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Area homeless and veterans remembered
web 0401 Kirk Center donation
Local Lockheed Martin employees donate food and cash to the Kirk Healing Center for the Homeless Thursday. From left are KHC CEO Dr. Alicia Kirk, program coordinator Charli Shearer, volunteer Isabelle Harris, board chairman Sylvester Harris, board member Barbara Martin, Vietnam Veterans of America local chapter Vice President Paul Spence and Mike Passmore with Lockheed Martin. - photo by Denise Etheridge

With the needy and forgotten veterans in mind, Lockheed Martin Readiness and Stability Operations employees from Fort Stewart donated 360 pounds of canned and nonperishable food and $276 to the Kirk Healing Center for the Homeless on Thursday at the center’s K&K Thrift Shop off Highway 84.
The center’s founder and CEO, Dr. Alicia Kirk, and KHC program coordinator Charli Shearer, board chairman Sylvester Harris, his wife and center volunteer Isabelle Harris, board members Barbara Martin and Judy Shippey and Vietnam Veterans of America local chapter Vice President Paul Spence graciously accepted the donation.
“Hopefully we can do this (donate) elsewhere, too,” RSO site maintenance manager Mike Passmore said. “The economy is not great.”
Passmore and Lockheed Martin RSO environmental safety/ISO lead auditor Dale Morningstar delivered the donation on behalf of their co-workers. Lockheed Martin’s local RSO office made a donation to Manna House and Gabriel’s House last year.
A significant number of the center’s clients are veterans, Kirk said, a fact not lost on Passmore and Morningstar. Passmore retired after 22 years in the Army and Morningstar received an honorable discharge after 16 years in the service.
“It’s so gratifying to see the different companies stepping up to help the homeless,” Kirk said.
Spence said many homeless veterans suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and have a rough time “integrating back into society.” PTSD makes “connecting” with veterans difficult, but not impossible, he said.
“My vision is that we never, ever reject our veterans of any era,” Spence said. He said these veterans should be accepted as they are and not shunned because they suffer from “a disease of the mind.”
Spence admitted he, too, has suffered from PTSD, but because he is blessed with an understanding spouse and has received other support, he was able to recover from his wartime trauma, he said.
“One generation of veterans should not forsake another,” he added.
Shearer said the community can help the homeless by having community leaders incarcerated in the center’s second annual charity jail. Charitable “arrests” will be made Saturday, April 9, between 10 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., she said.
“You can donate $50 to have someone arrested,” she said. The arrestee must then match the donation to be released, Shearer explained. The jail will be located at the thrift shop. Vendors, horse rides and other activities also are planned for the fundraiser. All “warrants” and donations are required before 5 p.m. Friday, April 8.
For more information, call 432-7360.

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