The return of Lil Pomp: Parkers quest to keep kids off the streets|Part one: Instructions not included
Published 1:46 pm Sunday, August 23, 2009
By By BRIAN HAINES
Editor's Note: The following is the first of a three-part series about Washington native Omar Parkers escape from street life and his subsequent journey to keep the youth of Washington safe via his work at Parker Park and through the Christian Fellowship Enrichment Organization.
As a child Lil Pomp ran wild in the streets of Washington, a curious kid causing playful mischief during business hours inside his uncles restaurant on Fifth Street.
The sign read Pomp Credles Café, a very successful black-owned eatery, made famous for its beans in the 1950s and 60's.
The older residents of Washington would watch over Lil Pomp, and at times take care of him. Like Bart Simpson, the youngster had a cute but rebellious appeal. However, unlike the cartoon character, Lil Pomp grew up, and the one-time teachers nightmare became Americas.
As a teenager Lil Pomp ran wild in the streets of New York City and Cleveland, and as an adult, Omar Parker simply ran the streets.
Nearly 40 years later Lil Pomps life has come full circle like the sacred basketball he once bounced all over the country. Decades of succumbing to temptation have taken Parker on a troubled path that very few come back from.
Times are much more tranquil now. Parker resides with a lovely family and has a staunch faith in God. The one-time drug kingpin still has sleepless nights, but nowadays Parkers restlessness stems from trying to keep kids off the streets, instead of trying to conquer them.
His redemption resides on 403 Harvey Street. Thats where one can find a brick building with a few shattered windows accompanied by a bi-partisan basketball court that sports both Duke and Carolina Blue, with Wolfpack-Red bleachers. Pirate Purple is promised to be infused over the next year or so. Its here that Parker plans to hold court, literally, for the troubled youth of Washington via the Christian Fellowship Enrichment Organization (CFEO).
I want to get kids off the streets through sports, Parker said. Once I get them into the organization, I just let them know about the Lord. I just want to be able to reach these kids and let them know that they can do whatever they want in life and try and provide a safe place for them to go.
Parker, an ordained minister, founded the CFEO in 1996 and believes the lessons learned from his shadowy past can help steer the youth of Washington towards a brighter future.
Most definitely it can, Parker said. Like people say in the street, game recognize game. I had the same spirit as these kids because I went through the same thing theyre going through now. Ive been there, done that.
Parkers struggles with narcotics are behind him now, have been for a while, but says the new challenges he faces can be just as stressful as his dealings in the past.
Parker bought the self-named Parker Park in 2002. Its the same court his son Mychal, the 17th ranked prospect in the class of 2010, according to ESPNU, honed his hoops skills. His recent reuniting with God blessed him with the vision of having a Christian sports center in the heart of Washington. Unfortunately, the big guy in the sky failed to include the instructions on how to build and run it, leaving the mostly self-educated Parker in a constant battle to financially hold on to his park. Parker routinely fights off foreclosure, and is trying to gather $1,300 just to hold on to the park a little longer.
The back-and-forth struggle to find the right fiscal balance that allows him to do the much-needed upgrades on the property, while still paying the monthly statement is a daily tug-of-war on his wallet that he is slowly losing.
Weve renovated the whole building, weve made space, Parker said. We built the court outside and the bleachers. Im doing all I can with nothing. Most of the stuff Im doing, Im doing it by begging. Weve had gotten a lot of help from Metropolitan (AME). They have helped us tremendously and I would like to thank them, but its still a constant struggle.
Parker, who gets by through teaching children martial arts, is earnestly seeking help from any individual, group or organization that can provide donations of any kind, whether it be old tools, paint, athletic equipment, a helping hand, advice and, of course, financial backing would be greatly appreciated. (Anyone interested in helping can call Parker at 252-975-6742 or 216-323-1145.)
I would love to work with any group, it doesnt necessarily have to be a religious group, Parker said. It just has to be anyone or group that wants to help do whats right in Washington, and to try and help lead some of these kids in the right direction.
Attempts are made daily to reach the children of Washington, but they are usually made by people whom the real troubled teens tune out. This shouldnt be a problem for Parker. Though there is a generation gap, he still has no problem relating with todays teens.
To truly understand what drives Parker to put himself financially on the line to save children he hasnt even met yet, you must first understand his past.
(Part 2 coming in Tuesdays edition of the WDN.)