Scholarship honors long-time mental health advocatesPublished 5:38pm Monday, June 30, 2014
For 40 years, Washington residents John and Geneva Morgan have been advocates for those with mental illness. Now, as a gesture of appreciation, Beaufort County Mental Health Association is honoring the couple’s work by creating a scholarship in their name.
The $1,000 scholarship will be awarded annually to a full time, second-year Nursing student at Beaufort County Community College. The student must live in Beaufort County and maintain a 2.5 grade point average.
“It’s just a great honor to have had a scholarship established in our name,” John Morgan said. “We’re very humbled by it. Geneva and I are both very humbled to be recognized in this manner.”
Morgan said the couple’s advocacy for those with mental illness began in 1950, when Geneva Morgan, as part of her nursing education, took part in a three-month long psychiatric affiliation at Dix Hills in Raleigh.
“She got real interested in mental health issues at that time, and down through the years, she carried an intense interest in caring for and helping the mentally ill, and those who can not speak for themselves,” Morgan said.
Geneva Morgan would go on to serve as a pediatric nurse with Dr. Dave Tayloe and Dr. Frank Stallings for 40 years, helping to establish Washington Pediatrics. In 1967, when the Beaufort County Mental Health Association was established, both John and Geneva Morgan would become advocates for mental health issues.
Since, John Morgan said he’s seen change for the positive — medications available to and services for those with mental health issues have increased, and the stigma of have a mental illness has lessened.
Bringing awareness to educationally and developmentally disabled, to those struggling with substance abuse and those with mental illness, is the role of the advocate— a role that is continuously needed, according to Morgan.
“It seems like mental health has always gotten the bottom end of the appropriations, and has always has trouble in the General Assembly … We haven’t found a heck of a lot of support in the legislature,” Morgan said. “As advocates, we can voice our opinions.”
Those opinions and the letter writing to state legislators has amassed a wealth of appreciation locally.
“John and Geneva Morgan have contributed tirelessly their time, knowledge and skills to improve the physical and mental well-being of the citizens of Beaufort County,” said Bonita Sasnett, a member of the association’s Board of Directors, in a press release from BCCC. “The Beaufort County Mental Health Association is proud to recognize the Morgans with this award.”
The first scholarship in the Morgans’ name was given to Brittany Moss, a graduate of Washington High School, a member of BCCC’s Gamma Beta Phi Honor Society and the Beaufort County Association of Nursing Students. She plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in nursing after she completes her studies at BCCC.
Moss said she was honored to have been chosen to receive a scholarship “associated with two such outstanding individuals.”
Morgan said the annual award to a BCCC student fits with his and Geneva Morgan’s advocacy effort: keeping it local for the benefit of Beaufort County residents.
“Our primary interest has always been in helping local movements,” he said.