Living Democracy

Parker, Ware Hold Special Place in Elba's Heart

Bryant Ware and Chris Parker from Elba, AlabamaMany of Elba’s citizens are lifelong residents. Those who grew up in the town have seen many changes throughout their lives. These people include Chris Parker and Bryant Ware. Both were raised here and attended Elba High School.

Parker, 44, can now be seen during the day working at the Elba Police Department, where he “does warrants.” After his shift, he is often around town volunteering. Restoration 154 movie nights, Elba High School events, and various churches recruit Parker to help with anything from moving chairs and tables to prepping food. But his favorite organization to work with, Parker says, is the Red Cross.

Having lived in Elba before, during, and after several floods, Parker is no stranger to the relief efforts the Red Cross provided. He says he would go to peoples’ houses after the flood waters receded to “see if they needed anything or if I could give them food or clothes.”

It is apparent that the desire to serve others comes naturally to him. No task is too big or small for Parker, and he hardly ever refuses when people seek his assistance.

Ware is often seen at Elba Church of Christ on Wednesday nights, bragging about University of Alabama football to anyone willing to listen. He lives with his brother in Elba, and loves calling the community his home. “If I couldn’t live here, I’d only live in Tuscaloosa,” he says.

But he would like to change a few things. “I’d make the grocery aisles bigger,” Ware told me. Ware, who uses a wheelchair, says it’s hard for him and others to turn around and move in between the rows of groceries in the town’s one market.

Bryant Ware with a snake in Elba, AlabamaParker and Ware shared another area of need in town. “We need a taxi,” Ware says, “so the folks who can’t get out of their house can get to what they need.” Parker agreed, telling me that it is hard for people to get their medicine or get out to socialize if they don’t drive.

With limited public transportation in the county, it makes a person who does not have their own car completely reliant on other people. Ware and Parker are focused on helping “old folks,” as they say, but it was apparent to me that they too could benefit from a taxi or public transport system in Elba.

Despite challenges facing both Parker and Ware, they are consistently cheerful, friendly, and helpful everywhere I have seen them. They both have a clear love for their community and the people around them.

Always willing to lend a hand, or a joke, or a jab at Auburn football, this pair of friends has inspired me to continue trying to seek areas to serve. They provide unique insight into challenges facing people with disabilities, particularly in rural communities, which I think needs to be heard.

The city of Elba is made up of many great men and women, but I think Parker and Ware hold a special place in everyone’s heart. I know they do in mine.

By Caroline Allen
Last Updated: July 01, 2015