Volunteer Spotlight: Diane Parker

12-dianeparker Diane Parker brings her considerable experience, persistence and dry wit to PAMBE Ghana. She has been working with PAMBE Ghana since the early days, recruiting her sister, Mary Ann Johnson, to volunteer at the Global Market. Recently, I talked with Diane about her life and work. — Jane Wheeler JW: I know that you work in the Global Market, but also volunteer in other ways. What keeps you coming back? DP: I like the “expressive” volunteer activities: telling everyone I can about the Global Market. I wanted to get the word out to businesses on Classen Boulevard, so I drove around collecting addresses, following up with cards and posters advertising the Global Market. It gave me a chance to spread the word. JW: Have I ever asked you to be on the Public Relations and Marketing Committee? DP: Yes and I told you no. JW: You have been involved with PAMBE Ghana from the beginning. Were you in the Temple’s living room with the group that encouraged Alice to make her dream happen? DP: I was there from the beginning, but not in the Temple’s living room that time. I wonder where I was? I knew Alice personally, but didn’t know about PAMBE Ghana’s birthing until it was born. And I knew Patti Tepper-Rasmussen and Linda Temple from the World Neighbors days, so it was natural for me to join the group of volunteers working to make the dream a reality. JW: Are you from OKC originally? DP: Oklahoma City is my hometown. After graduating from Harding, I attended OU. While I was in college, I got the travel bug and spent my summers working in projects in San Francisco, Roxbury, MA and Yellowstone. After OU, I got a job teaching in Oakland, California. Being young, I didn’t know how to set boundries, so I got overwhelmed and in too deep. It seem like a good time to vacate the premises, so I bummed around Europe for a year. JW: Only a year? DP: Well, Mom called: “Would you come home for your sister’s wedding and stay awhile?” So I did. JW: What path did you follow when you came back? DP: The city hired me to work with Roosevelt (“Rozie”)Turner. We created the Mayor’s Action Youth Organization (MAYO), a program for disadvantaged youths. I continued this work with the City of Oklahoma City, the Community Action Program and the YWCA/Job Corps from 1968 until 1974. JW: Where did you meet your husband, Charles Parker? DP: Charles was working as an investigator in the Legal Aid office, which was across the street from our office. He would come over and flirt with all the girls. He was looking for a new wife, so I took the job. After we became a couple in 1970, I convinced Charles to go back to school. This took us to Miami, Florida, where he studied industrial arts. JW: What adventures did you find in Florida? DP: We both taught school. I worked at a vocational school in Homestead teaching migrants at night. I had a wonderful time! One girl couldn’t read at all, so I taught myself phonics and taught her how to read. That was really rewarding. The plastic frantic lifestyle in Florida drove me to graduate school looking for some kindred spirits, so I went to Florida International University. There, I got a masters’ degree in public administration. Then, the Department of Defense hired Charles to teach in the base schools in Germany. We got married so I could go overseas with him. When our son, David, was old enough to go to school, I applied for a position as budget analyst with the Army. We were there for 15 years until the Berlin Wall fell. Charles’ school closed and I transferred to Tinker, AFB. After 30 years, I retired. It seemed like the right time. JW: Besides PAMBE Ghana, what are you passionate about now? DP: I like to learn by reading and taking classes. Recently, I attended a class on neuroplasticity, learning that we have a lot of choice as to what goes into the mind. I love to laugh, exercise, and listen to live music. And, travel, of course! Mary Ann and I went to Hannibal, Missouri recently. We learned all things Mark Twain. I am not ADD, but I do have ants in my pants. JW: We love to laugh with you, Diane! Thanks for sharing a bit of your life with me today.

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PAMBE Ghana is a 501(c)(3) registered charitable organization.


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