With over 20 years of service at KenCrest, William Harris receives the Sister Grace award during this year’s Staff Event.
By Sydney Kerelo
During KenCrest’s annual Staff Event in October, William Harris stood in awe as his name was called to receive the Sister Grace award—KenCrest’s highest and most respected award given. With shock in his eyes and a smile, KenCrest’s Director of Accounts Payable Services, Harris, accepted his award.
The Sister Grace Jones award is given to one KenCrest employee each year who demonstrates the same ideals and practices as she did, such as being a servant to others, giving rather than receiving, and supporting those less fortunate than oneself.
Sister Grace Jones came to KenCrest in 1947 as the newly appointed Deaconess-In-Charge, working tirelessly to redirect the Agency’s vision and expand its impact. Sister Grace changed KenCrest’s mission from supporting people with Tuberculosis to helping those with developmental and intellectual disabilities and their families.
She wanted to develop more inclusive settings for people with disabilities and to connect the Organization’s two separate entities of KenCrest, Rivercrest, and the Kensington Dispensary. In 1969, she achieved just that and created the KenCrest Centers for Exceptional Services.
Sister Grace prioritized serving others and ensuring they had a good life. Employee traits that she and William Harris share.
Harris has always been a giving and caring individual. As a younger man, while working at a Fortune 500 company, he decided to become a youth pastor for 12 years. During that time, he worked closely with the church’s youth program to lead by example and help them become well-rounded, exceptional adults.
Harris similarly raised his young boys— with respect, integrity, and a passion for helping others. He kept those same guiding principles throughout his life and work.
“It’s not about the money or having a great return,” says Harris. “As a nonprofit, we need to take the talents and gifts to help those less fortunate than we are. It’s better to give than it is to receive.”
Whether picking something up for a coworker or helping to research on his own time, Harris is always willing to go above and beyond to help those around him. He embodies the same passions, values, and actions as Sister Grace, which led him to be the receiver of her award this year.
When Harris found out he was the recipient, he was utterly shocked. He never saw himself as deserving enough; he always felt like the award should go to someone working directly with the people in KenCrest’s programs or those with longevity. He never suspected he would be chosen.
“I was actually on my way out of the event that night; I was almost through the door when someone stopped me,” says Harris. “I stopped attending many staff events but was convinced to come to this one, and I was not prepared in any shape or form.”
Harris recalls standing in front of the microphone and speaking from the heart, ensuring everyone felt his appreciation and respect for the individuals in the Accounts Payable department who helped him get to where he is now.
Learn more about KenCrest’s Sister Grace award and our programs by clicking the link below!