East Middle School teacher receives award for human relations
By By Matt Fournier Advocate Staff Writer
Mar 19, 2013 | 8:00 AM
In a small, nondescript townhouse on Pennsylvania Avenue in Westminster, Dr. Darcel Harris runs a tutoring program called We Can Help, which tutors students and adults of all ages on subjects ranging from GED preparation to elementary school work and more.
On March 25, Dr. Harris will be honored at a dinner held by the Carroll County Human Relations Commission, and receive the commission's 2013 Human Relations Award.
According to Jacqueline Thomas, secretary of the commission, recipients are found and chosen to receive the award because of their active advancement of human rights in Carroll County, and service contributions to the Carroll County community.
Commission member Jean Lewis said that Harris was chosen because of her commitment to better the community around her.
Thomas said that Harris' commitment to getting youth involved in community service was also a major part of the reason she was selected for the award.
Thomas said the commission is made up of five volunteer members, and exists to handle discrimination complaints within Carroll County.
According to Thomas, the dinner is the only public dinner the commission holds, and in the past people like Dr. Ira Zepp of McDaniel College, and Paula Langmeade, the current director of Springfield Hospital Center have received the award.
Thomas said that Harris was chosen because of her work with children in Carroll County, her work with Carroll County Public Schools, and her community service.
Harris said she was taken by surprise when she found out that she had won the award, as she did not even realize the commission existed. In an email, she wrote that she was honored somebody saw how much she loved her community and helping others.
"It just seems weird that I'm getting an award for something natural that I do," Harris said.
According to Harris, some of her work has included organizing block parties in Westminster at Bishop's Garth Apartments on Charles Street, and at Dutterer Family Park.
Harris said that in the case of Pennsylvania Avenue, the block parties served the function of introducing neighbors to each other to work on combating drug problems in the area.
Harris also said that at the block parties, she has a goal of connecting residents with services they wouldn't necessarily try and seek out such as Carroll Community College's GED programs, and the Carroll County Health Department's Cigarette Restitution Fund Program.
"I've been blessed by the community allowing me to minister to them," Harris said, "they're the gift, the community's the gift, they're the best thing that's ever happened to me, outside of my daughter and god."
According to Harris, she has also worked with Gods Regeneration of Westminster Mission, which strives to feed, provide blood pressure screenings, and minister to Westminster's homeless population without looking down on them.
According to Harris, she also works with CCPS as a community facilitator for students who can't get along. Harris said she meets with students to facilitate discussion between them and tries to help them to reach a resolution.
Harris said she originally moved to Westminster 23 years ago from Washington D.C., and is inspired to give back to the community by the bible and all the blessings she has received.
Harris said she currently teaches ELA at East Middle School.
The dinner will feature guest speaker Carol Moses-Williams, who said she met Harris in Westminster about 23 years ago.
Moses-Williams said Harris helped her learn how to properly shop for groceries, convinced her to go back to school, and even gave her spiritual advice.
According to Moses-Williams, her speech will focus on Harris' accomplishments in Carroll County. Moses-Williams said that when Harris approached her about speaking at the event, she felt it would be an honor.
Thomas said that tickets have not been available for the dinner since March 11, but anybody still interested in possibly attending should email