Instilling a Sense of Hope During a Single Day in Myrtle Beach
by Melissa LaScaleia
Sheila Karsevar is no stranger to entrepreneurial pursuits or following her passions. She has owned her own business as a Reliv Ambassador in the health and wellness industry for twenty-three years. She was so successful that sixteen years ago, her husband, Norm retired from his college coaching career and joined her as a partner.
Several years ago, she was searching for ways to make a change in her Myrtle Beach community.
“I love gathering people, having fun, and organizing things,” Sheila says. “And I’ve always loved kids of all ages. It hurts my heart when I see so many children feeling so little hope that they are turning to drugs or suicide as a solution. It felt to me like around the nation, we were losing our children.
“In November 2014, I saw a message online about Joyce Myer Ministry and I started to cry. I didn’t know why I was crying, so I began to pray to understand. Suddenly, I had a vision of a flyer with information on it of the organization I would eventually start— A Day of Hope For Children in Need. It was a very clear vision, and a very clear direction.”
With her new mission, Sheila was ready to get to work.
“I initially thought my husband wouldn’t be supportive because I’m involved in so many things,” she says. “But when I told him about it, he said, ‘Wow, that sounds really cool!’ I felt then that this was going to be very big.”
A Day Of Hope is an event that is held in Myrtle Beach before school starts in August. On this day, children who are in need of assistance (you must pre-register), will receive free haircuts, backpacks filled with school supplies, brand new shoes and new socks, and a big canvas bag of supplies for the home, like toilet paper, hand soap, and laundry soap.
“We fill that bag with things that food stamps don’t cover,” Sheila explains, “but are essential for wellbeing.”
Children also receive vision and dental exams and treatments, as well as lunch. The last component— their feet are washed by volunteers in a symbolic reenactment of the Bible story of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples.
“We chose this act of reverence and honor to show these children an additional gesture of love,” says Sheila. “But it is only if the children are open to it. They still receive shoes and socks regardless. The point is that the volunteers are connecting with and loving on these kids. The day is about the community coming together in unity to support these children and inspire hope in them.”
“What the children hear throughout the day is that they are loved and created for a purpose,” she continues. “That is the heart of this day— that they are loved. They are being appreciated and valued.”
In the fall of 2014, Sheila had been attending a variety of networking meetings when A Day of Hope was born. She organically began to share her vision at those meetings, and soon doors were opening to make that vision a reality.
“There are so many children walking around with no hope, no resources, and nowhere to turn,” she says. “I think people can understand this need in our community, and seeing that they can do something tangible to make a difference, are willing to.
“Every year, it was: how is this going to happen? And as I was out and about networking, people would say to me something like, ‘My company wants to get involved in giving back to the community, do you have any ideas?’ So I would share with them about A Day of Hope.”
Little River Medical Center volunteered all of their medical services. There are a myriad of hair stylists and local salons involved.
“We have around 200 volunteers that help us,” Sheila says. “And between 40-50 different services that are involved in one way or another, whether it’s from being there the day of, or donations of supplies or services. I have 337 volunteers on my list, and it grows monthly. So it is truly the community coming together to help.”
The program is now in its fifth year. Since its inception in 2015, Sheila estimates that they have served approximately 250 children yearly.
Pre-registration for children is required, as the supplies are reserved for them individually. If they cannot attend the event, they can still pick up their supplies. Under Sheila’s watchful eye, there is no waste. Anything that is left over is donated to Fostering Hope or schools most in need.
“It doesn’t matter peoples’ religious beliefs or backgrounds,” she says. “This is just a day to serve the children and support them— to bring a smile to their faces and hope to their hearts.
We have people volunteering from all different backgrounds. It’s a blessing for all all-around.”
So what’s next for Sheila and A Day of Hope?
“In the past few weeks I’ve had five different people say that we need to make this nation-wide. I agree. I feel like the way is being paved to bring this across the country. That would be incredible.”