Event Honored Community Luminaries, Young Scholars
After being interrupted by the pandemic last spring, the annual Dr. Matthew Walker, Sr., Legacy Breakfast returned in 2021 in a virtual format that drew a record-breaking crowd.
The event, which benefits Matthew Walker Comprehensive Health Center (MWCHC), celebrated the legacy of service that is synonymous with the center's founder and namesake. Today, MWCHC operates three locations - North Nashville, Smyrna and Clarksville - and provides physical, behavioral and dental care for nearly 17,000 children, women and men each year. The centers take the 'comprehensive' part of their name seriously by offering health education, socialization for seniors, wellness classes, nutritional counseling and community activities to nurture body, mind and spirit for those they serve.
"We are excited to once again gather as a community to recognize Dr. Matthew Walker's legacy," said Katina Beard, CEO of MWCHC. "It is an honor to continue Dr. Walker and Michelle B. Marrs' vision for accessible and affordable healthcare in 2021 and celebrate the community leaders who also support this vision."
2021 Award Recipients
The Dr. Matthew Walker, Sr., Legacy Award was presented to James E.K. Hildreth, PhD, MD, president and CEO of Meharry Medical College and a member of President Joe Biden's COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force. "Dr. Walker elevated medicine itself by what he did and how he did it," said Hildreth. "He inspires me on a daily basis. For me to receive this award and to be mentioned in the same breath as his name, I'm genuinely telling you this is one of the most cherished awards of my career."
Harold Moses Love, Jr., PhD
The Michelle B. Marrs Advocacy Award, named for MWCHC's visionary former CEO and community advocate, went to Harold Moses Love, Jr., PhD, Tennessee State Representative and pastor of Lee Chapel AME Church. Love was selected for his tireless work on behalf of his community, constituents and congregation. Under his leadership, Lee Chapel has stepped up again and again to serve the larger community. Never has that been more true than in 2020 when the church partnered with the city and public health entities to assist with tornado relief, COVID-19 testing, addressing food insecurity in the wake of financial hardships and ensuring underserved communities had access to vaccines.
2021 Scholarship Recipients
Four Meharry students won scholarships in recognition of their outstanding work. The Dr. Matthew Walker, Sr., Legacy Scholarships were awarded to Aliah Fonteh, a second year medical student, and Aalieyah Billings, a third year dental student. The Michelle B. Marrs Legacy Scholarships were presented to Ashley Leon, a first year Master of Science in Public Health, and Melissa Bassett, a first year doctoral candidate.
Coming off a tough year, the 2021 theme was "Shifting Gears: Preventing Burnout and Building Resilience in the COVID Pandemic." Charlene Dewey, MD, Med, MACP, professor, assistant dean for Educator Development and director of the Center for Professional Health at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, delivered the keynote address. An expert on overall wellbeing, stress management, burnout and resilience, she discussed the ethics of self-care and how stress and burnout undermine a culture of safety.
Dewey outlined the six sources of burnout as being work overload, insufficient reward, unfairness, breakdown of community, value conflict and lack of control. To build resilience, she said to address the things that could be controlled: self-care through healthy eating, exercising, getting enough sleep, tending to relationships, feeding faith, engaging in hobbies and making time to do whatever feeds the soul; managing energy in all forms including physical, emotional, spiritual and mental; building emotional intelligence by focusing on improving self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills of listening and conflict resolution; and practicing mindfulness through meditation, prayer, art, journaling or another outlet that trains attention.
Honoring Dr. Matthew Walker, III
Just days after presenting awards in his grandfather's name at the annual Dr. Mathew Walker, Sr., Legacy Breakfast, Nashville lost a philanthropist, scholar, educator and community activist with the sudden death of Matthew Walker, III, PhD.
In addition to his copious volunteer work, Dr. Walker was a professor of the Practice of Biomedical Engineering and an associate professor of Radiology and Radiological Sciences at Vanderbilt University School of Engineering. A Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, he also served as associate director of the Medical Innovators Development Program at Vanderbilt.
A statement on the MWCHC website noted, "Matthew lifted the tides around him with every conversation. His long-term support of our health center ensured the continued legacy of his grandfather Dr. Matthew Walker, Sr. in word and deed. Our thoughts, prayers, and deepest sympathy are with his family, today and always."