Hilts Announces Retirement at Park Place Outreach Youth Emergency Shelter
(SAVANNAH, GA) Linda Hilts, executive director of Park Place Outreach – Youth Emergency Shelter, has announced she will retire after 20 years with the organization. She was recognized at the 2017 Celebration of Love Gala held at the Plantation Club Plantation Club of the Landings.
Under Hilts’ leadership, Park Place Outreach has helped more than 6,200 area young people find emergency shelter and thousands more find stability through its non-residential programs.
“I have witnessed incredible life events in which young people have overcome powerful odds and am continually amazed and impressed at how bright, creative and resilient they are,” Hilts said. “Furthermore, I’m awed by the passion that our dedicated staff demonstrates every day. It takes a special person to be able to deal with the complex social issues our young people and their families face.”
The mission of Park Place Outreach is to provide support for troubled children and teens in Savannah and the surrounding area. Since 1984, its shelter, which is open 24 hours a day, has offered youth between the ages of 11 and 17 a safe and loving environment. Whenever possible, the organization’s goal is to keep kids off the street and reunify families.
Hilts joined Park Place Outreach on January 6, 1997, after having worked as the Director of Hope House of Savannah and as an employee of Candler Hospital. Her legacy will include being a voice for homeless youth and unaccompanied youth in the community as well as the development of several shelter services, including the Street Outreach Program team, which hires teens to be part of the team, and offers mentoring to resident adolescents and provides counseling, clothing and personal care items to teens and young adults, up to age 21, who are in need but might not wish to come to the shelter. Several former residents have been hired on the Street Outreach Program team.
Park Place Outreach also provides residential and non-residential support, along with counseling for youth and their parents or guardians and other family members. The agency additionally offers a parenting support group to anyone in the community to help strengthen families.
The 24-hour shelter was renovated in 2008, becoming one of Savannah’s first LEED-certified nonprofit buildings, and now provides a high-quality living and healing environment for children and families, as well as a good working environment for staff. Each year, an estimated 1.6 million to 2.8 million kids across the United States run away from home. In Chatham County, young women under the age of 18 make up 10 percent of the county’s homeless population; young men under 18 add another 8 percent.
A graduate of Armstrong State University with a degree in psychology, Hilts attributes much of her success to her mentor, Dr. Keith Douglas, of Armstrong’s Psychology Department. She is also grateful to her family and the skills she learned in helping to run the family-owned business, which enabled the Detroit native to excel in the non-profit arena.
Hilts credits a great deal of the milestones achieved by Park Place Outreach to a “very strong and committed” board of directors, which ensures the organization remains financially sound. The shelter has seven full-time and 24 part-time employees along with 63 volunteers.
“I am proud we offer a stabilizing environment for vulnerable youth. Our shelter is like the emergency room. We are the first place someone reaches out to for help,” Hilts said. “I envision a future in which our programs and staff will continue to strengthen and grow so those who lead Park Place Outreach can unceasingly deal with the complex social issues that constantly evolve and confront our community.”
In addition to her duties at PPO, Hilts has devoted many volunteer hours serving those in need. She was recognized by AWWIN, Inc. (Assisting Working Women in Need), as one of their Top Ten Working Women of the Year in 2008. She is also a past board member of the Chatham-Savannah Authority of the Homeless, representing runaway and homeless youth issues, and she served as a board member for the Southeastern Network of Youth and Family Services (now known as the National Safe Place Network), and Armstrong State University’s alumni board.
Hilts looks forward to riding her rusty bike on the beach “as often as possible” during her retirement, as well as walking on the beach and kayaking around Tybee Island. She has a daughter and a son, along with five granddaughters, one grandson, a great-grandson and great-granddaughter who she expects to keep her busy and “well loved.”
Hilts will be retiring sometime later this winter as a new director is firmly in place. For more information, visit http://parkplaceyes.org
MORE INFORMATION ON PARK PLACE OUTREACH YOUTH EMERGENCY SHELTER
Park Place Outreach Youth Emergency Shelter, located at 514 E. Henry St., provides support for troubled children and teens in Savannah and the surrounding area. Opened in 1984, the shelter, open 24 hours a day, offers youth, between the ages of 11 and 17, a safe and loving environment. Homeless, abused or runaway teenagers can self-admit themselves into this shelter. The Street Outreach Program team offers mentoring to resident adolescents and provides counseling, clothing and personal care items to teens and young adults up to age 21 that are in need and might not come into the shelter. Whenever possible, the organization’s goal is to keep kids off the street and reunify families. With the generous support of local organizations and individuals, Park Place Outreach has helped more than 6,200 area young people find emergency shelter and thousands more find stability through its non-residential programs. Park Place Outreach is an equal opportunity provider and employer. For more information, visit http://parkplaceyes.org or join the group on Facebook (ParkPlace) and Twitter (@parkplaceyes).