Ask anyone who works at DPCC if they know Henry Parker, and a big smile is the first response you’ll get. It’s no wonder… he’s a wonderful friend to residents and staff members alike, he works very hard, and he’s incredibly dedicated to his work as a Recreation Therapy Coordinator.
During the growing season, you’ll often find him working in the Secret Garden, a beautiful outdoor space where special events are held, where residents can meet with family members, and where, assisted by Henry and Master Gardener volunteers, 65 members of the center’s garden club grow their own flowers and vegetables.
The garden has been a particular interest of Henry’s throughout his 39-year career at the Care Center. He not only leads the resident’s Garden Club and their weekly meetings during the growing season, he designed the beautiful pavilion where the garden club normally meets (weather permitting), a “keyhole” patio, surrounded by flowers, where families like to pose for photos, and a large terrace, where families can gather at picnic tables and benches to enjoy one another and the view of the flower garden. Though access to the garden has been limited to residents because of quarantine restrictions, Henry and Master Gardeners have continued to work in the various areas to keep them healthy and beautiful for residents and their families to enjoy during their limited outdoor visitations.
Henry connects his interest in gardening back to his childhood in Germany. His grandparents had a large vegetable garden there, where he spent a lot of time growing up. They lived frugally, but traded some of their vegetables with a neighbor for beef and ate very well.
He came to the US with his mother as an adolescent; settling first in Ohio, and later moving to Illinois where he attended Greenville College, Northern Baptist Seminary, and George Williams college, where he met his wife, and a summer job led him to DPCC, first in the woodshop, then leading psycho-social groups, and later the activities department.
When he’s not working in the garden, or planning something new for the center’s outdoor space, he’s helping the Recreation staff with ceramics, painting, woodshop or other activities for the residents.
He’s humble about it, but the contributions he’s made to the Care Center and to the lives of the residents are remarkable. It’s no wonder everyone who knows him smiles at the mention of his name.