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The 500 block of South Edisto Avenue, in the Rosewood area of Columbia, is filled with young professionals who consider each other family.

Resident Julie McCaulley befriended her neighbor, Mike Holden, but started calling him by his house number since her husband’s name is also Mike.  Eventually, that habit caught on, and other neighbors started greeting each other by house name: “Hey, 501.”  “Hey, 502.”  “Oh, hey, 503!”

In the last several years, the neighbors have became a very closely knit crew of friends.

“We’re a block family,” McCaulley explained.  “We take care of each other, watch each other’s dogs, cook out at each other’s houses, have backyard fires together.”

“We don’t even call each other–if someone’s car is in the driveway, we know we can just walk over and knock on the door,” added Holden.

Last year, guests filled a van full of Christmas gifts to take to women and children who reside at the Women’s Shelter. (Photo supplied by Julie McCaulley)

After the flood in 2015, the 500 block banded together to throw a backyard party fundraiser and collected over $1,000 to donate to families in need.  The following year as the holidays approached, they found themselves wanting to do something together to help others around the holidays.  “None of us have kids or a lot of people to buy gifts for at Christmas,” explained McCaulley.

McCaulley and Holden said the “matriarch” of the 500 block is their neighbor Debbie McDaniel, who is also the owner of clothing consignment stores Revente, Revente’s Second Chances, and Sid & Nancy.  For years, McDaniel has donated part of her stores’ proceeds to domestic violence victim services such as shelters.  “There a lot of people who donate to kids’ charities around Christmas time, but we feel like women living in shelters get looked over this time of year,” Holden said.

The Women’s Shelter is an independent, non-profit agency. It has evolved over the last 30 years from providing basic emergency shelter for homeless women in Columbia, into a multifaceted organization that now serves the Midlands with comprehensive programming. Dedicated staff, volunteers, and licensed professionals work together to provide a comprehensive program to an average of 90 women each year. Residents may participate in this program for up to two years.

Last Christmas, residents of the 500 block approached their friend Becca Savage and asked if she would host a benefit for the Women’s Shelter. Savage is the owner of Foxfield Bar and Grille, located at 406 Howard Street, in the Rosewood neighborhood.

“I said yes, of course, because they asked me, and they’re regular customers.  This is their neighborhood hangout,” said Savage.  “It was a huge success last year, and I was happy to do it with them again.”

That’s right – Edisto Avenue’s 500 block family is banding together again to throw another fundraiser.  This year, their second annual 500 Block Benefit for The Women’s Shelter will take place on Sunday, December 10, 2017. The event will run from 3 to 6 p.m. Sunday at Foxfield Bar and Grille.

The event will feature live music from McKenzie Butler, Slim Pickens, and The Duncan Sims Band.  The bands offered to perform for free, so that all monetary donations would be directly given to the Women’s Shelter instead of paying for entertainment.  

This year will be the second year Rosewood neighborhood residents banded together to raise money for the Women’s Shelter. (Photo supplied by Julie McCaulley)

The neighbors asked local businesses to items and gift cards for a raffle, which will include prizes from Adventure Carolina, Motor Supply, Cock-N-Bull, Sundara Soul Creations, The Local Buzz, Vestique, Historic Columbia, and Coates Cakes.  Historic Columbia also donated free passes to the women at the Shelter.

Josh Streetman, the bar manager at Motor Supply Co. Bistro, is also a resident of the 500 block.  Streetman was able to get George Dickel Tennessee Whiskey to donate a case of whiskey to the event, which he will use to make specialty cocktails for the event.  100% of the specialty cocktail sales will be donated to the Women’s Shelter.  A well-known, award-winning mixologist, Streetman promises his drinks will be “on point” this weekend.

“I’m stoked to be a part of the event,” said Streetman.  “I’m looking forward to good food music and friends for a worthwhile endeavor.”

Additionally, Congaree Milling Company donated grits, and Coates Cakes donated cookies.  Barbecue plates will be sold to raise donations for the shelter, as well as boiled peanuts prepared by 500 block resident Anderson Steadman.  Foxfield’s normal kitchen menu will be shut down so that all food sales can be donated to the Women’s Shelter.  “You couldn’t ask for anything better than what Foxfield is doing for us,” said Holden.

Foxfield will host multiple musical groups again at this years event. (Photo supplied by Julie McCaulley)

The 500 block residents already fulfilled the wish lists of the twenty-seven residents at the Women’s Shelter’s, including wish lists from the women’s children.  “It’s pretty sad, when you look at some of the things on their wish lists,” Holden said.  “One of the women…just wanted non-slip shoes she can wear to work.  Why can’t we make that happen?”  Holden said other women at the shelter wanted new shoes and clothes that they could wear to job interviews.

“The woman I’m sponsoring just asked for running shoes and a Bible,” McCaulley added.  “One of the women’s babies is too big for their bassinet, so someone is buying him a crib to sleep in.”

Dana Vincent, another resident of the 500 block, has also helped put the event together.  “It makes me want to cry, thinking about how much they need.”

“The Women’s Shelter was founded on community involvement, and we are so grateful and humbled when the community rallies with us in our effort  to serve women in crisis,” said Angie Whitehead, the program director at the Women’s Shelter. “The Rosewood 500 block neighbors are an amazing group of movers and shakers  who really know how to make things happen…We couldn’t do what we do without people like them who believe in us and have a passion to serve others.”

For the 500 block, community service is not just a one-time experience; it’s a way of life.  “We believe that when you see these kind of problems in the community, you should take it upon yourself to help fix them,” said Holden.  “Neighborhoods should help take care of other people in the community.”

The neighbors in the 500 block have already stepped in to sponsor the women and children of the shelter and will bring specific wish list items to present to the Women’s Shelter at this event. Folks who still want to help are encouraged not only to come and enjoy the event, but to also bring pre-purchased Comet bus passes to donate to the Women’s Shelter.  

Guests are also encouraged to bring wrapping paper, Scotch tape, and bows.  Donated children’s items will be taken to the shelter to be gift-wrapped by the female residents, who will then give them to their children.

“We need people to come enjoy the drinks and barbecue with us, because all the money is going to be donated to the shelter,” said McCaulley.  “Visa gift cards or gift cards to grocery stores or places like Wal-Mart are still needed.”

For the 500 block, they still feel they can do more to help out the community.  The residents have decided that in 2018, they would also like to do a summer event.  “People need help year round, not just at Christmas time,” said Vincent.  “We’re all just regular, hard-working people who want to give back to the community we live in.”

For more details or to connect with the event planners, check out the event’s Facebook page here.

Featured photo: Foxfield Bar & Grille owner Becca Savage stands behind her bar with 500 block residents and event planners Julie McCaulley, Mike Holden, and Dana Vincent.

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