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The Honor Is All Mine: Receiving the 33rd Annual Volunteer Award

Since 2012, I have been a mentor to three kids, Tonzaih, Tyson, and Tirena.

You might have seen their pictures on social media or caught one of our hilarious snap stories (@eparker.photo1).

Taylor and I spend almost all of our free time hanging out with them. Every Wednesday we pick them up and bring them to our home where we make dinner together, review homework and other school assignments and share countless laughs. We never let them leave without a new memory and a packed lunch for the following day (complete with a pick-me-up note, of course). They even participated in our wedding recently. Tyson held our vows, Tirena held my ring and Tonzaih held Taylor's ring.

Over the past four years, they have taught us kindness, forgiveness, resilience and patience. And when I got the news from Melisa with Franklin Children Services about winning their 33rd Annual Volunteer Award, I was speechless. See, people are always quick to tell me how much the three of these kiddos learn from the two of us and how amazing we are as mentors. But all I can ever really respond with is how much they have taught us and how amazing THEY are.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to attend the awards ceremony since I was in Tennessee at a photography workshop. However, Taylor accepted the award on my behalf and my mom taped the whole thing. Taylor perfectly captured what the three of them have meant to us and our journeys and the simple fact I get to spend my life with the person who puts these wonderful humans first is unbelievable.

The point of this post isn't to gloat over the fact that I won an award. Anyone who knows me knows I'm not one to draw attention to myself. Most photographers aren't :-)

It's to give insight into my heart. If you and I have ever spoken in person, then you've probably heard me tell stories about each of them. How Tonzaih wants to be a Sports Agent or maybe go into the Marines (he'd wear a tie every day if possible). How Tirena gets nearly all A's and really just wants to succeed in life. Or how Tyson wants to be a police offer and make a positive impact on his community.

Taylor and I are so lucky to have these three in our lives and if you are interested in joining the Franklin County Children's Services Mentor Program (or your local children's services program) I'd be happy to meet for a cup of coffee or tea to share some reasons why. Or just skim through these and take a look for yourself:

We will be taking them to Florida for our first ever out-of-state vacation, thanks to the Fidler's for opening up their summer spot. So be on the lookout for some really great beach photos coming soon!

All photos are taken by Emma Parker Photography.

For more information, please contact Emma at

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