Donald Parker works the crosswalk at Sunset Avenue School each morning and directs traffic in the afternoon, always with a smile and a wave for the children and passing motorists. His kindness and willing to help others is infectious, many said, making him an ambassador not just for the school, but for the entire community.
On Tuesday night, the City of Clinton presented a Certificate of Recognition to Parker, a custodian at Sunset Avenue School, calling him a “great man who has given so unselfishly for so many years.”
For those who know and see him, he’s much more than a custodian. His effort and dedication to his job — he knows each and every student, most by name — as well as his respect for others is just an everyday routine for him. Bill Scott attested to that.
Scott spoke prior to the certificate’s presentation by Mayor Lew Starling.
“He is the perfect ambassador and doesn’t meet a stranger,” said Scott, who noted Parker’s many efforts, including with the annual Kiwanis Pancake Breakfast. Scott’s wife Darby was also a teacher at Sunset Avenue, and he recalled Parker’s helpful nature in volunteering to do the “heavy lifting” for various tasks around the school.
“There is not a task you ask him to do that he won’t do to the best of his ability, and he’ll do it right now,” Scott said, noting in the years he’s done the breakfast event he has yet to beat Parker there in the morning. And Scott gets there at 4:45 a.m. “He’s just a great guy. I’m glad to see him rewarded for his kind and courteous mentality, his attitude of humility and service and his ongoing efforts to make our community better.”
Surrounded by his family and friends, Parker accepted the recognition from Starling and posed for pictures with the mayor, Scott, Sunset Avenue Principal Antoine McGill and City Schools Superintendent Dr. Stuart Blount.
“It is a pleasure to extend this expression of our esteem and recognition to Mr. Donald Parker,” the certificate stated. “(He) has demonstrated his dedication to the welfare of others and has earned the respect and affection of people from all walks of life … and contributed much to the City of Clinton and surrounding communities while giving of himself and his talents freely. Mr. Parker has exemplified a true model for others to follow and we give pause and honor this day for this great man who has given so unselfishly for so many years.”
The recognition came after several citizens and peers expressed appreciation for what Parker does at Sunset Avenue School, for not only the children and parents, but also the community, as the school serves as the location for many community events. Scott is one of the many who has taken notice.
“I don’t know who gets to take credit for him being stationed down at the corner of Sunset Avenue most mornings, but I’ll bet Mr. Parker volunteers,” Scott remarked. “He is an ambassador to everybody in this city that drive past that school. That’s what caught my eye.”
It has caught the eyes of many others, with a small gesture like a smile serving to start someone else’s day in a positive way.
“He’s waving, he’s smiling, and he’s an ambassador for the City of Clinton,” Scott noted. At the same time, he’s humble. “He likes his job and he respects himself and he respects others. I would hold that up as a leadership quality all citizens should aspire to.”
In the recognition, the city expressed its genuine appreciation to Parker for his distinguished service and extended “best wishes for many more happy years.”
Starling called it “a small token of our appreciation.”
“Thank you,” the mayor said to Parker, “for your very good and important work.”
Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.