Tamika Wade Garrison – Class of 2001
Director of Community Relations, Carolina Caring, Newton, NC; Minister
Providing comfort, guidance, and encouragement is the calling and mission of Tamika Wade Garrison, who has served as a church pastor and is presently the Director of Community Relations for Carolina Living.
“Our nonprofit organization provides care for families experiencing serious illness,” explains Tamika. “We also provide programs for those experiencing grief, veterans support, and community education. I love my position for the organization; I have the privilege of supporting faith communities and providing community programs by presenting educational programming about end of life, supporting pastors, and being involved in interagency and interfaith groups throughout our service area. My challenge and my love of this calling to ministry is the ability to educate people on the benefits of nonprofit health agencies, provide referrals to families in need of care, and help give quality of life to those who need it.
“I knew I was called to ministry my entire life, and, after serving as a Presbyterian minister in a small church in Burke County for three years, I was made aware of the opportunity to take this call. I had the privilege of serving as pastor to the oldest congregation in Burke County throughout the pandemic. Quaker Meadows Presbyterian Church will always have a special piece of my heart. Serving there helped me mature in both how I respond to challenges and in public speaking. My training at the Western North Carolina Presbytery Church Leadership School provided a great foundation for my time as a pastor as for my role today.
“I would be remiss to not mention my family’s restaurant, Tex’s Fish Camp. From the age of 12 years old, I have worked there part time. Tex's Fish Camp has been a part of helping young minds understand the value of hard work and public service since 1972. Countless EBHS students have worked there, enabling them to buy their first vehicle and pay their way through college. Although I have had other careers that have influenced who I am, I would say working at Tex’s has been the most influential and complex in helping me be ME.
“While I was a student at East Burke High School, so many teachers and administrators influenced, inspired, and molded me to become the empowered, energetic, rebellious, passionate, creative, and ambitious person I am today. Kristy Hodges was so amazing. I signed up for Early Childhood Development 2, knowing good and well I didn’t want to have anything to do with teaching children, but knowing that she had so much wisdom and personality to impart to us. Spending two years with her helped inspire me to be the strong woman I am today. Other teachers at EBHS who made an impact on my life include Jon Berry, who pushed me harder than I cared for but saw potential in me and sharpened me as an adult; Pat Draughn, who made history exciting to learn and whom I love dearly to this day; Bill Poteat, who challenged us to think outside the very small bubble of our local existence; Brian Jillings, whom I appreciate for simply putting up with my shenanigans; and George Henne, who made me love the psychology of the human mind.
“Collectively these educators and mentors like my pastor, Mel Campos, inspired me to see the world and serve it with a broad perspective. My husband and I have traveled doing international missions and are passionate about learning more about the rest of the world.
“My goals professionally are to help others understand the benefit of nonprofit hospice and palliative care. I know the value of the ministry because I have loved ones, including my own dad, who are cared for by the organization and whose lives have been improved by the care provided. My goals personally are to always be a student of humankind. We have so much to learn about one another, and the world offers so much education about how to serve one another better, more fully, and more compassionately. I love to connect people and to explore new ways of empowering others to be their best selves. My position at Carolina Caring places me in the pulpit of many churches and grants me the opportunity to experience God through many faces. I am actually living out my own dream because I never gave up on achieving it.”
Published August 2023