NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A home which supports homeless students at a Charleston County school officially opened its doors to the community Wednesday afternoon.
Project H.O.M.E (Helping Others Mirror Excellence) held a ribbon cutting and dedication ceremony to celebrate Mickey's House.
Mickey's House aims to be a solution for students at R.B. Stall High School dealing with homelessness.
"This ribbon cutting not only opens the door to this home, but it opens the lives of young men that it's going to touch," said North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey. "God Bless them."
According to the 2016 "Point in Time" statewide homeless count, more than 380 South Carolina families experienced homelessness last year, including 759 kids under 18.
The ribbon-cutting was originally scheduled for early September, but was rescheduled due to Hurricane Irma.
With a simple snip by Summey, Charleston County School Board members, and community leaders, Mickey's House officially opened in North Charleston; The first of what people hope will be many to come.
"This is a solution and I believe we can continue to offer something like this if we can come together as a community… rallying people," said Angela Henderson, Project H.O.M.E. Executive Director.
Project H.O.M.E. is focused on finding a solution for homeless youth.
The plan is to have four boys, either Juniors or Seniors at R.B. Stall High School, live in the home until they graduate.
"Anytime you can help someone, especially a youth, get their education… we're here for a reason, to give them a place, but their education is forefront," said Lisa Carey, the house mom.
Carey and her husband, David, are the Mickey's House parents.
Having helped out in youth groups at church for many years, and raised their own children, they thought this was a great opportunity to get involved with.
"Why not?" Carey said. "What else have we got to do besides helping children in need."
Carey said it hasn't been easy though. Since moving into the house in September, they've had to decorate it into a home from top to bottom.
They've also been focused on creating a relationship between the first student, Taylor, who now lives in Mickey's House.
"It was weird at first, but we're still getting to know him," Carey said. "We learn something new every day. Now he's telling me things that he likes, even food items, you don't normally think about that. Now he's comfortable to say, could you buy this at the store? It's been really good working with him."
Henderson said while the Carey's do have outside jobs, Project H.O.M.E. does help support some of the costs associated with the project. However, that doesn't include a mortgage, because that was all paid off.
Many people helped donate to the cause, including a West Virginia woman named Mary "Mickey" Welch, whom the house is named after.
"There are so many homeless people, boys and girls, and they need help," Welch said Wednesday at the ceremony. "Somebody has to start."
While Taylor is the only boy who currently lives in the home, leaders are confident they'll be able to fill the beds shortly.
"We actually had another boy interview today," Carey said.
The "interview" process is also a unique one, focused on seeing if this opportunity is the right fit for the student.
"Instead of interviewing them where maybe they felt intimidated… we allow them to come check us out," Henderson said. "You come, and you see, if we're a good fit for you."
Carey said while they're still putting finishing touches on the house, she wants to get pictures of the students placed throughout the home shortly.
She also hopes to create something visual to show the success of the project in the future.
"I would like to have a picture album that stays in the home here year after year, so you can see that this is the group that started," Carey said. "You'll have a little bit about their life, and a little bit about their story because everyone has a story."
Project HO.M.E. and its other partners are looking to build a similar home for girls in the future, and more homes for homeless students in general.
"Our goal is to have something like this on every [school] bus route," Henderson said.