When Anne and Gordon Parker moved to the Little River area seven years ago, he joined American Legion Post 186 as an Air Force veteran, she became active in Legion Auxiliary Unit 186 and now is the president of the American Legion Auxiliary Department of South Carolina. Her state presidency is only one of her several civic and charitable activities.
The state Legion Auxiliary traditionally champions The President’s Project. “She picks something near and dear to her heart,” Anne Parker says. Her selection was the Re-integration House of the Veterans Welcome Home and Resource Center in Little River.
A former residence on Highway 57 is being remodeled to accommodate up to eight veterans in the process of re-entering civilian life. The building will also be the center’s headquarters. Kris Tourtellotte says 75 to 80 percent of the work was completed last week by several dozen volunteers from Home Depot and the community. Tourtellotte anticipates opening the center in January 2015.
“My theme is honoring women’s military service,” says Parker. She chose that “because of the daily sacrifices of my daughter and daughter-in-law.” A son, daughter and both of their spouses are all active duty Army captains. Her daughter met her husband in ROTC in college in New York and Parker’s son met his wife in an Army officers’ course.
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Recalling her route to the departmental presidency, Parker says, “first I was state chairman for national security, which is an auxiliary program to support our active duty military.’’ She was also the department’s chaplain and junior and senior vice president.
Anne Parker is selling candy bars as one of her fundraisers for the Re-integration House project. “We’ve already raised about $2,000 and I hope to double that by next May,” which is when her term as state president ends. As she travels the state to hold district meetings, she also offers a lapel pin to Auxiliary members.
Nearly all military veterans like their coffee, Parker says, and on her travels she is collecting coffee for the Re-integration House and for the Veterans Affairs hospitals in Charleston and Columbia. She is also collecting toiletries.
Parker also is the founding president of the Grand Strand Blue Star Mothers, which started in 2008 began working together with the auxiliary unit. On the national BSM level, Parker has been financial secretary and treasurer and currently coordinates volunteers in hospitals of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
In addition to the Legion Auxiliary and Blue Star Mothers, Parker is chairman of the board of North Strand Helping Hand and has been treasurer of North Strand Housing Shelter since it started in 2010. She is secretary of the Rotary Club of Little River and recording secretary of the North Myrtle Beach Woman’s Club.