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Homeless program marks 10 years, announces expansion
Kirk Center 10th anniv
Staff, directors and supporters who attended the Kirk Healing Center for the Homelesss 10th anniversary celebration included, from left, in front, Irving White, Rochelle Darden-Jones and Dr. Alicia Kirk; middle row, the Rev. Dale Thornton, James Fuller, Liberty County Chief Magistrate Melinda Anderson, Carol Beaty and Judy Shippey; in back, Barbara Martin-VanDuser, the Rev. Douglas Harn, Capt. Tasha Martinez, Chaplain Andre Holmes, Tim Beaty, Linda Sachau, and Kim Sachau. - photo by Photo by Annie Torres

"Without shelter, life can be horrendous," said the Rev. Dale Thornton, pastor of First United Methodist Church at the Kirk Healing Center for the Homeless’ 10th anniversary celebration May 17.

It was an evening of reflections and gratitude to God and the center for its board of directors and friends.

Chief Magistrate Melinda Anderson, board chairwoman, served as emcee. She said she sees homeless men and women every day, and they appear to be without hope or purpose. But she said she is thankful to sit with the KHC board because its members are determined to make a difference in their lives.

KHC’s founders, the late Gary Dodd, Judy Shippey, former Hinesville Mayor Jim Thomas and his wife Claudia, the Rev. Nancy Kornegay and Deacon Victor and Dr. Inez Shanks, were honored. Board co-Chairwoman Barbara Martin-VanDuser presented certificates of appreciation. And it was noted that Shippey’s childhood home was the first KHC shelter for homeless women.

A video tribute, "A Boy, a Dream and a Journey," to the memory of Dodd, followed. It chronicled his life, family and legacy as a philanthropist. This was a testimonial of Dodd’s collaboration with Dr. Alicia Kirk in establishing the Kirk Healing Center.

Dodd owned and operated McDonald’s restaurants across southeast Georgia.

Prior to remarks from the center’s founder and CEO, everyone joined in a chorus of "Happy Birthday" to Kirk, who celebrated her 82nd birthday May 20.

In her remarks, Kirk said she appreciated the support from the community, especially the churches.

Kirk said the center has been designated by the state as a Re-entry Prisoner Housing provider and talked about the barriers citizens encounter after years of incarceration.

She said they are often released with nothing but the clothing on their back, and face health and mental issues that may not have been addressed in prison.

She pleaded for the board of directors to assist her to ensure that former prisoners are welcomed back into society, emphasizing their need for jobs and opportunity to prove their self-worth.

In her closing, Kirk announced the acquisition of a fifth house for the homeless program. That increases the center’s ability to house 30 homeless men and women on any given day.

She also said the center is working to transform its mission toward rehabilitation, giving purpose to homeless and poverty stricken people who feel lost.

The closing prayer was given by the Rev. Douglas Harn, host pastor, Victory Assembly of God. The church’s social hall had been transformed into a banquet room by KHC case managers Linda Sachua, Rochelle Jones and Tasha Martinez.

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