November Gr8 Acts of Kindness winner lives to give

Published: Nov. 28, 2019 at 9:18 AM CST
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - It’s the time of year where we count our blessings.

Teachers and students at one Region 8 school are blessed by a volunteer with a heart of gold.

Her name is Val Harris and she is this month’s Gr8 Acts of Kindness winner.

Val Harris was honored as the Nov. 2019 Gr8 Acts of Kindness recipient for her work in the...
Val Harris was honored as the Nov. 2019 Gr8 Acts of Kindness recipient for her work in the community.(Source: KAIT-TV)

“I see a need and if I’m able, I take care of that need,” Val Harris, volunteer at Jonesboro Public School’s Math and Science Magnet School said. “Even if it’s just to make them smile or give them a hug.”

Harris is not a teacher or a parent or grandparent of a student here.

She’s a volunteer that, outside of time spent at school, works a full-time job working as a merchandiser for Dollar General and a few other schools. But, this is what she lives for.

“It makes me feel like I have a purpose,” Harris said.

“She doesn’t ever think about what she needs,” Jennifer Steimel, first grade teacher at Math and Science Magnet School said. “She’s always got everyone else’s interest at heart.”

And that is how Steimel and Harris met.

She saw Jennifer carrying her young children, two of them in car seats, by herself into church and just knew that she had to help.

“At that time, I was going through a struggling time in my marriage,” Steimel said.

Divorce followed and Jennifer needed to get re-certified to be a teacher again.

"She came and was there through everything. I mean all the hard points in my life,” Steimel said. “I tell her all the time I wouldn’t have weathered the storms without my anchor.”

And she’s a lifeline to other teachers, too.

Clark is a third grade teacher.

“It was just put on my heart about what you all do and I thought I’m going to nominate her for this award,” Clark said.

So, on a Tuesday morning when Harris was least expecting it, we showed up.

“She’ll put every bit of it back into other people,” Steimel said. “You just know she will because that’s just her.”

This grandmother of three and mother of two is not without her own struggles.

“My father was murdered March 18th by his neighbor of 41 years over a gas cap on a chainsaw,” Harris said.

Despite the tragedy, Harris never stopped volunteering and taking care of students and teachers.

“Wow! I know,” Steimel said. “It makes you cry, doesn’t it.”

“I have a learning disability, so encouraging that kid just a little bit more. Maybe they’ll fight a little bit harder to be the person they were meant to be.”

“To have that much faith and that much heart for people is just something you don’t see very often,” Steimel said.

But, when you do, it’s truly amazing.

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