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‘Quiet warrior’ honored
(Published December 6, 1999)
By KATHRYN SINZINGER
Minnie Parker calls them her "community children" – but they include even the parents of some of the 40 to 45 kids who know her as the after-school snack lady in the city’s Edgewood neighborhood.
"Everybody knows her," said Dona Farris Jenkins, community resource manager of the Edgewood/Brookland Family Support Collaborative. "She’s one of those quiet warriors who prefer to be behind the scenes, but oftentimes the people behind the scenes are the people who do all the work."
Parker’s years of service to the Northeast Washington community where she has lived for 30 years were recognized Oct. 30 when she was honored as "1999 Mother of the Year" by the D.C. Federation of Civic Associations. Jenkins’ organization and the Edgewood Civic Association nominated her for the award.
Here’s just part of what the groups have to say about Parker’s contribution to her community:
"She can be counted on to feed the hungry, seek housing for the homeless, and even network to find jobs for her community children. Mrs. Parker has stood guard over evicted neighbors’ belongings, cared for the sick and shut-in, and provided childcare for community members so they could attend workshops to find support in their role as parents. Mrs. Parker has proven that one person could make a difference, each and every day."
The petite 63-year-old mother of five, grandmother of eight and great-grandmother of two sat quietly last week as Jenkins extolled her work as "a community social worker" -- especially for her involvement during the past nine years as a founding board member of the Beacon House Community Ministry, a volunteer for its after-school study hall program and her willingness to help out wherever else she sees a need.
"The kids love her," Jenkins said. "The kids come to her with their problems, share with her things that are going on at home…and she seeks out the necessary resources to help out the family."
Parker takes all the praise matter-of-factly.
"God gave me that gift, and I try to help the kids and push them as much as possible," Parker said humbly.
Parker has the experience of raising her own children to draw on while helping others’ children. Nineteen years ago, when Parker’s youngest child was 10 and her eldest 23, her husband died. Working two jobs, including 25 years as a sales clerk at the now-closed Lerner’s clothing store on F Street downtown, Parker managed to guide her offspring – sons Monte and Isaac and daughters Lisa, Bridgett and Trumilla -- to successful military and business careers.
Monte and Isaac, both retired from Army careers, are employed in the private sector in North Carolina – Isaac works for Black & Decker and Monte runs a "boot camp" for unruly children. Parker’s daughters have all "stayed close to Mom" in the Washington area, she said – Lisa at Union Labor Life, Bridgett at the State Department and Trumilla currently attending computer training school.
A heart attack and stroke in 1992 temporarily slowed Parker, but she recovered and returned to pouring her energy into community service. She said being afflicted with lupus doesn’t even hold her back.
"It doesn’t stop me – not one day," Parker said. "I can’t sit still…. Sometimes it’s rough. Sometimes I walk up steps and stop, take a deep breath and keep going. The Lord is my shepherd."
Copyright 1999, The Common Denominator