If the name Pearlie Harris sounds familiar, there’s a good reason. The Center for Breast Health at Bon Secours St. Francis Health System is named in honor of Pearlie Harris, for her endless dedication to making a difference and extending her personal mission of faith, hope, and help to those in need. Open since October 2011, the state-of-the-art center brings advanced breast imaging technology and an expert staff that offers compassionate, convenient care and rapid results together in one comfortable, calming setting. Although Pearlie herself never had breast cancer, she uses her platform to help those who have been affected by the disease.
In September 2012, the center rolled out their Mobile Outreach Mammography Unit (MOM) to address the #1 barrier to women’s breast health: access to screening. The MOM unit brings critically-important breast health screenings to the uninsured, the under-insured, to churches, community centers and workplace health fairs. Traveling throughout the Upstate, the MOM unit proactively engages under-served women with vital services such as mammography screenings and education on breast self-exams. Through this mobile ministry, the Pearlie Harris Center for Breast Health is able to reach women who cannot come to the center, and women who need the compassion of a healing ministry.
Pearlie Harris’ journey with Bon Secours St. Francis Health System began in 1994. After retiring from her teaching career with Greenville County Schools, Pearlie did not want to be idle and so began volunteering at St. Francis. The hospital’s mission “to bring compassion to health care and to be Good Help to Those in Need®, especially those who are poor and dying”, rang true with Pearlie and she thought it was a good place for her to lend a helping hand and give back to the community. Pearlie began her volunteer service with St. Francis working the reception desk. She then went on to serve as Eucharistic Minister before being asked to serve on the Internal Review Board was asked to serve on the St. Francis Foundation Board to share her wisdom and community knowledge. In 2009, Pearlie served as Chair of the Board of Directors for St. Francis Health System – the first African-American and the first woman to serve in that role!
In addition to the vast support she has lent to St. Francis, she also has been instrumental in leading the Greenville Mardi Gras Gala, a signature event which raises thousands of dollars for critical needs throughout the Upstate. She has also served on the board of St. Joseph’s High School for more than a decade, she served two years as President of St. Mary’s Woman’s Club and has given leadership to boards of Urban League, Operation ShoeHorn, Greenville Chorale and Greenville Symphony. In recognition of the vast contributions that she continues to make, Pearlie was named Catholic Woman of the Year for St. Mary’s Church, Greenville.
Prior to beginning her journey with St. Francis, Pearlie Harris was a champion for diversity and education. After earning her undergraduate degree at Barber Scotia College and a Master’s degree in Education from Furman, Pearlie touched the lives of countless children through her 37-year career in Greenville County Schools. She taught in all-black schools such as Washington High School and Burgess Elementary before integration, and later, was one of the first teachers involved in the Greenville County School District’s Challenge program for gifted students. For Harris, the best part of being a teacher was “the enjoyment of seeing children learn. And you have to have a love for the job, too.”
Please join us in congratulating this 2019 Upstate Black History Maker!