Pearl L. Finch of Bailey received the Order of the Long Leaf Pine at the annual meeting of the N.C. Council for Community Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse on Dec. 6 in Pinehurst.
The Order of the Long Leaf Pine is the highest award given by the governor. Gov. Bev Perdue bestowed this award to Finch in recognition for her many years of service and leadership in the mental health field. Dr. Leah Devlin nominated Finch for this award and she was presented with the award by Karen Salacki of Eastpointe.
Finch has been a leader in seeking and providing services for the mentally handicapped, developmentally disabled and people with substance abuse problems for more than 34 years, serving on local, regional and state boards. She first became a member of the Edgecombe-Nash Mental Health Board in 1979, assuming the position as chairwoman in 1980, continuing with service on the Beacon Center and then Eastpointe. She served as chairman from 1980 to 2010. She served through numerous reorganizations and mergers over the years to insure that everything was done to provide the services needed in the community. For more 16 years she served as member of the N.C.Commission for Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse. She was has been very active with the N.C. Council for Community MH/DD/SA programs and is a lifetime mmber of the Board of Directors.
She served as statewide president of organization from 2001-03 and is a Lifetime member of the Board of Directors. She served for years on the Board of Diversified Opportunities that provides a workshop for the handicapped. She has been recognized for her services in mental health with several honors and recognitions. She was recognized for her Lifetime Career in Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse and named an outstanding board member for the North Carolina Council for MH/DD/SA Programs.
Finch has been a member of the Bailey Baptist Church for more than 60 years and has held numerous leadership positions in her church. Professionally, she taught and served as guidance counselor at Southern Nash High School, taught at Atlantic Christian College and farmed.
Finch was a first in many instances for women in her community. She was the first woman to become a deacon in the Bailey Baptist Church, The first woman to be vice chairwoman and chairwoman of the Nash County Democratic Party. She also served on the Nash County Board of Elections and as chairwoman.
She serves on the Criminal Justice Judicial Partnership Board and formerly served on the Board of the Twin County Pride Hall of Fame.
She is the mother of two children, a son, Ray (deceased) and a daughter, Jane. She has six grandchildren and two great grandchildren.