Listening, caring and counseling have always been part of the process used by churches and synagogues to extend God’s love to those with emotional, spiritual or relational needs. It often initiates the healing process.
Many in our society prefer counseling where their values and faith traditions are respected and can be a vital part of their recovery. Kilgore Samaritan Counseling Center was established with such people in mind.
The original idea for a counseling ministry resulted from the vision of Betty Kilgore Gibbs who realized the value of the significant help she had received through pastoral counseling at Second Presbyterian Church. She felt led by God to establish the Kilgore Fund intended to endow a staff pastoral counselor at Second Presbyterian Church. With her mother, Violet Kilgore Tillery, she established the fund in memory of her father, Ben Kilgore.
In 1986, the concept shifted from a staff position at Second Presbyterian to a counseling center. The church gave the go-ahead to form a Board of Directors and agreed to provide $15,000 annually through 1990 toward its operating budget.
The Kilgore Center affiliated itself with the Solihten Institute, a nationally recognized organization that develops and accredits pastoral counseling centers throughout the nation. The Kilgore Samaritan Counseling Center is one of more than 40 Solihten accredited centers nationwide.
In 1987, Dr. John P. Reed was hired as the Executive Director after holding a similar position with the Samaritan Center of Central and Eastern Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky. In its first year, The Kilgore Samaritan Counseling Center provided 1,295 counseling sessions to 159 individuals.
In 1990, the Board established the Samaritan Counseling Scholarship Fund to allow donor gifts to be used to supplement the fees from clients who could not afford to fully pay for their therapy.
By 1992, the staff conducted a record 4,263 counseling sessions as the Center received full accreditation as an approved counseling center by the Samaritan Institute and the American Association of Pastoral Counselors. Kilgore also opened a satellite counseling center at St. Francis in the Fields Episcopal
In the fall of 2000, The Center moved from its offices at Second Presbyterian to larger leased space in “The Stone House” across Brownsboro Road.
Also in 2000, the Kilgore Garden Tour was established which introduced many people to the ministry of Kilgore while visiting beautiful spring gardens located throughout the Louisville community. Kilgore’s counseling is like maintaining a garden, it takes time to plant seeds, ensure proper soil and water are applied, tend to the plant as it grows by trimming and pruning its branches, and make sure it has good sunlight.
In 2008, St. Francis in the Fields agreed to double its level of support and Second Presbyterian affirmed ongoing annual support level.
In 2009, the staff moved into its present offices in a renovated home that it purchased at 918 Ormbsy Lane off of LaGrange Road and launched efforts to strengthen its programs of Church Outreach and education and expand its clinical department.
The Center provided more than 3300 hours to clients, including 425 new clients ranging from children to those with geriatric concerns. The Kilgore Samaritan Counseling Center continues as an interfaith, non-profit agency, funded by the Kilgore Endowment Fund, the Samaritan Scholarship fund, Second Presbyterian Church, St. Francis in the Fields Episcopal Church, foundations and individuals.
Kilgore has grown in providing guidance and counseling to clients with nearly 4800 hours. We have expanded our services by partnering with the West End School, The Healing Place, and Area Ministries and have sponsored clergy luncheons, addiction and substance use seminars, parenting classes, and middle school girls workshops.
This past year Kilgore has experienced significant growth in counseling hours and fundraising efforts to address the growing need of mental health wellness issues in greater Louisville. We provided nearly 6000 counseling hours and raised over $300,000. With this growth we added three more Board of Directors. Our mission is to meet people where they are which speaks to our clients’ faith needs and financial standing or limitations.
Despite enduring a significant billing software conversion and overcoming financial software issues, Kilgore maintained its level of counseling nearly 6000 hours. In forming new partners like Jefferson County Public Schools and surrounding county’s school districts, we hired a new therapist. The Board continues to expand its talent by adding two new members.
We must learn to regard people less in light of what they do or omit to do, and more in the light of what they suffer.