“I just label myself as God’s servant, someone who doesn’t mind being a witness for Him because God has done wonderful things in my life and I have accepted Him,” Harris said. “No one put a gun to my head and said, ‘Walter, you’d better serve God.’”
“I couldn’t do all these things without Him in my life,” he added.
Harris says he’s always been a person driven to help others in Calhoun and Gordon County — the only place that he calls home.
“I have a passion for people and for getting people to come together,” Harris said. “People ask me, ‘Walter, why don’t you move to the city and make more money and do things there?’ And I tell them, ‘I have a passion for the city of Calhoun, and the people here.’”
A positive role model in schools
Harris, a native of Calhoun, is also a 1983 Calhoun High School graduate. He graduated from Kennesaw State in 1987, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business.
Following graduation, he worked as a teacher’s aide for three years in Calhoun. He later did some substitute work in the Calhoun City School system.
Harris was offered as a special education instructor position at either the high school or the elementary school, and he chose to work with youngsters.
“I was a substitute for a long time and this position came open and I applied. The great thing was they said, ‘Walter, we have two positions, which one would you like to have?’” he recalled.
He described the experience of teaching as very rewarding and a job that requires a lot of patience and a love for students.
While at Calhoun Elementary School, he worked with students with special needs and disabilities and said he learned a thing or two from them.
“People think kids that have a learning disability can’t do anything, but they can. Just give them a push, give them encouragement, that’s all they need. I really loved those kids,” Harris said.
He currently works in marketing for Global Research of Calhoun and has been there since 1997.
His inspirational broadcast
While his day jobs have changed over the years, one thing that has remained constant is his inspirational Sunday radio broadcast that has been going strong for more than a decade.
“My ministry is my broadcast,” he said. “People, white and black, call me at the radio station and ask me, ‘You are a minister, aren’t you?’”
“People who don’t want to go to church, this is their church. They call me and say, ‘Walter, I don’t go to church, but your broadcast is my church and you encourage me.’
“When I’m on the radio I want to encourage people. We’ve got so many people who are down and out, people who feel that life is not worth living. On my show I play music, but I also want to encourage people.”
Local residents can tune into the program, known as the Walter Harris Gospel Show, on the airways by tuning the dial to station 900 AM or 101.7 FM Sunday at 3 p.m.
Harris said he decided to begin the show one Sunday listening to another inspirational broadcast.
“I was lying there and something came to mind that said, ‘You can do this.’ God was speaking to me saying, ‘You can do this,’” he said.
He went up to the radio station, WJTH radio, and made the arrangements to buy the air time and has been on the air ever since.
“If I didn’t have Christ, I wouldn’t be able to do this,” Harris said. “Most of all, I give all the glory and praise to Almighty God for allowing me to continue to bring good gospel music into homes each Sunday afternoon.”
“Words cannot adequately express the joy, enthusiasm, and gratification I experience preparing to bring the best in gospel music to you by radio. I pray that the music I select for you is a blessing and inspiration,” he said.
Unity in the community
Harris said he’s also devoted to bringing racial unity into Calhoun and Gordon County, between all creeds and races. For the past few years, he has coordinated special programs for the community.
“I don’t see color and class in people,” he said. “People are just people to me.”
He serves as the Black History committee chairman and as chairman of the annual local Martin Luther King Jr. celebration, and he organizes local programs for the community with speakers, musicians and luncheons.
In 2002, he launched a friendly competitive basketball game for adults to participate in for Black History month.
Since then, the tournament has grown and has even featured former Stephens High School cheerleaders and basketball players.
“It’s very festive,” Harris said. “We have the cheerleaders and the teams, a score board, referees and the gym is packed.”
Now that the annual basketball game has gained popularity, Harris calls it the Black History month All Star basketball classic.
One recent change to the tournament is youth basketball games for kids, ages 6 to 12. Harris hopes to have enough participation to form two teams.
He said it will be open to any child, and the first practice is Feb. 27. Anyone interested should contact him at 706-307-0353.
A mission to help others… keeps going
Harris’s lifelong dream is to eventually form a second chance outreach program for those coming out of jail.
“I would love to start a program for people who get out of jail that never have anything to do,” Harris said. “A ‘before you go back to the crime program,’ a stopping place, for them to come, a last stop facility or an outreach kind of place,” he said.
“I think everyone deserves a second chance or sometimes a third chance. One day I will find a way to start something here and find a place for people who need that kind of outreach,” Harris said.
One thing that may surprise people about Harris is that he’s OK admitting he’s a Mama’s boy.
In fact, he credits his mom, Lula Mae Harris, 80, for instilling in him a passion for people and a good work ethic.
“She’s the source of my strength and she’s a prayer warrior and I love my mother,” Harris said.