For Immediate Release - Southwest Tennessee Community College

Date: February 4, 2011

A Centenarian Effort is Celebrated at Southwest

February 1, 2011 marked the one-hundreth birthday for Reverend Jacie Morris. For some individuals hearing about someone reaching the century mark may not seem like anything spectacular. Life expectancy has increased over the past years, partially due to medical breakthroughs, so now we see more individuals reaching the century mark. What made this birthday different from others would be where the celebration was held and the connection to Southwest.

The celebration was held in one of the most active places in Memphis, the Southwest Tennessee Community College Childcare Center on the Union Avenue Campus. This place, filled with six-week to five-year-old children and the staff, is where Reverend Morris loves to be. He has hung his hat daily there for more than 12 years being a foster grandparent, a role that takes great patience and care. There is no monetary compensation for being a foster grandparent; it is strictly a volunteer effort.

The Foster Grandparent Program has operated in Memphis since 1972 and has been sponsored by Porter-Leath since 1985. Porter-Leath is a non-profit organization that is committed to serving at-risk children and families in the Memphis area. Founded in 1850 as an orphanage, it has since grown to six program service areas. One of these programs is Generations, which brings children in need together with low-income seniors in a mutually beneficial experience. The volunteers spend an average of 20 hours per week reading, mentoring and sharing their time with children at schools, Head Start centers, hospitals, daycare centers and residential treatment centers in Memphis and Shelby County.

Reverend Morris has been a member of the Foster Grandparent Program for 25 years; 13 years at Lebonheur Children's Hospital and the remaining time at Southwest. On this special occasion, he received many accolades including salutations from City of Memphis and Shelby County government officials, letters from Porter-Leath, and even a flag from the White House. He was surrounded by his wife, niece, Porter-Leath and Southwest staff members, and - let's not forget - the many daycare children, who all sang "Happy Birthday." One of the guests included Carolyn Qualls, whose granddaughter Jasmine attended the center beginning at the age of nine-months. Jasmine is now ten, and Carolyn makes it a point to visit the center each year to see Reverend Morris.

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Photo Caption: Reverend Jacie Morris blows out the candles during his Southwest Childcare Center party.
Rev. Jacie Morris

For more information contact: Robert Jackson, (901) 333-4116 rjackson@southwest.tn.edu, Farris Bldg., Room 1002, 5983 Macon Cove, Memphis, TN 38134