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Pittman Park UMC’s David Keene has a helper’s heart


By Kirsten VanBeverhoudt, Grice Connect newspaper
If you want to know what genuine love looks like, meet David Keene. Keene is a man who believes in giving with his whole heart, and in most cases, no matter the ask, he always says “yes.” 
Born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida, Keene moved to Statesboro, Georgia, in 1983. The year after he moved to Statesboro, his oldest brother passed away, and when his parents became immobile, he and his wife, Mary, decided to remodel their house and have his parents stay with them. David and Mary have been married for forty years and have four children that they’re proud of. 
Keene is an active church member at Pittman Park United Methodist Church. He loves to serve God’s people so much that during one recent Wednesday night at church, he sliced 18 turkey breasts by hand for a Thanksgiving feast. He later had to rest with a heating pad to reduce the pain, but nonetheless he pressed on in his efforts of lending a helping hand. 
“You got to keep moving,” he said.
He’s also involved in the community outside of the church as a poll manager at the Williams James Middle School precinct and assists with early voting. 
However, the volunteer role that Keene is perhaps best known for is serving as the East Georgia Regional Medical Center Auxiliary President. He’s held this position since 2012, helping with many different projects in the span of those ten years. (You can learn more about the Auxiliary packing Thanksgiving bags for needy families here.)
Paying it forward may have saved his life
Several years back, he experienced his own medical emergency and found help at the facility so dear to him.

In the span of his lifetime, after being born and having his tonsils removed, he’s only been to the hospital once. It was in 2011, the day after New Year’s, when his wife drove him to East Georgia Regional Medical Center, as he was having a hard time breathing. As she drove, he had the window rolled down in an attempt to breathe. 
After arriving at the hospital, he spent four days allowing the cardiologists to take care of his heart condition. Two months later, he got two stents in his heart, and in 2015, two more stents were put in. 
After that experience, his love for East Georgia Regional Medical Center goes beyond words. You might say that EGRMC is near and dear to his heart both literally and figuratively.
“They have a good bunch of people that try as hard as they can, and I made a lot of friends here,” Keene said. 
Sadly, some of the people he met in the hospital passed away during the peak of COVID-19, but the joy he has gained from his Auxiliary experience is priceless to him.
“What’s the greatest thing in the world is if you have a contact with somebody in the hospital and you’re walking around Walmart and they come up and tell you how good it made them feel from something you said,” Keene shared. “That’s worth more than money, and I’ve had that.”
Keene hopes that everyone gets a chance to experience that in their lifetime, and he hopes to continue his service at the hospital going forward. He expects to see big changes on the horizon.
Kirsten VanBeverhoudt is a freelance writer for Grice Connect, a local newspaper in the Statesboro, Ga. area. She can be reached at kmvanb@yahoo.comThis article was originally published on December 19, 2022 in the Grice Connect.

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