The other day I was at the Community Kitchen where a lot of the low-income and homeless in Myrtle Beach stop to get lunch. Everything was how it always was whenever I went by. The entire kitchen said a prayer, stood in line, and then everyone was served some good food. That day, we had lima beans, mashed potatoes and gravy, roasted chicken, salad, and I got cake, but there was also pies and cookies. Before the meal though, when I was standing in the line, there was this lady walking around with a sad look on her face, showing everyone a piece of paper. On it, there was a picture of her sister, who had come up missing. And, she was looking around trying to find out if anyone there had seen her.
The nice woman’s name was Desiree, and she was looking for a missing woman named Jennifer who was thought to be homeless in Myrtle Beach (the picture above is the one that Desiree was showing around to everyone). I could see the pain in her eyes as she would show person to person the photos and, when they said that they didn’t see Jennifer, or shook their heads “No…”, she seemed to become more and more hurt that she couldn’t find her family member. My heart hurt seeing this. So, I took a picture of the photo, and told myself that I’d write a blog article to spread the word about Jennifer being missing. The next day, I called Desiree, and told her that I was a blog writer for the homeless in Horry County, and that I felt I could be of some help. But, to my surprise, Jennifer had already been located, and Desiree seemed so relieved and happy over the phone. I was happy for her.
Myrtle Beach is a place where one of the most horrific missing persons stories happened a few years ago. Many of you may remember the teenager from Rochester, New York, who came up missing in 2009 when she was down here on spring break. If you did not know about this, just look at how ABC News Channel 4 New York described the terrible events that led up to her death. One report from August 2016 reads that young Brittanee Drexel was “abducted, raped, shot to death, and thrown into an alligator infested swamp”. The only way that it was discovered that she died like this was because a prison inmate who was there when it happened came forward with a statement. If he had not, there is a good chance that the mystery of Brittanee’s disappearance still would have been going on today.
Not only the homeless in Horry County, but many other citizens in our immediate society come up missing all the time. For example, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children shows 70 records of missing people for the State of South Carolina as a whole. The thing about missing people is, I don’t think the average person really pays all that much attention to them. That is, of course, until it is one of their family members, friends, neighbors, co-workers or classmates. As a county, as a State, and as a nation, I feel that we should all simply be more aware of what is going on around us. When someone comes up missing, we should ask ourselves “What if that was my sister?” or think “Damn, that could have been my aunt…”
I think many of us have just become selfish as far as being as helpful as we can when it comes to things like this. Some of the folks the other day, for example, when Desiree was showing the pictures of Jennifer around, I could tell that some of them barely even glanced the photo. They just turned in Desiree’s direction quickly, just enough to acknowledge that she was trying to show them the photos. But, before taking just a minute or two to really look at them, they were already saying no, they hadn’t seen her.
God Bless all of you who have read this article and taken what I’ve tried to get across to you to heart. When someone comes up to you asking if you’ve seen someone, stop just for a couple of moments, and really show a little compassion by truly examining the person who they are so desperately trying to find. And, if you have a feeling that a friend or family member of yours may be missing, whether they are homeless in Horry County or not, contact the authorities as soon as possible.