The Kirk Healing Center’s Board of Directors has named Hinesville resident Gale Curtis Dent as its 2014 Humanitarian of the Year.
According to a news release, Dent is being honored “for her lifelong work as an educator, nurse and community leader.”
“I am absolutely surprised,” Dent said. “I feel honored that even one person would submit my name, much less more than that.”
A retired nurse, Dent has been active in the Liberty County community ever since moving here with her husband in 1985.
“I love it now,” she said of Hinesville, “but I wasn’t so sure when I got here — it was a huge culture shock from Virginia Beach.”
A Tennessee native, Dent said she moved up and down the East Coast throughout her husband’s career as a military officer. The two also spent time in Europe before landing at Virginia Beach, where her husband was an ROTC instructor at Norfolk State University before retiring from the military. Dent said it was her husband’s post-military career that brought the couple to Hinesville nearly 30 years ago.
Dent served in a variety of capacities throughout her nursing career, though she said that most of her time was spent in critical-care units in hospitals. She also spent time teaching nursing assistants and preparing them for the Georgia State Board.
Currently, Dent serves as a Sunday school teacher and facilitator for the Ladies Connection women’s ministry at Connection Church in Hinesville.
Dent’s newest project is the Unique Puzzle Pack, a group that offers support to parents of autistic children as well as people, teachers and professionals who are involved in the care of autistic children, she said.
Dent said her own life experiences motivated to start an autism-support group.
“I’d been involved with several children with autism and their parents at church, and just in my life in general,” she explained. “I had housed a young boy and his mother for a year in my home. He has Asperger’s, and I had a grandchild who was born with autism.”
Dent said she approached the Liberty County Board of Education last September about starting the group. She said that once LCSS Chief Academic Officer Mary Alexander approved her proposal, Dent started working with the board and eventually presented the idea to a group of parents. She said the group officially started in January, and they haven’t looked back since.
Dent said the group’s name is based on the symbol for autism. The Unique Puzzle Pack meets on the second Tuesday of every month at Connection Church in Hinesville.
Dent will receive her award at the Kirk Healing Center’s annual honors dinner, scheduled for Oct. 2 at Club Stewart.
“A long-time supporter of KHC, Gale exemplifies all that we stand for — the joy of community service, the satisfaction of helping others to grow and the reward of having faith in God,” said Dr. Alicia Kirk, founder and CEO of the Kirk Healing Center.
“It’s an honor,” Dent said. “I hope that I can be able to stand up to the honor and to be a blessing to people.”