Shelter for homeless women and children now open

Published 4:38 pm Friday, February 22, 2019

Women seeking shelter in Beaufort County can now find it through an open door: Open Door Community Center.

Open Door Community Center was officially opened on Friday, and already the homeless shelter for women and children is at capacity, according to Marcia Norwood, Open Door Community Center’s executive director.

“By code, we can sleep 10 people. One is the night manager, so we can have nine women and children,” Norwood said.

There were many more than that who showed up for the opening reception and ribbon cutting held Friday by the Washington-Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce. Despite the cold weather and rain, the turnout was impressive, according to William Taylor, First Bank’s area vice president and president-elect of the Chamber board.

“With this type of weather and this type of turnout, it just speaks to the need for this type of facility in our community,” Taylor said.

The idea for Open Door Community Center had its roots in Beaufort County 360, a leadership team that got its start advocating for early childhood education, but has since expanded to address broader quality-of-life issues in the county. In 2016, an analysis of county needs pointed right at a shelter for homeless women and children.

WARM WELCOME: Marcia Norwood, executive director of the Open Door Community Center in Washington, welcomed guests to the homeless shelter for women and children on Friday. Despite the rain and cold, the event had an exceptionally large turnout.

“After that, a group of interested volunteers started meeting regularly to bring us to today,” Norwood said.

From start to finish, Open Door volunteers donated time, money and construction services to renovate what was formerly an optometrist’s office to a place where women and their children can find shelter. Volunteers are still an important part of Open Door, Norwood said, as they’ve been providing meals for shelter guests through Open Door’s meal train app, which can be found on the shelter’s website:

“That’s been working very, very well,” Norwood said. “We do suggest (volunteers for meals) call the day before to find out how many people they’re cooking for, because that number fluctuates.”

Chamber Executive Director Catherine Glover told the assembled crowd that it took community effort to bring Open Door into existence.

“This is such a need in this community and all of you stepped up,” Glover said.

The cumulative effect of many different hands working to turn the idea into a reality was summarized by Taylor, quoting Mother Teresa: “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”