Service comes about in unique ways. On an otherwise nondescript trip to New York in 1886 aboard a ship leaving Europe, a young seminary student died. His death could have easily been forgotten — a nameless face on an endless sea — had it not been for Mrs. Margaret Bottome.
Having just met the young man, the aloneness of his death without a mother beside him stirred her soul. Greatly moved, Mrs. Bottome began the process that would ultimately result in the formation of the International Order of the King's Daughters and Sons. Its headquarters are now located in Chautauqua, New York. Mrs. Bottome poignantly described the effect of the young man in the Ladies Home Journal. "As I paced the deck in the days that followed [his death] and looked up at the boat that swung day after day with his body in it as if he was being rocked to sleep, the thought came to me, oh, if I had only been in a sisterhood wearing a badge that would have denoted service to humanity ... At that hour I wished for a sisterhood that should not be known by any distinct dress but by some kind of badge."
"Look up and not down, Look forward and not back, Look out and not in, And lend a hand."
Serving is our goal, our mission, and our reason for being. The vision of Mrs. Margaret Bottome is just as alive today as it was in 1886 when her heart went out to a young seminary student. We are a team that believes that service comes through Christ and that every patient, every resident, and every person we serve is a gift.
January 13, 1886
10 founding members chose the silver Maltese cross as their badge. They selected the watchword "In His Name" and the text "Not to be ministered unto, but to minister."
The Willing Hearts Circle was organized in Brookhaven. Immediately, the ladies began nursing and visiting the sick while providing food and clothing and medicine for the needy
Approximately twenty years later
The Circle purchased the furnishings of the Brookhaven Sanitarium, a hospital established by Dr. Harvey F. Johnson and Dr. D.W. Jones at 156 West Chickasaw Street.
The Circle, with the assistance of a bond issue passed by the city and bricks donated by the Brookhaven Pressed Brick Company, opened a new facility, King's Daughters Hospital, on the corner of North Jackson and West Congress streets. A nursing school also operated there between 1924 and 1944
The hospital moved to its present location on Highway 51 North into a building leased from the Lincoln County Board of Supervisors. The city deeded the old location to Silver Cross Home.
A hospital auxiliary was organized to provide volunteers for the hospital. In 2004, the Auxiliary opened a gift shop in the lobby. Profits are put back into projects benefiting KDMC.
HUD 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. After raising $10,000 from private donations and obtaining a 40-year loan from HUD, 64 one- and two-bedroom apartments for low-income tenants were built behind the hospital.
Silver Cross Home constructed a 60-bed nursing home behind KDMC. In 2010, a therapy center was added.
The King's Daughters Foundation was reactivated to increase community education about KDMC and to encourage financial support. The Foundation is governed by a board composed of members of the Circle, the community, and the hospital and medical staff.
King's Daughters Hospital changed its name to King's Daughters Medical Center to reflect the expansion of services to the community.
Silver Cross Home was leased to Aspen Properties LLC, and the Silver Cross Foundation was formed.
The Willing Hearts Circle governs King’s Daughters Medical Center, Silver Cross Foundation, and Kingsborough Elderly Housing.