Kelli Kirk- Director of Operations
Kelli was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah where she spent the first 55 years of her life. She has enjoyed numerous, diverse occupations over the years. No matter where she has worked however, she follows her mother's advice, "always leave a place better than you found it." Each position in which she has been honored to serve has led to a leadership roles.
Kelli remarried in 1995 and she and her husband, Brian, have 2 boys who will both graduate from university in the coming year. Together they are blessed with their mixed family of 4 children and 4 grandchildren. Kelli is grateful to have maintained a sustained friendship with her ex-husband.
Kelli found her true passion in ministry after she and Brian began attending a Lutheran church in Sandy, UT. The church was looking for a communication's director to work 15 hours a week producing the newsletter, bulletins, website and marketing materials. This was the perfect job allowing her to spend time with her two young sons. Over the next several years she was led to teach Sunday school, then became Director of Children's Ministry and then Family Ministry Director. Shepherding parents and children birth to high school age and the volunteers who served them was her joy and gift. She then attended seminary at Salt Lake Theological Seminary leaving behind a growing volunteer team which she created. Kelli created countless publications to encourage families along with developing and leading women's retreats and leadership conferences.
After 20 years of ministry which culminated in the opening and directing a Preschool and Daycare at the church she once again left the world a better place to retire and begin spending her time reading and enjoying the outdoors. Kelli's husband, Brian, retired in 2016 and together they enjoyed 18 months on the road living in their RV and traveling and exploring the United States which they continue to enjoy.
They settled in beautiful Hayesville in 2018 where she discovered The Still Place as she was exploring volunteer opportunities. Again, following her joys and gifts, one thing led to another and she was asked to join the staff at The Still Place a few months later.
It has been a blessing for her to see how families with seriously ill children are nurtured and loved when they attend a single family retreat. She feels the love and passion Dr. Dawn, Dr. Craig and Kayla Tucker, the program director, as well as the volunteers show for each family. The Still Place truly is a place to experience rest, renewal and re-creation, not only for families but also for the staff and volunteers who are lucky enough to serve them.
Kayla Tucker- Program Director
Kayla was born and raised in Georgia, making her a die-hard Georgia Bulldog fan. She attended Young Harris College, where she graduated in May of 2019 with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. During her time in college, Kayla started a service outreach organization called Army of Hope, which is still growing today. Through Army of Hope, Kayla was introduced to Dr. Dawn and The Still Place.
Kayla volunteered at a retreat at The Still Place in March of 2019 and got to know a wonderful family with a teenage boy who had been battling a brain tumor for years. She had no idea that those campfire games and awesome Appalachian cave videos she shared would be the start of a new, wonderful journey for her. As the teen left The Still Place he told Dr. Dawn, "you should hire her." Dr. Dawn, listening to the whispers of children, extended an offer for Kayla to become a summer intern at The Still Place.
After talking with Dr. Dawn and Dr. Craig, and experiencing a small piece of a retreat, Kayla knew she had a deep connection with The Still Place because of her own battle with cancer. In September of 2015, the beginning of her senior year of high school, Kayla found a large, rapidly growing mass on her neck. Just a few long days later, her life was flipped upside down as she was diagnosed with Stage 3 Hodgkin's Lymphoma. She underwent immediate treatment at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, which quickly became her second home. In November of 2015 her doctor excitedly announced that there were no signs of cancer, and she was placed into remission. To this day, Kayla is still in remission, and is a proud cancer survivor!
Kayla was impacted by everyone who played a role in her cancer journey but one person touched her life in a unique way and that was her Child Life Specialist. Kayla certainly didn't look forward to the chemotherapy infusions, clinic visits, or scans, but she always looked forward to the daily visits from Child Life Specialist. Knowing the impact her Child Life Specialist made during such a hard time in her life, Kayla knew she wanted to do the same for other kids battling life threatening illnesses. She now is on the path to becoming a Certified Child Life Specialist, and hopes that she can one day work at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta where her journey began.
After sharing this story with Dr. Dawn, Dr. Craig, and an amazing Still Place mom, they hired Kayla as a Summer Child Life Intern. Kayla spent the summer of 2019 working with, and being impacted by the most amazing families. Following this incredible summer, Kayla was hired as the Program Director and loves her new position. Kayla says, "working with the families at The Still Place is a dream come true. How many people can say they work with superheroes every day?!"