Harris helps those in need throughout Georgia
When Nichole Harris ’13 sets her mind to helping people in need, the results quickly follow.
In less than one year, Harris, who is the chief program director for Society of St. Vincent de Paul Georgia, played a major role in bringing the organization’s community pharmacy from concept to reality and achieving 501(c)(3) nonprofit status.
“I worked hard and I worked fast, but it’s really easy to have that kind of drive for something when you truly love what you are doing,” Harris said.
SVDP, which is based in the Atlanta metro area, manages 72 groups representing a total of more than 7,000 volunteers throughout Georgia. The organization focuses on helping people in need so they can achieve stability and move toward self-sufficiency.
Thanks to SVDP’s recent successful capital campaign, the community pharmacy now occupies space in the organization’s new home in the Atlanta metro area. The pharmacy launched a pilot program in December 2020, and will start serving clients on a larger scale in February.
Through the community pharmacy, SVDP partners with pharmacy schools and area agencies to distribute maintenance medications to clients to treat chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and arthritis.
While working to create the community pharmacy was the largest SVDP initiative Harris spearheaded, it’s far from the only way she has made a difference for people in need.
She manages the organization’s program-specific grants, maintains SVDP’s nonprofit status, is involved with the organization’s community food pantry, works with all 72 groups of volunteers and much more.
“We want to make sure we are helping the whole person, and we focus on self-sufficiency,” Harris said. “We try to prevent homelessness as much as possible, because it’s much easier to keep someone in a home than it is to get them into one once they are homeless.”
Harris, who earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Montevallo, developed a love for helping individuals in need after she started volunteering through the AmeriCorps program shortly after graduating from UM.
“I started volunteering, and it kind of changed the trajectory of my life,” Harris said. “It gets me out of the bed every morning knowing that I’m helping people. Even if I have a horrible day, just knowing that I helped one person makes it all worth it.”
Harris credits her UM liberal arts education with preparing her to face the wide range of initiatives she is involved with through SVDP.
“There is no other place like Montevallo. I had no idea how it was preparing me and shaping me to be able to walk into any room, but that’s what Montevallo does. It prepares you for anything you may face,” she said. “Montevallo is really, really good at creating a whole person. With the small classrooms, it allows for a more personal experience and a more one-on-one experience. It’s small, but it’s like a family.”
MORE ALUMNI GIVING BACK:
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Bliss makes masks
When the Seale Harris Clinic, where alumna Andrea Bliss ’11 works, needed some form of protection, she diligently started making cloth masks for her coworkers. The family medical clinic serves as one of the first stops for potential COVID-19 patients in the Birmingham area.
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