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Heroes, Pioneers and Trailblazers 2010 Honoree: Sharon Parker

SAN DIEGO -- They make a difference in our lives. Some are well-known activists in San Diego's LGBT community and others are working tirelessly outside the spotlight.

Ten key players in the LGBT community will be honored Feb. 26 at a Heroes, Pioneers and Trailblazers gala at The Center that is sponsored by Lambda Archives of San Diego (LASD).

In the days leading up to the gala, SDGLN will profile each of these individuals and provide our readers with an inside peak at what this award means to each honoree.

2010 Honoree and President’s Award recipient: Sharon Parker

Sharon Parker will receive the President’s Award for her many years of volunteerism and other contributions to the LGBT community, as well as a variety of other San Diego organizations.

“I am honored to be receiving the President's Award, for 'just doing what I do' with the Archives as a leader and volunteer for so many years,” Parker said. “To be a part of preserving and teaching our LGBT history has been so meaningful in my life.”

Parker began volunteering with LASD in 1991. Her dedication to service quickly led to positions on LASD’s board as secretary and volunteer coordinator, followed by a presidential term that began in 1994 and lasted for 10 years. After her term, she remained an adviser to the board until November 2009 and has never ceased to volunteer. Parker has a wealth of knowledge and is a great resource on LASD’s history.

However, Parker is not receiving the President’s Award strictly for her work with LASD. Her volunteer contributions in San Diego date to the 1980s when she worked as a phone volunteer at The Center. She also volunteered extensively with San Diego AIDS Project, was employed with AIDS Foundation San Diego until it closed in 1997 and was an 11-year volunteer with AIDS Walk San Diego.

Additionally, Parker is a long-term volunteer with Pride, was founding co-president of the San Diego chapter of GLAAD, and served as secretary and co-president for five years of Qualcomm’s Lambda Pride employee LGBT group. Over the years she also reached out to college and community groups by creating displays and assisting media – both LGBT and mainstream – with historical information and research.

“I can't imagine living my life any other way [than] to be able to be of service to others and for the greater good,” Parker said when asked why she continues to dedicate so much time to volunteering. “Volunteerism provides a certain rush of satisfaction, knowing that in some way you helped, you gave and you made a difference in someone's life and therefore your own. For me, I am a richer person for all these experiences!”

Parker was one of 12 children and although her parents had their hands full, they instilled the volunteer spirit in each of them at an early age, a spirit that continues to this day – embedded even into their family reunions, where as a unit, they volunteer at the WV State Book Festival.

Since meeting her partner more than 16 years ago, Parker has scaled back her volunteerism and has prioritized her activities to build a life together with her. However, there are countless organizations that have benefited from her volunteering and what follows is but a sample of her volunteer resume.

Parker has volunteered for Activists in Drag fundraisers, Blood Sisters, Diversionary Theatre, Gay and Lesbian Times editorial board, Hillcrest Wind Ensemble, Labrys Productions, Names Project Memorial Quilt, Paradigm Women’s Bookstore, San Diego Lesbian Press, San Diego Women’s Chorus, Shirttails Productions, Wall of Fame Committee and the Women’s History Museum. Additionally, she has supported the San Diego community via her work with public libraries and various shelters that cater to battered women, children and homeless people.

Among the many awards Parker has received are: Brad Truax Award for AIDS service, Nicky Award for Community Service, United Way LGBT Leadership Award, San Diego Pride Community Service Award, and It Needed to Be Done honoree of Women’s History Month from the Women’s History Museum.

“Being acknowledged by my peers is very touching and memorable, and I thank them for their support in all these efforts,” Parker said.

About Lambda Archives of San Diego

LASD’s mission is to collect, preserve and teach the history of LGBT people in the San Diego and Northern Baja California region. Although most of the collections date to post-1970, there are original materials dating back to the 1930s.

LASD believes that history is best served by the records and cultural artifacts of those people who are directly involved in its events, so its staff has dedicated itself to preserving and interpreting this important historical record since its establishment in 1987. LASD is an all-volunteer, nonprofit corporation governed by a volunteer board of directors and has one of the largest collections of LGBT history in the country.

LASD Honoree Selection Process

The fundraising gala -- which debuted in 2007 -- recognizes individuals, both locally and nationally, who have made a difference in the lives of LGBT persons through their dedication, commitment, financial resources and/or political participation.

The LASD board chooses honorees based on a criterion that focuses on diversity, by including individuals from diverse segments of the community and from a broad spectrum of individual characteristics such as ethnicity, race, LGBT identification, etc. As is customary for the board, nominees who had received other major honors this year or who could not attend the event, were held out for future consideration. Although no public call for nominations currently exists, the board considers any nomination from the community to be equal to those made by its members.

Previous honorees include business professionals, activists and people like state Sen. Christine Kehoe, Cleve Jones, Tom Reise, Fritz Klein and SDGLN contributor Ben Cartwright.

For information about purchasing tickets to the 2010 Gala visit SDGLN's Events Calendar.