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Their hearts are willing to serve ‘In His Name’

The International Order of the King’s Daughters and Sons was created in 1886 aboard a ship traveling from Europe to New York.

Margaret Bottome was deeply moved by the death onboard the ship of a young seminary student and wished that an organization existing solely for the purpose of ministering unto others, and recognizable by a badge.

On Jan. 13, 1886, 10 founding members chose the silver Maltese cross as their badge, “In His Name” as their watchword and, as their motto, “Not to be ministered unto, but to minister.”

The Willing Hearts Circle was organized in Brookhaven in 1894 by ladies who visited the sick, while providing food, clothing and medicine for the needy. In 1914, the Circle purchased the furnishings of the Brookhaven Sanitarium. In 1922, with the assistance of a city bond issue and bricks donated by Brookhaven Pressed Brick Company, the Circle opened a new facility, King’s Daughters Hospital, located on the corner of North Jackson and West Congress streets. A nursing school also operated there from 1924 until 1944.

The hospital relocated to its present location on Hwy. 51 in 1964, into a building leased from the Lincoln County Board of Supervisors. The old location was deeded by the city to Silver Cross Home. A hospital auxiliary was organized in 1977 to provide hospital volunteers.

In 1982, the Office of Housing and Urban Development made funds available for a project to provide low-income housing for the elderly and handicapped. The Willing Hearts Circle established a nonprofit corporation to build and operate Kingsborough Apartments. Sixty-four apartments were constructed.

Silver Cross Home constructed a 60-bed nursing home in 1996 behind the hospital. In 2010, a therapy center was added.

The King’s Daughters Foundation was reactivated in 1998 to increase community education about the hospital and encourage financial support. The Foundation is governed by a board composed of members from the community, hospital and medical staffs, and Circle members.

King’s Daughters Hospital changed its name to King’s Daughters Medical Center in 1999. In 2013, Silver Cross Home was leased to Aspen Properties LLC and the Silver Cross Foundation was formed.

KDMC, Silver Cross and Kingsborough Apartments are governed by boards elected by The Willing Hearts Circle.

This year, The Willing Hearts Circle is celebrating 125 years of service to Brookhaven, and members recently met to commemorate the group’s founding.

Ellen Williamson, Mississippi Branch president of King’s Daughters and Sons, said many people do not realize the TWHC is one of many Circles in the US and Canada.

“We do many amazing things ‘In His Name,’” said Williamson. “We are a Christian service organization dedicated to do good work in local communities.”