True beauty that shines from within – Lu Parker

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Lu Parker, on set with her rescue dog, Monkey.

Not only is Lu Parker a stunning, natural beauty, she is a multi-faceted talent. She is a journalist, author, former Miss USA, animal advocate and a former teacher. As an Emmy and Genesis Award winning journalist, you can find her anchoring and reporting the news in Los Angeles, California on KTLA. Lu has won two Emmys for her work in the television industry. She has also been honored with two Genesis Awards from the Humane Society United States. She was recognized for her outstanding reporting and creative portrayals of animal protection issues including investigations into Puppy Mills, Elephant Abuse, and Beagle Lab Testing.

In her free time, Lu is an advocate for homeless animals. In 2010, she created Lu Parker Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping homeless animals, and at risk teenagers. We are so honored to include Lu in our “Giving Back Q + A Series.” She is a gorgeous example of a woman radiating beauty from the inside out.

1) Who was your role model and inspiration as a child? Why?

Honestly, I never remember having a role model as a child besides my amazing parents, but looking back now, I was always a little obsessed with President Abraham Lincoln. Chances are I didn’t know why at the time, but likely his words and actions moved and inspired me as a young Southern girl growing up in South Carolina.  Today I admire people like Jane Goodall and anyone who steps out of their comfort zone to do good work for others.

2) Why did you create Lu Parker Project?

I started volunteering at the South L.A. shelter in 2009 and realized a lot needed to be done. I saw first-hand that shelters needed serious help. At first, I was helping to clean cages, and walk the dogs, but then I took it to the next step creating Lu Parker Project.

As a former high school teacher, I wanted to include youth so we could help to educate them about being humane to all creatures. Our first project was Project Paint. We remodeled the lobby at the South Los Angeles shelter. Volunteers painted and at-risk youth created murals for the walls. We also photograph dogs and cats and share their photos and information on social media. Project Picture has been a huge success!  We also partnered with Found Animals creating a school art project that offered students the opportunity to create art and tell a story why they believe all animals are important.  I cried at that event, too.  (Get me a tissue!)

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3) Of all of the volunteering efforts that you have organized, can you share one experience that is most memorable and lights up your heart?

The time we spent redesigning and repainting the lobby of the South Los Angeles Shelter stands out for me.  To watch dozens of Lu Parker Project volunteers come together and spend days of their own time painting, creating, mopping, and more made me realize people do want to help.  The morning of the Lobby Grand Opening was one of the highlights of my life.  I was so proud of each and every one who had been a part of the process.  I truly believe the renovation brought light and encouragement to the shelter employees and volunteers, as well as, those visiting the shelter.  For me, I would get goose bumps every time I walked in the door!  Our Project Picture also brings me to tears when I see the homeless dogs and cats being photographed by our volunteers.  They know we are tying to help. 

4) You are so generous with your time and actions. How do you balance this with self-care and time for yourself?

Hey, life is busy.  We all have commitments, including family, friends and work.  It’s not always so easy to figure out, but I believe if you are doing something you are passionate about, nothing feels like work.  If you find a purpose, life makes it easier for you.  Another way I balance life is by making lists.  It keeps you organized.  My Mom taught me that trick.  Currently, I am learning to meditate.  The practice slows everything down, and makes you realize what’s important, and helps you to feel grateful.

5) Do you have any advice to parents as to how to encourage their children to volunteer and think of others?

Well, I am not a parent so that may seem weird for me to give parental advice, but I would like to suggest to parents or anyone who is caring for a child to show generosity through your actions.  As you know, your children watch and often mimic what you do.  My parents didn’t necessarily volunteer when I was young, but they did give back like at Christmas we would take presents or a Christmas tree to low income families.  They also allowed me to care for injured animals in the neighborhood.  They never denied me to chance to love and care for the less-fortunate.  That’s where I learned generosity.  Actions speak louder than words.

To learn more about Lu, please visit http://www.luparker.com/index

To learn how to volunteer and get involved with her amazing projects, visit http://www.luparkerproject.org