Kevin R. Dunn began his weekly visits to sing at West Georgia Hospice in 2002 but had never taken the time to sit down in the LaGrange, Ga., institution.
That changed during the summer of 2016 when his 49-year-old wife Deborah spent the final four days of her life there.
“I was always moving around from room to room singing and talking with people,” the volunteer said.
A new CD the 50-year-old singer has recorded featuring his songs “Look at Jesus” and “Lord of the Heavens” is dedicated to her memory.
A benefit concert at 7 p.m. on May 4 in New Community Church on Davis Road in LaGrange will be his third such event to raise funds for West Georgia, an establishment to which he is now closer than ever. Church choirs will also perform.
“The event is free but we will be asking for an offering,” Dunn said.
As for getting a copy of the CD supporting his DUNN4U Ministries, people may go to the donate tab at dunn4uministries.org or contact the artist at email@example.com. He said a previous CD sold about 3,000 copies.
Dunn’s wife, an assistant principal at Callaway Middle School, the mother of five children, died a year after receiving a diagnosis of breast cancer. It was on the Fourth of July.
“The cancer spread to her liver,” said Dunn. “She taught our children to never give up, and she kept fighting.”
He said his wife’s time at West Georgia gave him a greater understanding of what people who have family in hospice go through and an even greater appreciation for hospice workers.
Dunn works for WJCN in LaGrange, which bills itself as “community network television.” On air, he does news and weather and has hosted a talk show. He also sells advertising for the the station seen in 11 counties in west Georgia and east Alabama.
Dunn is also a deacon and worship ministry leader at Pilgrim Baptist Church in Lanett, Ala.
A much-in-demand singer, he has performed at churches in several states.
Family members of people coming to West Georgia have asked Dunn to sing at the funeral of their loved one.
“It is a huge honor for me to be asked,” he said. “I’ve met someone near the end of their life and become like part of the family.”
Dunn said he will be in a grocery store and a stranger will come up to him and hug him, thanking him for helping a family member.
He said the lyrics of his songs are aimed at praising and magnifying God. Dunn wants to inspire people to transform their minds and lives.
Dunn likes to tell the story of how he came to sing at West Georgia.
Dunn recalls he was sitting in his car at a traffic light when God spoke the word to him that would change his life.
“Hospice,” said the voice.
It was 2002 and Dunn was seeking a place to sing on a volunteer basis. A nursing home or hospital was what he had in mind.
“A hospice was somewhere I did not want to be,” he said. “I’m very compassionate. I knew I would get close to people and they would eventually pass. But I heard this voice and felt that was the direction God wanted me to go.”
His volunteer work at West Georgia drew the attention of the Christian Broadcasting Network’s “700 Club Interactive in 2012 and a television crew came to LaGrange and taped his story for the ABC Family Channel.
He said his wife was always supportive of his charitable work, that she understood what God had called him to do.
Dunn never tires of the visits to West Georgia.
“It is a passion God has given me,” he said. “You never grow tired of your passion.”
Dunn performs a large selection of songs.
“I do many hymns, but I do contemporary songs, as well,” he said. “I make sure the language is expressive of God and Jesus.”
He believes his music provides a sense of peace.
Dunn said a family member of a hospice patient said that one day while he was singing “Amazing Grace” in another room, her loved one died in another room listening to Dunn’s voice.
“She said that listening to the music made her family member feel loved and at peace,” said Dunn. “It made her feel it was okay to make the transition. That was something special.”