A Spotlight: Cherokee County’s Services for Older People
I recently chatted with Tim Morris, the Director of Cherokee County Senior Services, about his leadership style and future plans for Cherokee County. Morris embodies the role of a fearless leader. From one project to the next, he continues to put his community first by assessing their needs to ensure high quality living.
“The only way you can lead is to not be afraid of doing the things you assign others to do. That’s the only way you can build a foundation is through that understanding,” said Morris.
Megan Malasarte: What were your initial goals when you became Director of Cherokee County Senior Services?
Tim Morris: One of the things for me was having an adequate amount of physical resources to better provide for the seniors in our community. I didn’t feel like we had that. For me, it was obvious that I was going to make that one of my priorities. You don’t get something if you don’t ask for it. I wanted to be able to get information out to the community about what our needs were.
Another part of my goals focused on establishing policies and procedures to better equip Cherokee County’s services and programs for older people. I firmly believe in having back-ups, all the way down to my organizational chart, and having a back-up person if need be. It’s been about changing the face of the program from its past.
Now, I hope for us to build a wellness center for the seniors down the road.
MM: Would you share a favorite project you’ve worked on at the Canton Senior Center?
TM: The storage facility is exciting for us. It’s three thousand square feet, and we built it last year. After finding out that one of the seniors didn’t have toilet paper, we started to order a surplus of it every few months to give to older people as needed.
We then started to receive donations from multiple donors in the community. These donations consisted of Depends [adult diapers], wheelchairs, support toilets, and more, and eventually, we realized we needed somewhere to put these things. When someone needs any of these items, we can loan them for use and then accept reusable items back when no longer needed. It’s helped so many people within the community.
MM: What’s another favorite project so far, and why?
TM: One day, I watched two of my home delivered meal staff members unloading meals off the truck in the rain and taking them inside the senior center. They were getting drenched, but they stayed with the task the whole time. So I went to the Cherokee County staff person that oversees the community block grant funding about installing a portico or overhang, even showing pictures of the staff as they were transferring those meals.
Little things like that make a difference. You must go for things, and I am not afraid to be persistent in asking. I’m referred to as the “CBG King” here, meaning “community block grant”.
MM: Which project has been a favorite among the older people in Cherokee County?
TM: It’s not a project as much as it’s restructuring. Through my experience with senior centers, you can hire the wrong person, and they won’t have the closeness with their clients or this ability to love them or have compassion towards them. Getting the right people in the right jobs is what has affected the seniors in the most impactful way. To have a leader that they know cares about them is what’s important.
MM: What motivates you in your role as Director of Cherokee County Senior Services?
TM: I’ve been here almost five years. Everything I do here is for this population. It’s not for myself, not for my staff, but for the people we serve in this community. When I got here, they were running out of space and one thing that stood out to me was that home delivered meals was having to use borrowed space. There was a lot of conflict between coordinators. I didn’t like that, so I changed the schedule. That’s where the plans came in for the building expansion [that is now underway].
Between the Canton Senior Center building expansion and fulfilling his role as Cherokee County Senior Services Director, Tim Morris still manages to pursue his other passion: golf. He plays a round of golf every Wednesday afternoon with fellow Cherokee County directors. They share common ground in their love for improving their community and for this sport. “It’s been very helpful because we talk with each other about what each of us can do to help,” says Morris.