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Celebrating Local Black Heroes: Charles Parker

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Michigan is proud to celebrate Local Black Heroes throughout the year. Sign up for our to get updates in your inbox and learn more about the impact of local heroes in your community.

Charles Parker is the founder and CEO of Charlie’s P.L.A.C.E., whose mission is “to recognize the potential in the village for youth and families by providing programs through education, athletics, and skill development.” For over 50 years, Parker has worked with Kalamazoo youth to help develop our community’s future leaders.


Parker is widely recognized in the Kalamazoo community as a man on a mission. The Kalamazoo Gazette even dubbed him “Mr. Everything.” “I see myself as a community outreach worker,” he explains, and that’s exactly what Parker is. Parker helped establish the Lincoln-Y.M.C.A. Program on the Northside of Kalamazoo. Additionally, Parker founded the Kalamazoo Black Achievers program, and is head coach for a number of sports. Parker’s outreach and influence affects all of Kalamazoo through his deep commitment to serving the community youth.


Parker encourages the younger generation to “be ready- not getting ready. If you’re not ready, you will miss out on opportunities.” The educational and academic programs Parker provides at Charlie’s P.L.A.C.E. help youth be just that: ready. From reading initiatives to judo classes, Parker has created an environment that empowers youth to lead the charge into a brighter future.


Parker is passionate about creating a village for children to be raised in. This powerful notion is a founding pinnacle of Charlie’s P.L.A.C.E. He explains, “My legacy through Charlie’s P.L.A.C.E. will keep the village/community working to develop our young youth to be our future leaders. It’s all about today’s youth.” He shares that his biggest inspirations in life have been his mother, Vernell Parker, and Jesus Christ.

Charles Parker’s mighty influence on Kalamazoo youth, paired with the passionate ways he encourages our community to be the village, are the exact legacy he will leave behind one day.

Children and youth in Southwest Michigan waiting for a mentor just like youPlease click here to find out how you can make a BIG impact.