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Reba Harris teaches a class at the Gilead House in this December 2021 file photo.

A line of visitors stood in the entryway of the Kokomo Art Association’s downtown gallery. There was New Orleans-style jazz and a table of refreshments, but numerous visitors jumped into a line before perusing the gallery’s February exhibition.

The line led straight to Reba Harris, founder and executive director of The Gilead House. Next to her sat a pile of glossy-covered paperback books.

Her first book, titled “Living Life After the Fires of my Sorrows,” was released at the reception, and she spent several hours chatting with people who came to purchase an autographed copy.

At the age of 82, Harris doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. She’s already started work on a second book.

She’s also running a podcast about addiction, titled “Take Your Hand Off the Pause Button,” which can be found on Spotify, and she’s considering working on a talk show with a local radio station.

And she’s got a few trips planned this year.

Within the 151 pages of Harris’ book, readers will learn of the various challenges Harris overcame. It took about a year to put the story on paper.

Harris explained she was born during the Jim Crow period. She wasn’t allowed to go to city parks growing up, couldn’t swim in a public pool or go to school with white students.

At the school she was able to attend, one teacher taught eight grades.

During those formative years, she said, it always felt like she was living on the edge of Marion, Indiana.

She moved to Kokomo later on and got married. Living on the east side of town, she and her husband were shown the area wasn’t ready for them — people were leaving bombs in their mailbox and dumping gravel in their yard, she recalled.

Even today, Harris said she notices differences in the ways resources are distributed in Kokomo.

“I’m OK with problems because I address them. I’m not one to run,” Harris said. “I stand toe to toe.”

The goal of the book, Harris explained, is to reach people who feel unable to chase their goals and encourage them to follow God.

“I just want them to get up,” Harris said. “I went to college at the age of 53, I graduated from Indiana Wesleyan at the age of 57, and I opened the Gilead House at 60. That’s not an age where you usually start anything.”

Harris’ book can be found on Amazon for $17. She added people could always stop by her office at The Gilead House if they want a copy as well.

James Bennett III can be reached at 765-454-8580 or

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