GWEN WOODY- Director/Founder:


Gwen Woody wears a little gold anchor on a chain around her neck. She say that because of the dreams and visions God gives her, she needs something to “keep her grounded.” That’s what the anchor, a gift from her son, does for her.

Forming a Vision

“When God speaks to your heart and shows you something that needs to be done, then its your responsibility to do it. It is a calling and I do not argue with God.” Gwen Woody

Living most of my adult life in my home-state of North Carolina, I married young, had two children, owned and successfully operated a variety of businesses with my husband. Then life just seemed to fall apart. Doctors found an 11 pound malignant tumor in my chest. It wasn’t long before I had gone through a painful divorce and had lost everything I had worked so hard for. I moved to Myrtle Beach South Carolina to spend my remaining days painting seascapes. But then came the loss of my daughter to cancer. Feeling pretty beat up, I often asked myself “Why did I live for this?”

Throughout this time, needy individuals and families were increasingly crossing my path - people who had come to the beach seeking better fortune, but instead ending up penniless and homeless. Sometimes I’d take them into my home. 

Then God literally gave me a vision and my choice was to accept it for what it was...a clear call from the Lord, or to pretend that I hadn’t really seen what I’d been shown.  I actually heard a voice say “My daughter, what would you do with $10,000.00?” After assuring myself that I was in fact alone, it seemed obvious that I was hearing from God and my response was “What would you have me do, Lord?” 

Almost immediately I found myself standing on the upper floor of what appeared to be two-story unfinished A-framed building. I was looking down unto a lower floor and watching adults talking, sharing and taking care of each other, the children and younger folk gathered around. I was convinced that God was directing me to establish a shelter for homeless women and their children. 

Finally, I was able to see beyond the roller-coaster years of success and disappointment, joy and pain. God had always had a plan for me. The extent of what I would be taking on hadn’t really impacted me as yet, but I was at peace to understand that I fit right into His purpose.  

When we started in 1994, there was no organization addressing the special needs of the homeless in Horry County, SC. But I was led to participate in the excellent training offered by the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions (AGRM), and in 1998 Coastal Rescue Mission, Inc. officially acquired it’s IRS 501 (c)3 status and continued serving and strengthening the fragile families of Horry County as a non-profit.

© Coastal Rescue Mission 2018