Chicago's Claudia Parker joins Wonder of Women, WonderNews Contributor - Her Story Writing is a
Claudia Parker is a storyteller. Her passion for sharing stories creatively is reflected in her work as an Author, Freelance Journalist, Photographer and Cinematographer.
A path she says isn’t directly related to her previous background in banking or her education. She holds a BA Degree from Benedictine University and an MBA Degree from St. Xavier University.
The trajectory of her life changed on December 19, 2008 when she learned that her 52-year-old mother had passed away from congestive heart failure.
In a previously published article in Jet Magazine, Claudia wrote, “Upon collecting the shattered pieces of my heart, my husband, Don, and I left our Chicago home with our 15-month-old daughter, Donae, for my hometown of Terre Haute, Indiana, in the middle of a blizzard!
Once we arrived, we managed to muster smiles for relatives, while exhaling through selections with a funeral director. We exerted every effort to maintain composure for five days, until mom was buried on December 26th. Purchasing her casket on Christmas wasn’t exactly the gift I’d had in mind. And, if you think that’s undesirable, things only worsened.
While we were in Terre Haute for nearly a week, Chicago was being plummeted with ice and snow. As a consequence, our pipes froze and burst in three places, spewing water all over our newly constructed home. Nearly everything was destroyed–leaving the house uninhabitable. It had to be gutted down to the studs and rebuilt.”
“I’ve lost my mother, my home and nearly all of my possessions in one day!” I pondered. How will I ever get through this?”
God spoke to my heart and said, “Write!”
Initially, it was just a few letters to show my appreciation to the organizations who aided us during our time of crisis. Those three letters resulted in miraculous outcomes. The first recipient was Wayne Goldberg, the CEO of the LaQuinta Inn & Suites, which is where we stayed while our house was being rebuilt. “First, let me express my appreciation for you taking the time to write us,” said Goldberg. He then continued with other encouragement ending with, “I am enclosing a Free Night Certificate.” That certificate, plus several upgrades to suites accompanied with the points earned during our seven-week stay, accumulated to nearly two weeks of complimentary nights.
The second recipient was Allstate Insurance. Linda Fields was one of our three claim adjusters, “Allstate is so moved by your story they want to film it,” said Fields. Within a matter of days, we had Freelance Producer, Reba Meshulum, and her film crew in our living room.
“Your story has spurred an overwhelming positive reaction. It was shown to over 70,000 of our employees and agents, your family has inspired them to continue to put our customers at the center of what they do,” said Meghan O’Kelly, a member of the Allstate Enterprises Communication Team.
The third recipient was Steve Munsey. The head pastor of Family Christian Center in Muncie, Indiana. I didn’t know if he’d even get it being that FCC has over 20,000 members. I assumed he probably didn’t read his own mail. Nonetheless, while I was sitting in one of his pews, he began to read my letter to his congregation from the pulpit as a testament to God’s grace to bring people through difficult times.
Those events marked all the “signs and wonders” I needed to confirm that God wanted me to share more than a few letters. He spoke into my spirit and said, “Testify!” Which precipitated my memoir, Becoming a Mother, While Losing My Own.”
Claudia said she felt liberated after sharing her story. She began working as a newspaper reporter and columnist shortly after her book’s publication six years ago. She explained, “There were so many people living within my community with these great stories, they didn’t have a platform to get their stories told, so I gave them mine.”
Claudia’s work has been featured in the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Jet Magazine, The Reporter, Regional News and many more. She’s also a speaker. She’s shared her story at conferences, churches and several media platforms. She said her most memorable was being a guest of the TD Jakes Show in November of 2016.
Before launching Claudia Parker Portraits June of 2017, Claudia spent two years as Director of Communications and District Photographer for the Evergreen Park Elementary School District 124. In her first year of service she was granted the Distinguished Service Award of Excellence by the Illinois chapter of the National Public Relations Association.
“I enjoyed working for D124, but I enjoy working for myself even more,” she laughed.
Claudia learned about WOW after she wrote and published one of our very own, two-time retreat attendee, Christy Rutherford’s story. It was Christy that referred our WOW Founder, Veronica Very, to be featured in Claudia’s Column. A true connection ensued.
"Claudia's heart as a journalist/storyteller is in direct alignment with the mission," said Veronica Very, WOW Founder. "We are thrilled she has joined our team as a WOW WonderNews contributor. Her stories have already added rich value for our readers," Very adds.
Claudia resides in the Chicagoland area with her husband of 16 years and two beautiful 7 and 10 year old daughters.