A Volunteer’s Perspective: Karine Parker
Karine Parker is the Founder and Program Director of Be The Peace, Be the Hope, an organization that empowers children/youth and teachers in-at risk environments by building resilience and self-reliance and inspiring Hope and Peace through social & emotional education, and community & leadership development. Karine visited Grace House in the summer of 2018 to help us begin to address the emotional traumas these girls have experienced. Through art therapy and a special curriculum, the girls were able to gain tools that help them process their emotions. After the trip, we asked Karine to share some thoughts about her experience at Grace House.
What was your initial feeling and impression when you first arrived at Grace House?
A strong sentiment of Peace
Was there a particular girl that stood out to you?
Every girl has a special place at Grace House India. It is definitely a family of Grace. To me, each one of the girls stood out. They all stole my heart – the ones who were shy, the ones who were guarded, the ones who were joyful, the ones who were quiet or the ones who were loud. Each one of them had a special gift, the common gift was being the gift of Love. When I came back to Houston, a friend asked me if I wasn’t tempted to adopt some of the girls, I responded that it would be heartbreaking to do that and extract one of them from the Grace House family. They are all interdependent and supportive and they are stronger together. This is why the concept to have one or 2 sponsors for each one of the girls is beautiful and respectful of the Grace House family.
I also know in my heart that each one of them will make a difference in her community. We need to support them for that.
What impressed you most about the operation as a whole?
The operation is well organized with a great support system. But most of all, the love that Stacey Smith has infused in the whole operation is transpiring in each interaction with the girls, the house Mother & Father, and the community surrounding Grace House.
In what ways do you think Grace House is affecting these girls lives?
Grace House has the strength and power to change these girls lives through education but most of all through Love and Faith.
If you could gift any single thing to Grace House, what would it be?
Aside from more Be the Peace Be the Hope, the single “thing” would be Air Conditioning in the bedrooms.
Overall, how did your trip make you feel?
Joyous, Hopeful, Peaceful and wanting to come back.
What thoughts did you leave with that still sit with you today?
The joy of being able to work the program in a Christian environment, the loving presence of the Grace House girls, and the kindness of the staff and volunteers. It is a family.
In a single word, how would you describe Grace House?
If there is one thing you’d want people that have not visited Grace House to know, what is it?
We go to Grace House to give and support, but we receive so much more from the Children than what we could ever give. So, what I want to share with the people who have not visited Grace House yet is: First, I am so happy for you. Then, please go with an open and simple heart so that you can genuinely receive the wonderful Love that the Grace House girls have to give. And if you really want to discover who the girls are, all you have to do is spend time with them. They have so many stories to share and so many questions to ask, too! Look at them in the eyes with a gentle smile, ask questions too (about their favorite color, their favorite animal…), dance with them, sing with them… and listen in peace. This is where Love resides.