Calvin Parker gets emotional when he starts thinking about the people he has helped over his many years of volunteerism. It is in his heart to do it, he said.
Parker has been a member of the Orangeburg Lions Club since 1975. Lions clubs are powered by compassionate men and women with a desire to serve through action, and Parker is proud to be one of them.
Whether he and his group are buying eyeglasses for the needy or paying for an eye exam, the members' work extends from a desire to serve others.
Parker is also a longtime member of the First Baptist Church of Orangeburg, where he has served as a deacon, trustee and as a member of several committees. He is especially proud of service to more than 100 individuals every Thursday as part of the church's soup kitchen.
It is his penchant for being friendly, generous and considerate of others that has earned him the designation as the exemplification of kindness as part of the Orangeburg County Community of Character initiative.
He said he was surprised by the honor but took it all in stride.
"I was quite shocked. I'm getting old. So I guess everybody is trying to thank me for all I do!" he said, laughing.
Parker said kindness was instilled in him from a child. His parents were the late Herbert and Mary Parker of Orangeburg.
"It's just treating everybody like you'd like to be treated. It was always instilled in me as a child to be kind to everybody. It was always, 'Yes, ma'am,' and 'No, ma'am,' but it seems like that's kind of a thing of the past these days," he said.
Parker said being raised in a kind and loving home made a difference in his life.
"I was raised in a home where everybody was kind to each other. Of course there were rules and regulations. Back when I was a child, you got your hiney spanked if you didn't behave," he said.
Parker said the church soup kitchen is an opportune time for kindness to be displayed.
"We feed about 150 people. We call it a soup kitchen, but we've served ham, macaroni, beans and rice and desserts. It's Sunday dinner every Thursday. It's not soup and a sandwich.
"And we try to show kindness to those people. We let them sit. The preacher comes out and does a little devotion, and then we actually serve them at their table. We're showing them some courtesy. You don't know what kind of day they've had," he said.
He said his 43 years of service with the Lions Club of Orangeburg is equally fulfilling and is a chance for him to show kindness as well as compassion for others.
"Every year during the first month of December, I head up the collection of gifts from the members for the Orangeburg Area Mental Health Center. I've spearheaded that every year. They look forward to our gifts," he said, noting that club members, including himself, will be participating in the local Salvation Army's Red Kettle campaign to help raise money for the needy.
"We used to do it when Belk's was downtown. It's been going on for years. It used to be a competition between the civic clubs to see who could raise the most money on the day that we did it.
"Most of the things the local club does is buy eyeglasses for the needy, or pay for eye exams. If somebody needs cataract surgery or something like that, we send them to our state office in Columbia, and we all made donations to support that," Parker said.
He was recently honored with a Melvin Jones Fellow award at the Lions Club meeting on Nov. 19 for his work with the club.
Parker retired from Mayer Industries Inc. after serving 42 years as the company's IT manager. He now serves as a part-time bookkeeper for Tire Service Company in Orangeburg.
He also serves on the board of directors for the Orangeburg County Council on Aging and the Orangeburg Kings, Daughters & Sons, an elderly boarding home in Orangeburg.
He said he doesn't plan to slow up his volunteer efforts anytime soon.
"I enjoy it. It's in my heart. I get fussed at by my wife and children about being too busy sometimes," he said.
Parker and his wife of 28 years, Salley, are the parents of one son, three daughters and one granddaughter.
"They've all done well," he said, noting that he taught his children to get an education and work hard in life.
"They all work hard. When it's time to play, they play hard, too, but they don't let it interfere with their work," he said.
Parker said his own volunteer work will continue. He encourages other people to show kindness and love to others, too, in their own way.
"There's so many ways to volunteer. I've been retired five years. I was a Mayer 42 years and was actually doing a lot of this stuff then, too, but I do it more now because it seems like once you retire, you're busier than when you worked.
"You're just not getting paid for it anymore, but you get paid for it in a different way," he said, smiling.
He praised the OCCOC for its efforts to spread good character throughout the community and looks forward to reading about the Citizen of the Month, who the organization recognizes for showing good character.
"I think it's a great idea. We need things like that in Orangeburg and in the world today. Even in our country, you hear so much negative stuff. But we can make a difference in our own little corner of the world," Parker said.
Individuals interested in nominating a Citizen of the Month can visit the OCCOC website at www.orangeburgcharacter.com.
'It's in my heart': Community of Character honors Parker for kindness
December 24, 2018 Times and Democrat article (reprinted with permission)
Article by DIONNE GLEATON T&D Staff Writer