Lydia Parker has been going to the Covington Y since the early 2000s, but a decision to run in the annual Cheerios Challenge seven years ago led her to where she is today as the Y's Volunteer of the Year.
At first Parker, a lifelong Covington resident, went to the Y just to work out, but in 2006, after she ran in the Challenge, executive director Louly Hay-Capp asked Parker to help coordinate the volunteers for the event.
"When Louly asked me to help coordinate the volunteers the following year, I was eager to do so. The Cheerios Challenge is one the of the key fundraising events for the Y Partner With Youth campaign. PWY helps to provide financial assistance to those who can't afford the full price of Y programs, therefore allowing any child or family in our community to develop skills and a healthy lifestyle through the many programs offered by the Y," said Parker.
"I love the Y and the environment it provides for families to get healthy together. I love the mission of the Y, the people who are involved and the commitment to make a difference in our community. I volunteer at the Y for all of these reasons."
Membership director Kacie Brown said that Parker was chosen by the staff at the Y who work with the volunteers and receive suggestions throughout the year.
"The person chosen always stands out as the obvious candidate who goes well beyond what is asked of him/her. We also look for a volunteer who truly embodies the character values of the Y - caring, honesty, respect and responsibility.
"Lydia has been working with our Cheerios Challenge community event for six years, coordinating more than 120 volunteers each year for this event.
"While the work she does is excellent, it's the way she works that makes her so unique and special. Lydia is one of the most loving and gracious people; she genuinely wants what is best for those with whom she comes in contact. If you work with her as a volunteer or are a participant in our race, you know that Lydia's beautiful smile and gentle way of dealing with people are what have made the event such a great success. We are so fortunate that she is a part of the Y family and can not thank her enough for her service and dedication. Our community is a better place because of Lydia Parker," Brown said.
As for Parker, she volunteers to give back to the community she has called home throughout her life.
"I volunteer at the Y for a number of reasons. I know that when I do, I am helping to give back to my community and to make a difference in the lives of those the Y touches. I also love the people. We have the absolute best volunteers each year for the Cheerios Challenge and they are the reason race participation has grown each year. This year we had more than 1,100 participants and 125 volunteers. Many volunteers return each year and faithfully fill their designated spot along the race route or in the race registration area. I love seeing familiar faces and working together to make the Cheerios Challenge a success."
Parker is the daughter of Ruel and Linda and has a brother Adam, sister-in-law Carrie and three nephews.