Offers of aid for Chester sisters Cherry, Hanna, Vanessa and Molly Parker are still rolling in, and volunteers organizing the effort hope the help keeps coming.
“We hope we can keep the interest going, because there’s a lot that they need to take care of,” said Barbara Schecter, a River’s Bend resident who is helping organize a yard sale to benefit the sisters.
The sisters’ father, Richard E. Parker, 56, shot and killed their mother, Cindy M. Parker, 45, in the parking lot of a local restaurant during a domestic dispute, according to information from police. He also shot Michael Dudley, 18, a recent Thomas Dale High School graduate who attempted to intervene.
Schecter got involved in the effort after she saw an article detailing the sisters’ situation in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
“I think most of us here in the neighborhood thought family had stepped in” to help the Parker sisters in the wake of the June 23 shooting, she said. But in the article, she said, she read the sisters had no help, no insurance and were faced with selling their home in River’s Bend. “It just kind of struck a note with me. … No child should … have to experience something like that.”
Tracie Akins, who is co-chairing the yard sale with Schecter, got an e-mail from Jonathan Schoepflin, who is leading the effort to help the sisters, and passed it on to Schecter, who then got involved. Schoepflin has several people leading volunteers in specific areas, such as fundraising, home repairs and legal matters, he said.
The yard sale is set for Saturday, Aug. 21, from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Elizabeth Davis Middle School, said Schoepflin, who is a teacher at the school. A car wash will take place in the school’s parking lot at the same time, he said.
In the days since the sisters’ situation was made known, a host of people have offered assistance, and some have pledged long-term help, Schecter said. One homeowner has offered to pay their electric bills for six months, and someone else has agreed to donate $800 a month to the sisters indefinitely, she said.
“Donations are critical at this point just so they can live for another month in the house,” she said.
On Saturday, a group of volunteers helped clean out and organize the attic, paint and do some yard work at the Parker family’s home, she said. Schoepflin said work at the house went well, “but we learned quite a bit” about other problems with the house, including a mouse infestation. A contractor who is helping with the effort is putting the sisters up in his lake house while the mouse problem is addressed and more work is done, he said.
“The girls are kind of having a little impromptu vacation at the lake house right now,” he said. At this point, Schoepflin said, the sisters are focused on getting the emotional support and therapy they need.
“Those kids are awesome,” he said. “The community outpouring of support has just been absolutely off the charts.”
And the calls keep coming in, Schecter said. A woman from a dental surgery office has called and offered to help, she said, and Chesterfield County’s teachers have sent information on the girls’ situation and how to help out through their network. Some River’s Bend residents will try to organize a golf tournament and auction in September, she said. And, a website, parkerfamilyfund.com, is up and running and people can now make donations online.
“It’s kind of assumed a life of its own,” she said. “I didn’t have any idea how big it would be.” She later added: “The response from teachers, from people has just been tremendous.”
Anyone interested in helping with the yard sale can contact Schecter at firstname.lastname@example.org. Anyone who would like to help in other ways can e-mail email@example.com. For more information, visit parkerfamilyfund.com.