Dr. Alicia Kirk, one of the founders of the Kirk Healing Center for the Homeless passed away Easter Sunday April 12. Co-founder and long-time friend Judy Shippey said Dr. Kirk spent 20 years as a practicing psychologist in Australia before relocating to Hinesville to be near her children.
“She had operated homeless centers in Australia and her vision of helping the homeless followed her to Hinesville,” Shippey said. “I first met her at the First United Methodist Church of Hinesville soon after her arrival.”
Shippey said they became friends and Kirk shared he plan about helping the homeless in Hinesville.
“That was about 2004,” Shippey said.
With the help of founding members Dr. Eva Wooten, Victor Shanks, Shippey, Rev. Nancy Kornegay, James and Claudia Thomas, Jeffery N. Osteen and the late Gary Dodd, Dr. Kirk’s vision of the Kirk Healing Center came to fruition. And in 2005, KHC earned its 501-c3 charity status.
“Dr. Kirk’s dream of the Center was that it not only shelter the body, but that it help all areas of a person’s life,” Shippey said. “Thus the Center’s services included room and board (residents later began to pay a rent based on their income), and counseling in finding employment, completing GED requirements, helping with health issues, and classes designed to help the homeless with life skills. All this was provided in a very spiritual atmosphere; residents were encouraged to attend church and there were Bible study classes offered also.”
Shippey said through the generosity of the late Gary Dodd a men’s house was set up and in 2007 Dr. Kirk and Dodd purchased Shippey’s former home to use as a women’s house.
Liberty County Commission Chairman Donald Lovette, said Dr. Kirk was a friend as well as a community servant.
“She was tireless in her efforts to invest in the lives of those who needed a helping hand,” he said “Although constrained physically, she used her passion and compassion to motivate this community to be our brother’s keeper.”
Lovette said Kirk donated her time, talent and finances to the healing center.
Dr. Kirk opened a Thrift Shop in 2010 on Highway 84 to help fund the healing center. KHC clients who had yet to find employment worked at the store.
In 2010 the KHC started the annual Humanitarian Banquet to honor those who assisted the organization or community.
In more recent years the purpose of KHC Shifted to become a transition period resource for recently paroled prisoners.
“There are no words to express what Dr. Alicia Kirk meant to our family,” Rochelle Cass Darden said. “My brother advised Dr. Kirk on so many legal issues, and when I came to Georgia seven years ago she became my mentor and one of my closest confidants. Dr. Kirk was a true blessing to me at a time when my mother was declining in health and became somewhat of surrogate mother to me, after my mother passed away. On behalf of my father Linnie Darden Jr., Attorney Linnie L. Darden III, my sister in law Bert Darden and myself, thank you Dr. Kirk for blessing us with your friendship, and for all you meant to the citizens of Liberty County and beyond.”
“I had the pleasure of working with Mrs. Kirk during my time as the public relations manager of the City of Hinesville,” Krystal Hart, of Sparrow Communications said. “Our relationship began with a simple request for a proclamation nearly 10 years ago. Next, we began working to raise funds for the homeless through various events, programs, and venues. The final time I worked with her was to recognize Mr. James Thomas, Jr. for his eight years of service as mayor of the City of Hinesville. In each of those encounters, I enjoyed learning important lessons from Mrs. Kirk: Be kind. Be genuine. Be committed. Be thankful. Through all of her acts of service, her spirit will live on in Liberty County and beyond. I am grateful to have known her and proud to have her legacy as part of Liberty County’s history.”