President/CEO of the Exchange Club Carl Perkins Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse
Story by Lyda Kay Ferree, The Southern Lifestyles Lady. Photography by Woody Woodard.
Pam Nash is a graduate of Chester County High School. She received an Associate Degree and a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Services from Freed-Hardeman University in Henderson and a Master’s Degree in Counseling from the University of Memphis.
For the last 33 years Pam has been President/CEO of the Exchange Club Carl Perkins Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse. In addition, she plays the piano and is Director of Music at the First Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Humboldt.
Some of her many honors include the Grace Broadcasting Angel Award in 2006, and in 2013 she was named winner of the Charter Business Impact Award. She was a graduate of Leadership Jackson in 1998 and a WestStar graduate in 2012. In August of 2018, Pam was selected by the Jackson Area Business and Professional Women as the 2018 Woman of Achievement. Pam received the WestStar Make-A-Difference Award in 2014, and she was the Sterling Award recipient in 2018.
Pam has been married for 46 years to Tim, a retiree who owned a steel fabrication business and was a welder by trade, and they have two sons: Shawn, who is a Federal Criminal Investigator, and Nathan is a dentist. Pam has six beautiful grandchildren.
VIP: What is the mission statement of the Center?
Pam Nash: The mission of the Center is to provide support to families in preventing and dealing with child abuse in West Tennessee and to help both parents and children meet the practical needs of preserving and improving the quality of family life. The primary objective of the Center is to protect children and help those who have become victims of child abuse.
VIP: Share the history of your organization.
PN: Members of The Jackson Exchange Club, a local civic group, attended a National Exchange Club convention in 1979. The national group was choosing a national project, and child abuse prevention was selected. The Jackson group returned with a desire to have the first Child Abuse Center in the nation.
About that time a child died as a result of child abuse in West Tennessee. Carl Perkins saw a photograph of the child and wanted to help stop other children from being abused and also provide assistance for those who are victims. Through his personal contacts with and through the Jackson Exchange Club and the work the Club had done through the state government, the Exchange Club-Carl Perkins Center opened its doors on October 4, 1981. It was the first licensed Child Abuse Prevention Center in the state of Tennessee and the fourth in the nation. It is now the largest of its kind. People from other states visit our Center and learn how to establish their own Centers.
Our Center was the third Center to be accredited through the National Foundation of Exchange Club Centers, and it holds the highest level of accreditation. The Center is also accredited through the National Children’s Alliance.
VIP: What are the chief goals of the Carl Perkins Center?
PN: One goal was listed in our long-range plan and remains a focus goal — to eventually have a Center in every county in West Tennessee outside of Shelby County. We now serve all twenty counties and have locations in all but three of those counties (The three counties without a Center are Benton, Lake, and Obion.) In the next 5 years we hope to see this goal completed.
Another goal was to have therapists available in all of our counties. We now have therapists and victim advocates available for every county. Last year we started a program for adult survivors of child abuse. We plan to implement this program in every county.
The last few years the Center has seen more severe cases of physical and sexual abuse. We use Trauma Focused-Cognitive Behavioral Therapy with our children and find it to be very effective.
VIP: What changes have been made since you became President/CEO of the organization in 1986?
PN: I was the sixth director of the Center in those first five years. The Center’s first location was an old dorm room on the former Union University campus off of College Street. We kept the diapers, food, toys, and office supplies in the dorm’s shower. The budget at that time was $112,000. The Center had just received its first two grants and had four employees. The board had just completed its first Five-Year Long Range Plan for the agency. We now have 26 locations, and our budget is now $5.3 million.
The hardest thing at the time was raising money to keep the doors open. The second hardest thing was trying to keep the volunteers from burning out and recruiting more volunteers to help. The Center was saving lives and helping children. Many of our beloved soldiers like Carl Perkins have gone on, but their dedication and work for the cause lives on through the Center’s successes in the lives of children and families who have been and are being helped by the Center.
VIP: Describe a typical day for you as President/CEO of the Center.
PN: There is no typical day in my life as President/CEO of the Center. I welcome each day as a challenge and an opportunity to do my best at whatever it is I am charged with doing that day. I don’t see my position as a job, but as a mission to help God’s children. I feel honored and privileged to be a part of an organization that makes a difference in the lives of children every day.
VIP: What’s new at the Carl Perkins Center?
PN: One of the major goals that we have now is to get Dyer County Center established. We are really focused on creating an Advisory Board and opening a Center that will service their children. We had a building that was partially donated in Weakley County, and we just completed the renovation of that building. We will have an Open House during Child Abuse month in April. One of our long-range goals was to find a facility in Crockett County. We have just completed the renovation of a building there also. Our long term goal is still to have a Center in every county. We are down to three counties, so we are making progress.
VIP: Discuss the Center’s three chief annual fundraisers.
PN: The Center has three main fundraisers. The largest fundraiser is the Circles of Hope Telethon held in mid-August. Cousin Tuny and Carl Perkins hosted this telethon for years. The first telethon raised $10,000. All West Tennessee counties participate. The funds go to direct services. Our goal is to do as well as we did the previous year. This year the telethon will be 35 years old.
The second largest fundraiser is the Blue Suede Dinner & Auction, which celebrated its 25th anniversary on Saturday, February 23 at the Carl Perkins Civic Center. All monies from this event benefit the children.
Thirdly, the Andrew Jackson Marathon will take place on Saturday, April 6 downtown near the Farmers’ Market and the AMP. It will be held rain or shine. Danny Crossett, who owns Performance Running, is the event coordinator. It is the 10th oldest marathon in the country. Approximately 350-400 runners from all over the country as far away as California and Pennsylvania participate in this marathon for adults. The funds go to the Jackson Center and are used for therapy for the children and for general operation. We encourage the runners to donate a teddy bear or other stuffed animal that we can use for our children going through therapy. This race is a Boston Marathon qualifier. For more information and/or to register, visit www.andrewjacksonmarathon.
What To Know
Exchange Club Carl Perkins Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse
213 Cheyenne Drive, Jackson, TN 38305
(731) 668-4000 | Hot Line: (800) 273-4747