Getting Clean and Giving Back

This Lions knows what it's like to be in a bad place

Lion Greg Parr sees the faces of the homeless on the streets of his town every day, but what separates him from the many who drive by, is that he stops.

Three Lions stand by donations
At N2N, those in need can find clothes, hot meals, and sack lunches.

The executive director of the nonprofit organization Neighbor2Neighbor (N2N) in Raytown, Mo., was homeless for 3.5 years. He lived in abandoned buildings, struggled with addiction, and never knew what the next day would bring until a church reached out to help him.

Now 63, sober for 26 years, and president of the Raytown Lions e-club on the south side of Kansas City, Mo., he sees addiction as the largest cause of homelessness. How do you get people off the streets? “You help them into recovery,” he says.

Weekly, Parr takes people to AA meetings, helps others get into treatment, and checks in on those in the recovery process. ‘’He’s a Godsend. He reached out and helped me get into detox three years ago,” says recovering addict Latisha Robinson. “No one’s done what he’s done. He’s been there with me every step of the way, and that random act of kindness completely changed my life around,” she says. “He is somebody who does the right thing for the right reason.”

At N2N, those in need can find clothes at their clothing pantry, hot meals, and sack lunches to take home. Most of all, they’ve found a friend in Parr.

He credits the Lions clubs in the Kansas City area as well as the Philippine Nurses Association of Greater Kansas City for their help in collecting clothes for the pantry, peanut butter and jelly for sandwiches, and more. Knob Noster Lion Tim Storms became friends with Parr at district Lions meetings. When Storms’ club east of Kansas City planned to help Parr’s weekly feed for the less fortunate and homeless, it turned out that club members were all working or otherwise committed. Storms was available. By himself, he cooked and delivered 30 pounds of ribs, 40 pounds of mashed potatoes, plus corn and baked beans, and then helped serve about 125 people. “I’m not the hero here,” he says. “These people are the true saints in the Neighbor2Neighbor program where Greg sets up and feeds the homeless. I’m not. I just volunteered to help because I was taught to help anyone when you can. The real heroes are the people like Greg who are here every week.”

With the help of Kansas City World Outreach Lions and the nurses, N2N provides an annual Christmas Eve breakfast and health fair for the community. Along with a hot breakfast, they offer vision screening for kids, diabetes tests, chiropractor services, and drug treatment referrals onsite. Warm clothing, care kits, and sack lunches are there to take home, as well as toys for the children.

World Outreach Lion PDG Patricia Alcy Malkmus, widely known as Lion Alcy, is a big proponent of what Parr’s doing. She felt it important that he get to know the service of Lions, and for the Lions to know him, so she asked him to speak at one of their club meetings, then recruited him to join. “Lion Alcy? Oh, she’s good at recruiting,” says Parr. “She got me.”

Recovering alcoholic and addict Willie Vaughn credits Parr for helping him look at his life and change it, but also to look outside himself and help others. “I feel in my heart that he’s preparing me to do things that need doing. I’m so grateful for him,” says 58-year-old Vaughn, who rides with Parr to weekly AA meetings. “He is a blessing to whoever allows him into their life.”