This week began with the stunning and heartbreaking news that Sandra Parks had passed away. The world lost a very precious soul far too early and far too suddenly. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and all of her friends and coworkers who felt such love for her.
Sandra was the Director of the Bureau of Certification and Quality Outcomes for the Mississippi Department of Mental Health (DMH) and had previously served as the Director of the Division of Children and Youth Services. You can read more about Sandra in this loving tribute written by Wendy Bailey, Administrative Services Deputy Executive Director at the DMH.
Sandra spent a lot of time with us at Families as Allies, especially when she was working with Children and Youth Services. She often insisted on coming to our office to meet so that she could see everyone and just catch up. I remember many meetings where I was talking about what seemed like a hundred ideas at once and Sandra was calmly writing things down and organizing her thoughts into lists.
About a month ago, I reviewed some of the DMH’s written information about parent peer support and Families as Allies in planning for training. I was struck by how well organized it was. I imagine it started with one of Sandra’s lists. I also imagine we will all be reminded of her thoughtful ways, her careful planning and her concern for families over and over as we reflect back on her life. She led with kindness. We are grateful to her and are heartbroken to lose her.
We have spent time this week sharing thoughts and memories about Sandra. These are some of the thoughts that were shared:
“I will always remember her humility and warm spirit.” – Coreaner Price, Family Partner
“Sandra Park’s meekness will live forever.” – Henry Moore, Director of Family Driven Practice
“She was an angel.” – Betty Turner, Contractual Family Partner
“It is yet another heartbreaking day. I used to tease Sandra about us being sisters because my maiden name is Parks. We are losing some true icons in the Mississippi mental health system.” – Kimberly Parks Jones, former Board President.
“Sandra’s smile and her genuine and supportive personality will forever be remembered.” – Nikki Flippins, Contractual Family Partner