OCEANSIDE — An uplifting ceremony at MiraCosta College Theatre announced Kay Parker as the 22nd annual Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service Award recipient on Jan. 15, for her longtime advocacy for fair housing.
The ceremony opened with warm welcomes, and inspiring choir and dance performances. The theme “back to basics” was reflected throughout the event.
Speaker Lt. Col. Reginald Haristson shared his insights in the progress toward civic rights in the military. “Young people may think it’s insignificant to see a black man standing here as lieutenant colonel,” Haristson said. “I stand here because of the sacrifices of black men before me.”
This year’s award recipient, Parker, also talked of progress made and challenges that remain. She said there are still some pockets of discrimination, and some people who fear we might collectively become complacent over the issue of equality. “I do not fear that,” Parker said. “We will not forget.”
Parker is the chair of
the Oceanside Housing Commission and has seen numerous safe, affordable housing projects through from concept to completion. Many credit her vision and leadership as a guiding force on the commission.
Colleagues credit Parker with being instrumental in pushing through the Marisol Apartments project, which provides affordable housing for persons with HIV and AIDS. Parker is noted by peers as being instrumental in educating others and gaining support for this first-of-its-kind project. “She remained calm and never engaged in negativity, simply forging ahead, much like Dr. King,” a colleague said.
Parker continues to advocate affordable housing for seniors and low-income families.
In addition to honoring Parker, seven other community volunteers and leaders took the stage to be recognized. Zondra Greene was thanked for her volunteer work at the North County Retired Military Association and Second Missionary Baptist Church in Oceanside.
Danielly Grijalva was recognized for her advocacy to improve safety for foreign exchange students.
Thelma Hendrix was thanked for her volunteer work for the Faith-Based Credit Union, North County African-American Women’s Association and Brother Benno’s Auxiliary.
Lois “Lee” Littlefield was recognized for her volunteer work at the Ivey Ranch Park Association.
Colleen O’Harra, former city councilwoman, was honored as founder of the Women’s Resource Center, volunteer for the Oceanside Museum of Art, Oceanside Charitable Foundation and Hospice of the North Coast, and leader in the 2008 Oceanside Unified School Board bond campaign.
Maria Russell was thanked for her leadership of the Eastside Neighborhood Association, and Marcus Sneed, a retired USMC officer, was recognized for his volunteer work as Scoutmaster.