For this week’s Woman Wednesday, AY About You sits down with Justina Parker, founder of the blog We Belong.
Parker is from Little Rock and currently resides in Maumelle. She holds a Bachelor’s of Professional Studies with a focus in Interdisciplinary Studies from Arkansas Tech University.
“After landing a temp job at Heifer International in 2012, I quickly knew that I wanted to work in the non-profit sector,” Parker says. “That became a full time position and I’ve had the pleasure of working for Duke University and Arkansas Regional Organ Recovery Agency since then and am now a Youth Market Director at the American Heart Association. This allows me to teach elementary students about heart health and raise funds for the AHA while having a lot of fun with PE teachers across the state. The slime photo [pictured below] is from the Kids Heart Challenge through the AHA. Students that raise funds for the AHA to support the mission of the AHA are able to slime their PE teachers/principal/or me and a lot missed out on that due to Covid this year so I made a video from my backyard.”
In her spare time, Parker is the founder of the blog We Belong, which “features womxn making an impact in Arkansas”.
“The blog is a new endeavor that has taught me so much about womxn in leadership and the great people we have in our state,” Parker says. “I’m honestly still figuring out the rest of my path, but I know that it will involve working hard, helping others and a lot of coffee.”
Parker explains what it means to her to be a woman.
“Being a woman is amazing and dangerous. We often get lost in trying to take care of others, but it’s about finding your voice and knowing when to display that quietly versus when to stand and make noise to make a difference,” she says. “It’s friendship, love, hope, high heels, and hiking boots. It’s the power that lies within womanhood and what we do with it that’s important. I’m so thankful for the many others that have laid the groundwork for my generation and hope to continue it,” she says.
Parker explains some of the difficulties that she has faced, as a woman, throughout her professional life.
“I’ve been very fortunate in having great leadership on my career path. One of the greatest difficulties is having children and finding a workplace or boss that’s accomodating to a doctor’s appointment or sick day because paid time off can be hard to come by,” she says. “Arkansas is still behind in the amount of pay/time mothers receive for maternity leave as well and that made it extremely difficult when I had my two boys. Rough bosses make you SO thankful for great ones and I’m very fortunate for mine now.”
Parker offers a word of advice to any women or girls who might read this article.
“Go to therapy- seriously. Even if your life seems put together or you don’t have any ‘big’ issues, therapy will teach you so much about yourself and what you want out of life. Take the time to spend with your friends, travel, and get to know yourself,” she says. “I always ask my son, ‘Who do you want to help when you grow up?’ rather than ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ in hopes that will set him on a better path for the future. Be kind but don’t take any crap. You may not always be the prettiest or smartest in the room, but you can be the hardest worker.”