are not after your children. Hopefully, they will find out what kind of resources are available."
Every two years, the national homeless population is counted through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Point-in-Time Homeless Count. In 2009 -- the last official federal tally of the homeless -- only 17 people were counted as homeless in Beaufort County. Recent counts by the Beaufort County School District show 96 elementary students are homeless.
"Homelessness is a much bigger issue in Beaufort County than most people realize," said Fred Leyda, facilitator with the Beaufort County Human Services Alliance. "Some people just don't believe there are homeless people in Beaufort County. I think if people really understood the level of need, we'd see a lot of people stepping forth to help. Part of the problem is just to make people aware there is a need."
Current estimates by CSO show there are 192 homeless children in Beaufort County, Green said.
HILTON HEAD HADASSAH
Author Joan Leegant will speak about her new novel, "Wherever You Go" at 2 p.m. Sunday in the Congregation Beth Yam social hall. The event is hosted jointly by Congregation Beth Yam Sisterhood, Hilton Head Hadassah and Oseh Shalom Sisterhood. Leegant's novel, which is set in Israel, follows three Americans caught in the vortex of Jewish political and religious extremism. Formerly an attorney, Leegant taught fiction writing at Harvard University for eight years.
NEW HOPE CHRISTIAN CHURCH
New Hope Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) will conclude the church's 88th anniversary at 10 a.m. Sunday. The New Hope Church Family and Pastor Edward Cushingberry Jr. will be featured. The church is at 67 Parris Island Gateway, Burton.
NAZARETH BAPTIST CHURCH
The Pastor's Aid Auxiliary of the Nazareth Baptist Church will celebrate the Pastor's Aid 29th anniversary at 4 p.m. Sunday. The Rev. Dr. Horace Williams of Faith Memorial Baptist Church will speak. The Rev. Leroy Haynes Sr. is pastor. The church is at 133 Seaside Road, St. Helena Island.%09
UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST FELLOWSHIP OF BEAUFORT
The Rev. Tom Schmidt, minister of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Lowcountry in Bluffton, will speak on "Survival of the Fittingest" at 10 a.m. Sunday at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Beaufort. The fellowship meets at the Wardle Family YMCA, 1801 Richmond Ave., Port Royal.
PROVIDENCE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University will be hosted by Providence Presbyterian Church, 171 Cordillo Parkway, Hilton Head Island, starting Monday. Classes are 6:30-8:30 p.m. for 13 weeks in the choir room. Singles, couples and families of all ages and situations are invited. The first lesson is free. Registration is required. To continue, cost is $100 for lifetime materials. Child care is available. To register, please call 843-842-5673.
Details: Joe Patton, 843-384-6232
ST. PETER CATHOLIC CHURCH
St. Peter Catholic Church, 70 Lady's Island Drive, is offering the Catholics Returning Home program for non-practicing Catholics beginning Tuesday at the church on Lady's Island. Anyone who was baptized and confirmed in the Catholic church but no longer attends or rarely attends is invited. The program is from 1-2:30 p.m. for six weeks Tuesdays in the adult education room.
Details: Glenda Brannen, 843-838-7552; Barbara Stanley, 843-525-0994; Theresa Pulliam, 843-524-2604; Deacon Bill Lacombe, 843-982-6240
UNITY IN ACTION FELLOWSHIP OF CHURCHES
Unity In Action will host a Fifth Sunday Revival and Union Week at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Friday. Close-out services begin at 11 a.m. Jan. 30.
Host churches and speakers are: Tuesday, Church of the Harvest Apostolic on St. Helena Island and Apostle Joe Mole III of Vision Ministries in Hampton; Wednesday, Servants of God International Outreach Tabernacle in Grays Hill and Apostle Phoebie Chisolm of Holy Temple Church of Deliverance in Ridgeland; Thursday, Revelatory Ministries of Burton and Apostle Clarence Gadsen of Mountain of Holiness Ministries in Savannah; and Friday, Highest Praise Ministry and Prophet George Simmons of Light of the World Christian Center in Walterboro. The host church on Sunday is Church of the Harvest Apostolic on St. Helena. The speaker is Apostle Jerome Middleton, pastor.
Details: 843-846-6017, 843-838-2889
PROVIDENCE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
Assured by the Word Ministries is starting "Jonah: A Life Interrupted" by Priscilla Shirer. This seven-week, Bible-based study with DVDs is from 10-11:30 a.m. Wednesday at Providence Church, Hilton Head Island. Cost is $15 and includes workbook. To register, call 843-842-5673 or 843-338-2204. The church is at 171 Cordillo Parkway, Hilton Head.
LUNCH HOUR OF POWER
Elder Joe White, associate minister at Jehovah Church of Jesus Christ, will speak from noon-12:45 p.m. Wednesday at the Lunch Hour of Power in Helen Galloway's Memorial Chapel of Chisholm Galloway Home for Funerals, 808 Bladen St., Beaufort.
MACEDONIA BAPTIST CHURCH
Macedonia Baptist Church will celebrate Family and Friends Night and a Pre-Black History Celebration at 7 p.m. Friday at the church, 467 Macedonia Road, Hardeeville (in the Levy community). Pastor Dr. Brenda Singleton of Healing Waters Wesleyan Church in Beaufort will be the guest pastor.
RESURRECTION CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY CHURCH
Resurrection Christian Community Church of Hilton Head Island has joined Great Lakes Region, Churches of God, General Conference. Resurrection has recently moved from meeting at Hilton Head Island High School to its new location at 296 Spanish Wells Road. The church is led by Pastor Len Stubbs Jr. Churches of God, General Conference, is an Evangelical Denomination headquartered in Findlay, Ohio.
Details: 843 689-3625, www.resurrectionccc.org
CANAAN MISSIONARY BAPTIST CHURCH
The music ministry of Canaan Missionary Baptist Church will sponsor a retreat to Orlando, Fla., from March 31-April 2. The adults will visit the Holy Land Experience, and the youth will visit Universal Studios and participate in other activities. The final day to register is March 1. For an itinerary contact Evelyn Carter, 843-846-4115, or Beverly Ferguson, 843-263-8599. The church is at 908 Trask Parkway, Sheldon.
THE CHURCH MOUSE THRIFT SHOP
The Church Mouse Thrift Shop and Girl Scouts in southern Beaufort County are working to recycle, reuse and support. They are collecting unused newspaper coupons; used ink cartridges, cell phones and prescription eyeglasses; plastic bottle tops; box tops for school supplies; and old sneakers. Items may be donated at The Church Mouse Thrift Shop, 19 Dunnigans Alley Suite D, Hilton Head Island.
Details: Phyllis Neville, 843-785-2322