A monthly feature highlighting members of the Alliance Team
Name: Parker Blake, Jr.
Birthday: September 12
Title: SNAP Outreach Manager
Start date: February 10, 2020
Q: What is your favorite part about working for the Alliance?
The team. Our team is family orientated and allows us the freedom to be a family first organization. As a father that means the world to me. The way we come together for each other is unlike any place I have ever worked before.
Q: What do you like most about the work you do?
When we have gift cards available for families facing an emergency need for food. Delivering those, or groceries when we have the funds available is my absolute favorite part.
Q: Why is the outreach part of your work so important?
Outreach is so important because many of the people we serve are in areas of the state where transportation can be next to impossible for them. Underserved and rural areas need us to bring the support to them.
Q: What life accomplishment are you most proud of so far?
Overcoming my own personal hardships and having the drive to turn around and help others do the same makes me the proudest. When my experiences help them laugh and feel better I know I am in the right place.
Q: What’s one thing people don’t know about you that they would be surprised to find out?
That I am a very active member of my church and am the Recovery Pastor of our “Faith Recovery” Ministry.
Q: What is the most challenging project you’ve worked on at the Alliance?
I believe the call center is the most challenging project that I have been a part of here at the Alliance. Being the contact person for so many in need can be rewarding but there are several occasions that we have not been able to help clients and they all sting our hearts. We are human, errors have happened and policy has been barriers tons of times that we have no power to control. These times make the conversations hard but I am so blessed to be able to be that voice for them because I have also been there and I can listen to them when it is hard. I can speak up for them with our Advocacy teams and I know the frustration they feel so I continue to do my best to not make it any worse for them.
Q: What piece of advice would you give to your younger self?
I would tell him that what he is going through… his story… is going to be how he helps people in the future and that this kind of service to the community is how he will support his family. Then, I would tell him to be careful and to go to the VA as soon as possible to sit down for a while and get started on college faster than I did so he will have more time on earth helping and loving on people!
Q: What’s it like answering the Alliance’s SNAP helpline?
It is great most of the time because we can reach all counties and families that cannot get to DHS for the support they need.
Q: What’s your superpower?
My superpower is the way I communicate with the people we serve. I know how to relate and empathize with them. I also have a degree in social work so I call that a superpower all by itself!! 😊 #socialworkersshouldruletheworld
Q: What was your first job?
I bagged groceries at Harvest Foods.
Q: Brevity Challenge: Describe what you do at the Alliance in one sentence.
I help families with food insecurities get the resources that they need.
Q: What is one thing that you wish people knew about your job?
I wish more people knew what our clients go through on a regular basis as they await help. Poverty is such a dangerous and preventable issue that should be addressed more swiftly than it is. Once we have established that a family is in need, faster action should be in place to prevent compounding issues that happen for weeks at a time as they wait for the help to come.
Q: Do you ever suffer from emotional burnout related to the work you do? How do you cope with that?
No. Some conversations have been difficult to have to say the least, but they have always been surrounded by wins. We can get resources to people and answers to issues all day, every day of the week. These wins always remind me of why I am here doing this work and they overshadow the hard talks. I have been able to reach people that could not communicate properly the pain that they were in and because of my own experiences I heard them, stopped what I was doing, got in my truck, and left to help them on the spot. This type of aid is specifically designed and given for that exact kind of moment. This work is for people hurting, made possible by generous people, and I get to deliver it. I am so proud of what I do.
Q: What advice would you give someone who finds themselves in need of food or shelter?
Ask until you find the people looking to help someone like you. We are here and we are looking for you too!
Q: What place do you consider your hometown?
Sherwood because I graduated high school here, but I am an Air Force Kid and Veteran, so the earth is my turf!
Q: What’s the last concert you attended?
Q: Favorite movie?
Forrest Gump – Don’t judge me.
Q: What at the top of your bucket list?
Raise great men and get in a nice RV with my lady and go wherever she wants, whenever she wants.
Q: Tell us about your family!
My wife and I have 4 sons. I come from a military family and I could write a nail-biting book about all of this.
Q: What do you secretly fear?
Time. Not having enough of it.