Heart Work

Certain things catch your eye but pursue only those that capture your heart. ~ Anonymous

By Patricia Parker, NAMS President and CEO

2010-09-16 08:36:30

Halito, Chim achukma (Hello, how are you?)

Being of service to the Choctaw community in southeastern Oklahoma and eventually serving Indian people nationwide was the destiny of our father, Gabe Parker. He retired from the Indian Health Service after 30 years of public service. Dad was a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, as was my grandfather and grandmother, Steven and Eva Parker. My mother, Kathryn Parker, is German, Irish, English, a working mother and entrepreneur. My grandfather, Frank Brockus was a rancher/farmer and my Grandmother Ethel Brockus ran Brockus Grocery and Dry Goods in the small community of Kulli Tuklo (Choctaw meaning Two Springs), Oklahoma.

No one that lived in the community went hungry if they came in Grandma’s store, even if they didn’t have any cash. She gave “credit” to families in the community when they needed food or “dry goods” when they were “a little short” that month. I asked her once why she did that and she told me that our family was blessed and sometimes people just need a little help to make it through and they pay it back when they can. And they did.

From my family, I learned that community service and entrepreneurship are not mutually exclusive. I also learned how to walk in two worlds while staying whole and true to myself. From a cultural standpoint, I’d like to believe that I’ve taken the best of both family cultures and made one of my own. Living the balance of community service and capitalism is the pulse of my heart work and reciprocity is my framework for action.

My sister, Tonya, and I have been blessed with successful businesses and financial stability. In our cultural belief, it is normal to want to share one’s good fortune and to be of service to the community. The volunteer work that my sister and I do, plus the financial support NAMS provides to national American Indian and other non-profit organizations, is our way to walk in balance between service and profit.

In closing, there are several truisms I live by. They are:

“What goes around comes around”

“What you give comes back to you ten-fold”

and last, but not least, my favorite, “Do good, have fun, the money will come.”


So far it’s all working.

Yokoke (Thank You)