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Kiwanis recognizes longtime youth programs manager Beth Morris
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Kiwanis Club member Charles Kelley stands by as Beth Morris speaks after being awarded the John W. Jacobs Jr. Youth Service Award Tuesday during the Kiwanis Club of Gainesville’s 92nd annual Anniversary Celebration at the Chattahoochee Country Club in Gainesville. - photo by Erin O. Smith

The highest honor the Kiwanis Club awards went to a woman who dedicated three decades to helping children.

Beth Morris, a retired Gainesville Parks and Recreation youth programs manager, was given the John W. Jacobs Jr. Youth Service Award Tuesday night at the Chattahoochee Country Club.

The award is presented to a person who has shown their dedication to the betterment of youth in the community.

“Working with kids is one of the most rewarding things we do,” Kiwanis member Helen Henderson said.

Charles Kelley, another member of Kiwanis, spoke about Morris and her influence. Kelley had gotten to know Morris through the years as part of the sports programs his kids played.

According to Kelley, Morris is a woman who used her kind talents and resources to enrich the community around her, especially when working with children.

“She wanted to make sure all kids got a chance. It’s about all the kids, not just some,” Kelley said.

Over the years, Morris was always found on the sidelines, refereeing or handling sports equipment for the Parks and Recreation department.

“She always had a positive outlook, no matter what,” Kelley said.

Working with at-risk kids was also a passion of hers and she spent countless hours helping others, on a local and national level.

“We will all miss her,” Kelley said.

When Morris took the stage, she said she had been tricked by Julie Butler into coming.

“She told me to wear black pants,” Morris said jokingly.

Morris said it was a true honor to be given the award and she thanked her Parks and Recreation family.

“I’m not going anywhere for a while,” she said.

Noah Merck, a junior at Chestatee High School and vice president and treasurer of the school’s Key Club, was given the John C. Thompson Award for volunteerism.

The Charles J. Thurmond Youth Art Scholarship recipients were Flowery Branch High senior Brooke Blackwell, Gainesville High sophomore Delaney Benson and Gainesville High senior Jazmine Ellison.