New Day on Mill celebrated its fifth year of giving hope to the homeless May 15.
Volunteers, staff, board members and residents of New Day beat the heat to commemorate the organization’s progress during the past five years.
“What can I say, time flies,” Harriet Reid, program manager at New Day on Mill, told the crowd.
New Day on Mill is a transitional housing program for women and children who are homeless. The purpose of the program is to assist residents in overcoming obstacles to become self-sufficient community members.
New Day offers these residents a place to live for three to six months while they attend school, find work and save money to move to a permanent home.
“We’ve always been so blessed to have such wonderful people to help us,” Reid said. “We give our residents hope. Even if it’s not easy and even if times are still hard, once they leave us they have hope and the tools to make it through the rough patches.”
New Day also offers classes on life skills like budgeting, exercise, personal safety, housekeeping and car care.
Reid said the program has developed a strong volunteer base since it began.
“We’ve had more community involvement than I could have ever imagined,” she said. “There have been so many people in the community willing to help out.”
Because of those volunteers, Reid said New Day has been able to renovate cottages on site, add a laundry room for residents to use and install central heating and cooling.
“Camden is just such a big-hearted place. I can’t say thank you enough to everyone who made this Stpossible,” Reid said.
As far as looking to the future, Reid said she would love to eventually see another shelter in Kershaw County to be able to accommodate more people.
“Men need transitional housing, too, and right now we just don’t have the resources to offer that,” she said.
Nichole Brown, a former resident of New Day, addressed the audience and thanked everyone involved in getting the program off the ground.
“I was homeless with a child,” she said. “I tried to live with my dad, and then I lived in a hotel. I heard about New Day and filled out an application,” she said.
“Staying here really helped me gain stability and encouragement,” she said. “The life skills class helped me become who I’m supposed to be. They truly offered me hope. They were there to support me. I’m so thankful for everyone who made this program possible.”
Since leaving New Day, Brown has gotten married, is doing well, and plans to move into a new Habitat for Humanity house this summer with her family.
United Way Director Donny Supplee said the ground was laid for New Day on Mill back in 2000 when the United Way Housing Partnership became the Kershaw County Housing Partnership.
“We didn’t make a new organization as far as a nonprofit but we did organize in such a way where it was a community effort, not just a United Way effort,” he said.
The goal of this partnership, Supplee said, was to deal with three things: homeless housing, affordable housing and home repair.
“In 2005 a family donated $200,000 to purchase the cottages that make up New Day on Mill,” Supplee said.
The building needed renovations to make them livable, so churches and other organizations came together to make it happen.
“Has five years come around really fast? Yes. We’ve served more than 50 families in the past five years. Is that enough? Probably not. Is it a lot better than serving no families? Certainly so. We’re on our way, but we’ve still got a lot to do,” he said.
Church or volunteer groups interested in taking on projects for New Day may call 432-5456 for more information.