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Shirley Ann Cummings Parks

She was born in Cincinnati, OH.
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Shirley A. Parks has dedicated her entire life to helping those who are in need and being an ambassador for Christ. She has demonstrated her Christian values in every aspect of her life. Shirley was born Shirley Ann Cummings, in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1934. She was the youngest of three children of Oscar and Susan Cummings. Her siblings were Alfred and Arnold Cummings.

Life in Cincinnati was hard in the thirties. The Depression left scars on the family. Shirley's parents divorced when she was young. In 1940 Shirley's mother remarried and moved to Buffalo, New York. Shirley attended Buffalo Public Schools #31 and Hutchinson Central High School. Shirley left high school at the age of 17 to marry Joseph Parks of Lake Providence, Louisiana. Five children were born from this marriage: Joyce, Brenda, Joseph, Donald and Ivan. Shirley raised three more children, in addition to her five. She raised two sisters whose mother had died of a heart problem. The girls were 7 and 12 at the time that they joined the Parks family. Shirley said that she promised their mother that she would care for them until they turned 18; a promise she kept. Shirley also raised her 14 year old nephew.

All of Shirley's children were educated in Catholic schools. Shirley was a member of St. Benedict the Moore R.C. Church until it closed. She was president for four years of the Ladies Guild, treasurer for three years, a Eucharistic Minister and a member of the Evangelization Committee. Following the closure of St. Benedict's, she joined St. Martin de Porres R.C. Church and was active in the congregation's efforts to build a new church. She also continued in the Eucharistic Ministry from the years 1986-2003. Shirley was a committee member of the Boy Scouts of America, Pact 213, at St. Mary's of Sorrow RC Church. She is currently a member of Blessed Trinity Church and will soon be a Eucharistic Minister at that parish.

At age 42, Shirley went back to school to complete her high school diploma. She received a GED from the Educational Opportunity Center. After acquiring her diploma, Shirley attended Millard Fillmore College and Carson College at the University at Buffalo. She planned to enter nursing. However, after two years of study, she realized that she wanted to work in a health care facility, but not in nursing.

Shirley is employed at Millard Fillmore Gates Circle Hospital in Buffalo, New York. She is the official hospital greeter. Shirley has been a dedicated employee of the hospital for 25 years. She originally started as a clerk in the Admissions Department. Shirley was the first black employee ever hired in the Admissions Department at the hospital. She returned to school at Bryant and Stratton to improve her secretarial skills. Through the years Shirley's job title has been changed to better utilize her unique talent to welcome and put at ease every patient and visitor that walks through the doors of Millard Fillmore Gates Hospital. She is known for sending patients and families off to surgery or an office visit with a sincere smile, warm touch and her famous "may blessing be with you and yours." Shirley has the gift of discernment and she knows how and when to pray for someone. She always has a word of encouragement.

Over the years, Millard Fillmore's administrative office has received numerous letters from patients and visitors expressing their gratitude and appreciation for having the opportunity to have been in Shirley's presence. Shirley has been recognized numerous times for her contributions to the hospital. She has been described as "an ambassador of good will for Kaleida Health". Some of her awards and honors include the Black Achievers in Industry Award in 1999. More recently she received the Kaleida Health Legend Award in March 2003. She has been mentioned in the Buffalo News' Everybody's Column and was nominated as the Sweetheart of the Year by Channel 7 News in February 2001. She is currently serving as the president of MECCA (Millard Employee's Charitable Contribution Association), which is an employee assistance program designed to assist the employees of Millard Fillmore Hospital with financial aid during a personal crisis. This is her third time as president of the Association.