CORRECTION! A story that ran in a recent edition of the Horry Independent newspaper erroneously put July 20 as the date for the groundbreaking. That is wrong! It will be July 22.
By KATHY ROPP
The folks at SOS Care have had such a successful year that a groundbreaking for Phase 2 of Oak Tree Farm in Conway, planned for July 22 at 8:30 a.m., will also signal the beginning of Phase 3, according to Kathi Grace, director of marketing and events.
The 66-acre site, at 600 Medlen Parkway, already has what they are calling a transition house that has been home to five men for a little more than a year now. Phases 2 and 3 will add apartments for 48 more residents, men and women, and a health and wellness center that will provide 10 rooms including a sensory room, exercise room, computer lab, kitchen, medical room, classrooms, game room, offices and more. The health and fitness center is expected to be the hub of the community.
The new apartment buildings will have four apartments with one bedroom for residents who choose to live alone; 16 with two bedrooms and four with three bedrooms.
Grace said they have identified 24 of the next 48 residents and spent the past months preparing them to live alone for the first time.
Grace said they are working to meet all of the roommates’ requests they have received so far.
While this project will meet a great need, the need will continue to be overwhelming with 300 people with autism and intellectual disabilities on a waiting list, according to Grace. They’d like to see six apartment buildings in their final build-out on the 10 acres in Conway.
Grace and her cohorts couldn’t be more excited when they think about the past year.
SOS Care finished first in this year’s Palmetto Giving Day. It is always one of the top events for donations for the agency with a goal of $100,000.
But this year, the group received $321,000 within 48 hours, making it the most profitable nonprofit organization included in Palmetto Giving Day.
“It shocked all of us and we are grateful, and a couple of other foundations have pledged money to building the health and wellness center,” so they already have some funds toward that building.
They have also been approached by a nonprofit group that hopes to create a similar facility in Charleston by rehabilitating an old shopping mall. The local group sees on the horizon the possibility of a partnership with that group.
In other outstanding news for SOS Care, the Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce named the group its Nonprofit of the Year.
Grace and the others couldn’t be more excited about the accomplishments of its current residents.
“It has turned out beautifully,” she said of the lives of the first five residents.
Two have their driver’s licenses and four out of five are working. Two take the bus to their jobs.
“They’ve learned how to cook, how to build an herb garden. They have a fire pit and have a social life around the pit,” she said.
One was a very serious runner and he’s gotten his roommate to walk and run with him, and he ran his first race recently. Two men already identified as future residents have jogged at the Market Common once a week.
She said they’re taking fitness seriously, “so it’s really a joy to watch.”
The new 24 residents have already been taking living classes so they’ll be ready to move into the new apartments, hopefully by the first of 2023, or at least by the spring.
“They’ve got to learn everything about living independently,” Grace said.
Transportation continues to be the group’s biggest problem, so they’re thankful that they are on the CRPTA bus route.
“They’ve really come a long way in 15 months,” she said of the five men living at Oak Tree Farm. “It’s worked. We did it!”