Baton Rouge, LA (FOX44) — The Parker family, 23 members strong, has a new home. And they got it in the way that guides their lives: devotion to religion.
Mary Parker's home on W. Brookstown Drive burned down last weekend. She woke up in time to help all her children and grandchildren escape, but they saved only the clothes on their backs.
"It's been up and down," the last few days, Parker said. "But you know what? I'm great. I'm blessed, they was blessed, all of us are blessed. Nobody was hurt, my family circle wasn't broken when I looked around. So I thank God for that."
Parker held tight to her optimism, and the rest of the family did the same.
"So much going on that we can't do nothing about, but He can," she said.
Parker's pastor, Rev. Levi Wright, gave her and her family use of a home down the street for the next six months. Thursday night, the family could be found gathered in a circle in the front room singing, smiling, just like they did before the fire.
People around Baton Rouge have responded to her. Friend and stranger alike have donated money, food, and clothing.
"Just people that really don't even know me," she said. "I mean, people that know (Rev. Wright). I mean, they have been so wonderful and good. And they're still being good and wonderful."
But the Parkers still need more, especially clothing for the grandkids. Socks, underwear, school clothes, and winter coats are things that would be really helpful. Rev. Wright says they also need Christmas gifts. The grandchildren have items such as bicycles, LeapPads, and video games.
But even with all the donations she has received, Parker is still hesitant to ask for more.
"They know God is good," she said of her family. "You know, whatever He does, there's nothing that we can do about it but thank Him anyway."
Parker says she never thought anyone would show up for her if she needed support. And now she cannot thank them enough for everything they have done for her family.
"I mean, ever since the fire, somebody been doing something. And that surprised me," she said. "We say we love, but that's just a word. But we gotta have more than a word. That heart got to show.
"I just want the world to know that I love people, and Jesus loves them, too."
While Parker does not miss most of the items lost in the fire, she says she wishes she had time to save a photo of her mother.
"Really made me feel bad when I know that picture was gone," she said, "cause it sat above my head all night, every night."
But she found a different photo, which she plans to enlarge and hang above her bed once more.
Wright's church, The Greater Mt. Canaan Baptist Church, will host a benefit concert for the Parker family tomorrow night at 7 p.m. Visitors are encouraged to bring donations of clothing, money, or non-perishable food items. Parker said the family needs more beds, as well.
A bank account has also been established to accept donations in the family's name at Chase Bank, #2919072350.