Kim Haar and Rebecca Parker of Cutler Bay had been friends since high school and had gone into business together some years back, but assisting soldiers overseas and experiencing personal tragedies inspired them to join forces in helping others in a big way.
Initially sending care packages to soldiers overseas as part of Operation Gratitude and hosting a variety of fundraising events in support of that organization, the need to help was brought closer to home by a series of events, and Parker- Haar Charities Inc. was formed.
In January 2010 they hosted “Sammy Jo Day in the Park” to raise much-needed funds to help the family of Samantha Jo Meerbott, a 14-year-old who died in a tragic accidental shooting. They were able to help not only with the burial expenses and other costs, they also provided the community with much needed gun safety awareness information and 1,000 gun locks.
Six months later tragedy struck when Becky lost her husband Bobby, a Coral Gables Fire Fighter, in a horrific accident at their home. That left her feeling lost and in need of hope, so her friend Kim suggested that they could host a fishing tournament in the memory of Bobby. Two months later, Parker-Haar Charities presented the first annual Hook for Hope Dolphin Tournament at Black Point Marina supporting families in the face of tragedy.
Kim Haar said that she is thankful to be a part of the charity to give back to the community when tragedy strikes.
“It can hit any of us at home when we least expect it,” Haar said. “It happened over and over for us and unfortunately we’ve lost a lot of close people. We’re able to help those families during that time that they may be out of work, whether it’s funeral expenses, just covering bills or medical bills. This is not our business that we pay ourselves income from, this is something that we do to keep alive the memory of Bobby Parker.”
The Hook for Hope Dolphin Tournament became an annual event. The fifth one is scheduled for Saturday, July 18. Rebecca Parker found emotional support herself in reaching out to others. Sponsors are sought to participate.
“I’m just very thankful that my husband lived his life helping people,” Parker said. “He was a firefighter and that’s how he lived, and he did die in a tragic way. That’s why we decided that when people have tragedies we were going to give back.
“I had a lot of people come and help me, from the fire department, and friends, but I know that there are a lot of people that don’t have that support. So I’m very grateful that we can be that support in Bobby’s name. Unfortunately we can’t stop the tragedies, but we can make it a little easier for people when they do happen.”