The Shinnston News & Harrison County Journal has named Jim Harris as January’s Citizen of the Month, a program sponsored by Dorsey Funeral Home in Shinnston – locally owned & operated.
By TRINA RUNNER News & Journal Staff Writer
Jim Harris is a perfect example of a Harrison County native continuing to contribute to the betterment of the citizens in the very county in which he was raised. After growing up in Anmoore and attending Fairmont State University, WVU and DeVry University, he was among the early movement that brought paramedics to the area. He became a certified Firefighter, EMT and MICP and rose to become an executive officer at the Anmoore Volunteer Fire Department. He was among those who started the ambulance service at the AVFD and also worked as a RESA VII EMT Instructor for 12 counties.
Among his many passions, the health and welfare of local residents ranks number one. Currently the Executive Director for Health Access, Inc., much of his time is spent advocating for those with little or no insurance and for those with limited access to healthcare. He and his staff not only give a voice to this group, but also help them navigate the complex and confusing healthcare system in order to give them the access they deserve.
Harris has also been a key figure in reducing homelessness in Harrison County. He serves as a member of the Homes for Harrison Steering Committee and has helped organize the yearly Point in Time County to identify those living outdoors in our area. Homes for Harrison also organized the community sleep-out events to raise awareness of homelessness, and Harris served two years on the WV Coalition to End Homelessness, which was headquartered in Bridgeport.
Breast Health Awareness is yet another aspect of healthy citizens for which Harris advocates. He helps raise funds and awareness to support breast cancer testing for those with little or no insurance, making sure that women have every opportunity to get screened.
Harris has been a Volunteer of the Year, Citizen of the Year, and Community Improvement Award Winner recipient, all given by the Harrison County Chamber of Commerce.
Additionally, he serves on the boards for United Hospital Center, Goodwill Advisory Council, Community Veterans Advisory Board, United Way, Healthy Harrison, Mountains of Hope Cancer Coalition, and the West Virginia Association of Free and Charitable Clinics. He is also on the Dismas Charities Board as well as the Homes for Harrison, Kiwanis Club, and the Harrison County Chamber of Commerce.
Through his membership with Prevention Intervention Treatment and Recovery and with Prevention Partnership, Harris continues to find innovative ways to assist those struggling with addiction. His work with Harrison County Alzheimer’s Walk and Breast Cancer enable others to get involved with research and prevention strategies to cure these diseases.
Harris’s selfless giving has earned him many accolades, but he remains humble and committed to the causes for which he has dedicated his life. He exhibits pure pride when discussing his community and is quick to give credit to those with whom he has worked and volunteered.
“Some of the very best people I have ever known call Harrison County home,” said Harris. “I have been blessed to work in jobs that align closely with my own faith and belief system, and I have had so many wonderful opportunities to connect people to resources and help ease their suffering.”