Patrick Morris’ first significant volunteer experience since moving to Miami, FL was at the June 1991 Jimmy Carter Habitat for Humanity Project in Liberty City, Miami. While volunteering during the community-wide event, Morris was grazed in the head by a drive-by shooter. Morris returned to the project bandaged and continued to volunteer. His upbeat and mature response to the shooting focused the media on the positive work being done by the more than 400 volunteers on the project.
Since that project, Morris has gone on to volunteer for many organizations and even helped establish one. He volunteered as a wish granter for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which grants wishes to children with terminal illnesses. He served as President from 1992-1996, during which Make-A-Wish grew from granting 120 wishes a year to granting almost 400 terminally ill children’s wishes a year in South Florida. He spends many hours speaking on behalf of Make-A-Wish and raising money to continue its special work. He was elected again in October 1999 to serve on the National Board of Directors to a second three-year term, but continues to grant wishes to kids in the community.
In 1993, Morris was instrumental in founding an organization called Hands On Miami (HOM), which provides flexible volunteer opportunities to mobilize busy individuals. HOM has grown under his leadership and commitment as Board President to encompass more than 3,000 volunteers throughout Miami-Dade County. A monthly calendar lists more than 50 projects ranging from children’s reading programs, senior programs at nursing homes, environmental issues, homelessness and many other direct service projects. The projects, scheduled after-hours and on weekends, fit the hectic lifestyle of busy individuals who want to make a difference in the community, but on their own limited time.
HOM has expanded the program services to include a Business Partners Program and Corporate Volunteer Council, as well as a Family Volunteer Program. Morris was instrumental in negotiating an innovative partnership between HOM and the United Way of Miami-Dade County to enhance individual and corporate involvement in identifying and meeting community needs through volunteerism. Morris continues to be a volunteer for the organization and often spends week nights and weekends on volunteer projects.
Morris also continues to give his time to several Miami area organizations: he serves as chair of Mayor Alex Penelas’ Marketing Council; serves on the boards of Kids Voting Dade County and Partners in Education Broward County; and serves on the State Board of Leadership of Florida.
“Pat has made an impact on our community through action and service that has all been on a volunteer basis,” remarked Honorable Steven Leifman, County Court Judge, State of Florida. “He has shown a love for our multi-cultural community and worked hard in every endeavor to make it a better place to live. Our community is a richer, better place to live because of his tireless efforts and dedication to involving people in solving the needs of our community.”
Morris, who lives on Miami Beach with his wife Stacy, serves as Director of Community Relations for HIP Health Plan of Florida.