Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Florida Salutes Friend to Seniors; Clanzel T. Brown Senior Center's Coralene Parker Honored by Gov. Rick Scott

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Florida Salutes Friend to Seniors; Clanzel T. Brown Senior Center's Coralene Parker Honored by Gov. Rick Scott

Article excerpt

Byline: Beth Reese Cravey

Ever humble, Coralene Parker did not make a big fuss about winning a state volunteerism award for her contributions at Jacksonville's Clanzel T. Brown Senior Center.

Parker told her friends at the center about the honor and then, instead of basking in praise, she sang a gospel song.

"I just do what I do," she said. "I don't expect anything."

Parker, 75, was one of six people to receive the 2014 Champion of Service Award, Florida's only statewide volunteer recognition. Gov. Rick Scott and Volunteer Florida CEO Chester Spellman presented the awards at a ceremony last month.

The recipients "serve Florida's children, the elderly and students with the utmost compassion and dedication," Scott said. "I applaud them for their volunteer work to improve and help the families in their communities."

One of only two Northeast Florida residents honored, Parker was selected for being instrumental in organizing volunteer efforts at the Brown Center, Scott's office said.

"She is widely known in the community for her enthusiasm, positive attitude, leadership abilities and hard work," his office said in announcing the awards.

LONGTIME VOLUNTEER

Parker said she has been helping people as long as she can remember, in her church and in the community, even as she and her husband of 47 years, Columbus, raised four children. She has been an active volunteer at the Brown Center about 11 years, including the past two years working through RSVP, the Retired Senior Volunteer Program, one of the largest volunteer efforts in the nation for people older than 55.

She's had numerous volunteer leadership positions at the center, which served 6,618 people in 2014, according to center figures. She is currently treasurer and, to her great enjoyment, song leader.

"I enjoy what I am doing. I have been helping elderly people since I was young and now I am one of them," she said with a chuckle.

Parker, who has 10 grandchildren and one great-grandchild, hopes to continue volunteering for many years to come, "if I am able," she said.

Yvette Jefferson, RSVP manager, said the state recognition was for "a job well done."

"For many years, she has provided a consistent framework and has been a valuable resource in helping others in the community," Jefferson said. "She devotes time and energy to help improve the lives of the seniors who visit the Clanzel T. Brown Senior Center, as well as those in hospitals, nursing homes, living in her neighborhood and attending church."

'COMFORT AND JOY'

At the center, Parker plans most of the programs and provides transportation to many seniors. In the community, she often sings at funerals and events "to bring comfort and joy to others," Jefferson said, encouraging other seniors to follow Parker's example. …

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