“By the grace of God we’re still here,” said Dr. Eva Wooten, president of the Kirk Healing Center for the Homeless, during Saturday’s 8th Annual Liberty County Humanitarian Awards Banquet held at the Liberty County Community Complex in Midway. “That’s a blessing.” Wooten said the organization does the work they are spiritually called to do – to assist those in need.
The Kirk Healing Center for the Homeless was established in 2005. In 2006 the KHC gained their 501c3 charity status and continued their mission of helping the homeless community. They provide life skills, housing, clothing and assistance in job training. The non-profit’s founders include Dr. Alicia Kirk, Judy Shippey and Wooten. Today, KHC works with Hinesville Homeless Prevention, the Prison Re-Entry Coalition, the Tri-County Protective Agency, Drug Court, WorkSource for Jobs and law enforcement.
Each year the non-profit hosts a banquet to honor a local person who has dedicated themselves to humanitarian causes. This year, that person was Juvenile Court Judge Linnie L. Darden, III. In 2018, Darden established a family drug treatment court for the Atlantic Judicial District to help families reunite after children have been removed from their homes as a result of a parental drug addiction. He also served as the general counsel for the Kirk Healing Center for the Homeless.
State Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Savannah), who represents District 164, acted as Master of Ceremony for the event. Gospel singer Donna Jackson performed such songs as “You Raise Me Up” and “God Bless the USA.” Speakers included Hinesville Mayor Allen Brown, who commented he remembered the first year the banquet was held, in honor of Gary Dodd, and Hinesville City Council Member Vicky Nelson, who said Darden has always offered her “sound advice.” Other speakers included Bishop Raymond Napper, Vickie Cook and Darden’s nephew, Jason Darden.
Napper said judges should not just interpret the law, but should judge with compassion. He said Darden shows “a lot of compassion.”
“This man has the patience of Job,” Cook said. Cook works with attorneys and the courts. “He carries a huge burden on his shoulders with each and every child,” she said.
Jason Darden gave a family perspective of Judge Darden, saying he was one of the two people in the family the youngsters went to for advice during difficult times. He also praised his uncle’s role as a judge and humanitarian.
“His modus operandi is to relieve human suffering through the administering of justice,” Jason Darden said.
Former Hinesville Mayor Jim Thomas presented Judge Darden with the award.
“He was the person that kept me straight,” Thomas said. Darden also serves as the city of Hinesville’s attorney.
After accepting his award, Judge Darden specifically thanked his father, Linnie Darden Jr., his late mother, Shirley Darden, who died last year, Edna Walthour, for encouraging him to become a judge, and his wife, Bert.
“If I’m a humanitarian, it’s because of a whole team of people,” Judge Darden said. “I couldn’t do the things I do without this team of mine. These people are true humanitarians.”
For more information on the Kirk Healing Center, visit kirkhealingcenter.com.