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Mothers, others brighten young lives

Between canoeing, camping, horseback riding and carwashes, Veronica Parker doesn't have much time for getting her nails done.

But Parker, who works in human relations at the University Area Community Development Center, will have to find time after receiving a Manicures for Moms package from the Millennium Mentors of Tampa Bay.

Her involvement with the +Spin Girls Club (that's "Positive Spin") and all those activities is why you don't find Parker pampering herself, but she's not complaining.

As volunteer coordinator for the group, she helps provide support for girls and their parents.

"The girls keep me going," Parker said. "I raised two daughters of my own, and I always thought that if I kept them busy, they wouldn't have time for all that other junk."

Not only does Parker employ the same formula with the girls in the club, but she's using that approach with her granddaughter, who just got accepted into the International Baccalaureate program at Williams Middle School.

Parker began caring for her granddaughter after her daughter and son-in-law had to relocate to West Palm Beach for a job. Keeping her in Tampa meant keeping her in the IB program at MacFarlane Elementary.

It's just another selfless act that makes Parker so deserving, but she deflects that praise by talking about her own inspiration.

While growing up, Parker participated in the Episcopal Young Church program in Tampa and received nurturing from Altamese Hamilton. Now she offers the same kind of love to the girls in her program.

"I had someone in my life who did this for me, and I always thought it was the most wonderful thing," Parker said. "I always said I wanted to be like Mrs. Hamilton. That's how I got started working with the kids.

"Hopefully, they will have the same memories of me that I have of Mrs. Hamilton."

Overall, Millennium Mentors honored 50 mothers with gift packages that included manicures and pedicures from University Mall's Nail Trap, four passes to Regal Cinemas at University Mall and a 12-ounce coffee from Barnie's.

• • •

From decorating picture frames to making cards, former Buccaneer Mike Alstott and his wife, Nicole, helped kids at All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg craft gifts for their mothers on Friday.

Alstott also gave autographs to the kids and signed items for the moms.

But his primary goal involved giving the kids a diversion from the health challenges they face every day.

• • •

Finally, a salute to Plant City mother Latarsha Warren. When she was 15, Warren and a friend who was in foster care made a pact to adopt a child.

Now Warren and her husband, Jason, have gone a step further, adopting five children, including four siblings through the Heart Gallery, a program run by the Children's Board of Hillsborough County and Hillsborough Kids Inc.

Jason has left for basic training with the Army, but Latarsha remains upbeat about Sunday.

"I love Mother's Day now," says Latarsha. "The children give us love and respect. They hug you 50 times a day."

Hopefully, every mother gets 50 hugs tomorrow.

That's all I'm saying.

Mothers, others brighten young lives 05/07/10 [Last modified: Saturday, May 8, 2010 1:13am]
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