By MARCUS WILSON
Life has its ups and downs when it comes to being married, taking care of kids, and attending college. There is no other couple that can attend college together and do so much for the community as CCC’s James and Amber Parrish.
The couple has served the community, their church and Cumberland County College for three years. The couple participates in Student Senate, helps their church, and even adopted three Collingswood boys.
The family’s motto is, “A family that prays together stays together.”
Amber works for Student Senate, the Bursar Office, and TV Channel 9 Cumberland County College Connections. She is currently serving her third year as a CCC senator and works diligently with children in the community. James is the President of Student Senate at Cumberland County College, and is a member of the PTK organization with a 3.9 GPA, EOF Work Study worker, and Assistant Softball Coach. James is a CCC Student Senate chair, and mentors youth in the community. Both students serve other leadership positions throughout their community, church and school.
The Parrish’s adopted three boys, TreShawn, Terrell, and Michael, in 2005. These boys were neglected and abused by Vanessa and Raymond Jackson.
According to a People Magazine 2009 article, From Hunger to Healing-Child Abuse, Real People Stories, “James Parrish was given the opportunity to meet the boys at New Jersey’s Division of Youth and Family Services, where he mentored them.” The boys were denied medical care and food by their original adopted parents, Vanessa and Raymond Jackson. Bruce Jackson, the boys’ brother, saved their lives in 2003 when a neighbor saw him looking for food in their garbage can. The State pressed charges against the Jacksons for aggravated assault.
Ray Jackson died of a stroke after he and his wife had been indicted on the charges. In 2006, Vanessa Jackson was convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison, but was released in 2010. When asked about adopting, Amber says, “Regardless of whether I am the adopted parent of the children or not, I don’t think of my boys any differently, I love all my boys as if I birthed them. What I could say is I’ve learned a lot, by parenting older boys, before I actually encountered issues with my biological son, Christopher. It’s been a blessing to have my boys in my life, they have taught me so much and I have taught them so much and I love my babies.”
James also adds, “Number one, through us, love is unconditional and if you have enough love, you can make it through any situation. And for everyone to understand, my kids started off in a traumatic experience.
Their life story started with tragedy, they were in a loving family with a dad that loved them, a mom that loved them, friends and family that loved him, people at the school that loved them and they’re able to grow. The one thing I could say about life is that for anyone, it’s not about how you start, but it’s about how you finish.”
When asked how they would want people to remember them, Amber shares, “I want students to remember me for being Amber, an older student coming back to set a good example for the younger girls that are coming in straight from high school or who have been out of high school for awhile. I want them to look at me and say, “ ‘if she can do it, I can do it’.”
The quote that would best describe Amber is, “Don’t let your good be evil spoken of.” James adds, “I would love to leave a legacy behind. When students hear the name James Parrish, or they think about struggling and not being able to complete courses, they think of me and say I was a role model. “I hope to be a role model that individuals are able to model their life after; and understand that there were a lot of adversities I had to face, but I was able to earn my degree and finish at the top of my class. “
He added, “No matter what they go through or no matter what life brings them, they should never let themselves feel as though they can’t make it.” The quote that best describes James is, “If you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything.”
The Parrish family stands on the Word of God and if it had not been for God, they would not have made it thus far along with their four sons. Amber says, “Without God, we would not be here, without God, there would be nothing. The Parrish Family is a family that stands behind the love of Jesus Christ. Without Him, Amber says they would not be in school or have the Parrish boys. All four boys, our family, we stand for nothing but Jesus Christ.”
Amber and James Parrish have been a great help in our community and with God’s help, they won’t be slowing down anytime soon. This powerhouse couple will still stand on the Word of God and assist CCC and the community when needed.
The couple are role models for young men and women, and non traditional students, who want to earn a degree. Amber Parrish was raised in Stone Mountain, Georgia and James Parrish was raised in Hopewell, New Jersey. James and Amber met in Lithonia, Georgia in 1998. The couple have been married for 12 years, but been have together for 13 years.
The Parrish family resides in Vineland, New Jersey with their four boys, TreShawn, Terrell, Michael and Christopher (CJ). James, Amber and TreShawn have been students at Cumberland County College since 2009.
CCC studentst James and Amber Parrish.
PHOTO COURTESY OF James Parrish