St. Andrews Optimists heard an update June 14 covering the services currently being provided by Palmetto Place Children’s Shelter. Jill Lawson, Executive Director, also reported a name change underway. The new name will be Palmetto Place Children and Youth Services. Palmetto Place, established in 1977, now operates two locations: a children’s shelter with 30 beds and secondly, a center for unaccompanied youth, with 25 beds. The stated mission is “to provide a safe and supportive environment for children and teens who have faced abuse, abandonment, and/or homelessness.”

Clients frequently come from foster care situations. Combining the efforts of the two houses, Palmetto Place served 199 youth in 2018 and over its 40-plus years, has served over 7,000. For much of that time, there was only one facility. Many of the clients in the unaccompanied youth shelter have aged out of foster care and would otherwise be homeless.

Every young person in Palmetto Place’s care receives individual attention,  counseling, and life coaching  from a social worker. In fact, the largest item in the $1.45 million annual budget is for staff salaries since so much attention is one-on-one. Funding sources are separated by facility. The Children’s Shelter relies on corporate and local individual donations. The shelter for unaccompanied youth is entirely DSS-funded.

The primary aim is to establish a safe place where youth can count on consistency, safety, security, and a hopeful path forward. Clients can remain housed through age 21. St. Andrews Optimists have supported Palmetto Place for several years through funding assistance and for on-site interaction with the youth. While supporting youth activities through financial contributions to more than 20 donor recipients, St. Andrews Optimists are proactively seeking opportunities to meet more beneficiaries face-to-face. Palmetto Place has great potential for that initiative. Also partnering with Palmetto Place, Midlands Tech offers preferential admission to the shelter’s youth. Today, seven of the 25 residents are Midland Tech students.

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