A gift from the homeless

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 18, 2004

Special to the News-Herald

Holly Parker is living proof that being homeless does not mean being hopeless.

Parker was evicted from the Suffolk Shelter for the Homeless on Finney Ave. on Nov. 23 shortly before the Thanksgiving Holiday. Previously she had lived in Norfolk and her home became flooded when the pipes burst. Fire marshals tagged the home and she had no place to go, and the Red Cross was also unable to help them.

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She and her family stayed with friends, then at a hotel until she ran out of money. A friend told her about the homeless shelter, where she moved at the end of October.

Parker has six children, ranging from two to 22. She lives with four of them, and a one-year-old granddaughter.

At the time of her eviction she working both as a waitress at Fire Mountain and as a companion aid at A-1 At Home Care Services, working towards her nursing assistant certification.

Two days after her eviction, she quit her waitressing job because Social Services found her an apartment in the Chuckatuck area and she had to take a long period of time off to move into her new home.

Carien Haley, Parker’s office manager at A-1, knew what she was going through.

&uot;I used to be homeless myself,&uot; said Haley, who once lived at the shelter. &uot;I want to look out for people who are in the same situation that I use to be in.&uot;

Now Parker’s plans have changed. At the end of January she was supposed to go to school to further her education as a PCA but now she has decided to go into business for herself. This business deals with gift baskets.

&uot;I personalize and customize my gift baskets for any occasion and I will be marketing other people’s business with them,&uot; she said.

&uot;I’ve done them for real estate, health care, and other businesses, churches for speakers, housewarming and baby shower parties. There is no one or nothing I can’t make a basket for including men. I have found out those men like receiving baskets too.&uot;

Parker is writing four books about the situations she and her children have been through. She is also planning on performing in an upcoming poetry reading at the Java 149 coffee shop.

Parker said that when she wrote a letter to another local newspaper, she was ridiculed for having a cell phone. She said that she needed it to keep a check on her children so she could be reached if the babysitter or school needed her.

Meanwhile, the family is still adjusting to their surroundings, but Parker said that they still need a few things to get them started such as linen, bunk beds, bath and kitchen towels to name a few.

&uot;I truly believe that God knows where He wants us to be, at what point He wants us to be, and the place He wants us to be not only to benefit ourselves but also to benefit others at the right time,&uot; she said.

Parker can be reached at 675-1405.