CTF Board members Robert J. Harris, M.D. of Columbia and Representative Mike McGhee of Odessa were recently selected as the 2012 recipients of the Children’s Trust Fund Chair Award. The awards were presented by CTF Board Chair Tom Vansaghi, Ph.D., at the CTF annual Fall Board Meeting in October. Both were selected for their extensive volunteer work in serving children, youth and their families.
Dr. Harris has served on the CTF Board since 2009. A practicing pediatrician since 1964, Harris is a Professor of Pediatrics at Children’s Hospital in Columbia and is on staff at Boone Hospital, Columbia Regional and Children’s Hospital. In addition to all of his private practice responsibilities, he finds time to be active in his home community of Columbia as a Board member for Safe Kids; a Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation Board member; a former Board member of the Columbia School Board, including serving a term as President; a former member of the Medical Advisory Board of the state’s Missouri Crippled Children’s Service; and a Board of Directors member of the Missouri Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Harris has also authored two children’s books.
His commitment and dedication to serving others has continued while on the Children’s Trust Fund Board, where he has directly assisted CTF staff with the development of the 2011 Prevent Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS)/Safe Sleep for Your Baby DVD and related CTF public education materials. Harris launched what he called his “Maiden Medical Mission” in 2011 by returning to the area where he was born in southeast Missouri and working in partnership with Whole Kids Outreach, a local non-profit, to provide essential health care to at-risk children in rural southeast Missouri. His intervention included visiting the children and their parents in their home. In this area, healthcare is oftentimes 50 or more miles away so, in many instances, home visits provide a first-time opportunity for many of these children to be treated by a pediatrician. Harris resides in Columbia with his wife Jerena (Jerry).
Representative Mike McGhee was elected to the Missouri House in 2004 and was appointed to the CTF Board by the Speaker of the House in 2005 where he has served the last 7 years. McGhee continues to be active in his community by volunteering his time in many youth serving organizations. He has served as a leader and counselor for the Boy Scouts of America for over 20 years, and he works with and supports FFA students in his home district. He and his wife have been a host family for students with the International 4-H Youth Exchange and have provided many opportunities to youth assigned to the Waverly Youth Center.
While a member of the legislative body, McGhee viewed his elected position as an opportunity to directly involve and teach youth about the legislative process and help kids understand the importance of government and Missouri history. As a result, he has welcomed thousands of youth to Jefferson City for visits and Capitol tours. Mike lives in Odessa with his wife, Valeta.
The CTF Chair Award was established in 2002 by the late Richard “Dick” Dunn, former CTF Chair, as a way for the chair to recognize a person or organization exhibiting outstanding service, advocacy and volunteer work to or on behalf of CTF.