LAKE WYLIE — Unlike the many teed golf balls Oct. 14, child homelessness can be a bit of a moving target. But as long as there are local children without a place to call home, Lake Wylie/Clover Mayday Project will take its hacks.
“It’s opened my eyes,” said board member R.J. Phillips. “I can’t believe what’s going on in our community and the needs our community has.”
Mayday began when a committee of five formed to tackle homelessness in the Clover School District. They didn’t know much about the issue, but knew how to host a golf tournament. This year’s event is Oct. 14 at River Hills Country Club. It’s the only fundraising event on the group’s calendar. Last year’s tournament netted $23,000.
Identifying homeless children isn’t always easy. Sometimes there’s no answer for the address line on a school sign-up sheet. Other times it may come up as students lack basic needs. So homeless numbers vary. There were 92 homeless students in the district as of the last day of school this spring, said Mayday board member Jay Moore. Now there are 30, but the group expects that number to grow. When the group reached out this summer to the York district, the estimate was 50 students there.
“They really don’t know sometimes,” Moore said.
Phillips said he understands why school social workers have a difficult task. Mayday’s effort isn’t to single out students, but to help as many as possible with money for outings, necessities and contacts with schools like York Technical College.
“They don’t want to be singled out,” Phillips said. “I wouldn’t want to be singled out.”
Pinning down a number isn’t the main goal. The group is “confident, based on past history, that it’ll never be zero,” Moore said. While it donates to groups like a reading program through the River Hills Lions Club, horse riding program for special needs children and other area nonprofits, the focus is connecting students with employment or educational opportunities once they graduate.
“That’s a major step in what we’re trying to get done,” Moore said. “Even getting them over just to talk with them, Mayday money would go to that.”
This school year marks the first time partnering with York students, in addition to Clover. Partnerships also are forming with local businesses and residents. In a recent three-week stretch, the group received $13,000 in donations. That’s close to the group’s entire first-year budget, without yet holding its golf tournament.
In its third year hosting the tournament, Mayday is counting on about 120 golfers to keep them between the financial fairways.
“We’ll be able to do basically what we have done,” Moore said.