Meet Tracy Parlin, Director of the Local Good Pantry
When there’s a way to help people love the community in which they live, Chase Oaks Church leans in. That’s a practice that Tracy Parlin, Director of the new Local Good Pantry, takes to heart.
Earlier this year, Chase Oaks was invited into discussions with a pantry that was doing great work in Richardson but could not continue. After the pantry closed, God paved the way for Chase Oaks to launch the Local Good Pantry, helping food-insecure individuals in the area to maintain reliable access to food. With enthusiastic support from the City of Richardson, the North Texas Food Bank, other local partners, the Local Good Pantry opened in November. Tracy is now leading efforts to re-imagine what the Pantry can be, with a grand opening planned for January 2024.
Get to know more about Tracy, in her own words:
Q: Where did you grow up? Where do you consider to be “home”?
A: I grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas. I have lived in Plano now for over 35 years so I consider this to be home. I do miss a lot of the beauty in Arkansas, with the natural lakes; where I spent a lot of time at.
Q: How did you come to be a Christ-follower? Where there any specific people or circumstances that made a difference in your spiritual journey?
A: There were two very influential people in my decision to follow Christ. Leigh was my best friend growing up (and we are still close friends). I noticed right off the bat there was something unique about her. She wasn’t influenced by others and was confident in who she was. Later, we became closer, and I learned that Jesus was the reason. We went to a summer camp together. One evening, at a concert, one of the band members shared his testimony and it was the first time I heard about Jesus in a relational way. I chose that night to surrender my life to Him. The second person is my mom. She has been an example to me of what living faith looks likes. She had some difficult times: her husband left her after 25 years of marriage, and my brother (her son) was killed by a drunk driver at the age of 21. Through all of that her faith remained strong. She taught me that no matter what our circumstances, God is always sovereign and always faithful.
Q: Tell us about your calling and decision to enter vocational ministry.
A: At the age of 18, literally weeks after my brother had been killed, I took a senior trip on a cruise (the only cruise I’ve been on). One of our stops was in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. When the ship docked, there was a commotion on the side of the boat. I walked over, and what I saw would change my world forever. People were throwing money and food overboard to Haitians swimming in the water below. God pierced my heart as I saw what injustice looks like in a way I will never forget. I thought, “That could be me. How would I want to be treated?” God showed me that when we are given influence, we should always use it to stand up for what is right and care deeply for people. That day, I asked an interpreter to take me to meet the people that make goods for the Haitian markets. We went deep into Port-au-Prince. I had never seen poverty like that, but I had also never seen such joy in families who weren’t derailed by their circumstances. I knew my calling from God was to stand up for the vulnerable, to be the voice for those who are unheard, and to help the overlooked to be seen and heard. From that day, God has given me opportunity to share in missions locally and internationally. I have been able to stand up for those that can’t. This new position as Local Good Pantry Director is just another way to live into that calling.
Q: What ministry opportunities have you been you involved with, prior to accepting your role with the Local Good Pantry?
A: I’ve always had a heart for missions and caring for people. I’ve worked at Chase Oaks Church for the last 17 years, first as the student ministry admin and then (for the last 12) as the Legacy Campus Outreach Director. I’ve led and participated in many mission trips (I’ve honestly lost count how many!) but more recently have worked with our local partnerships, helping them serve our community with what they do best.
Q: Tell us about your family.
A: I’ve been married to Phil for 36 years. We met in college; I had intended to go for a short period as a stepping stone to my next thing. Well, I met Phil and that changed everything! We have 3 children. Courtney is married to Chris and they have two children, Amberlee and Brent (I’m officially “T-Ma” to them). They live in Bentonville, Arkansas; they own a brewery and my daughter is a schoolteacher. Clayton, our middle son, lives in Nashville and works in marketing. He loves adventure and is living life to the fullest. Callie, our youngest, graduated from Texas A & M two years ago and works full-time as a Women’s Director for Impact Ministry in College Station. They all are my biggest joy.
Q: What is your aspirational nickname?
A: I’ve never thought about this, but my favorite name is T-Ma.
Q: Do you have a favorite food or cuisine?
A: I'm not a foodie. But I do love coffee and making froth with Nutpods.
Q: Who is your favorite superhero?
A: [Legacy Campus Pastor] Peter Park will be so disappointed, but I don’t know superheroes much. If there’s one who always helps the underdog—that’s who I’d want to be.
Q: What’s your favorite thing to do on a free afternoon?
A: Hands down, it’s to grab some firewood, a hammock, some lunch, and go to the lake by myself to chill. I love making space to hear God’s voice in a busy, hectic world.
Q: What’s a travel destination, activity, or goal on your bucket list?
A: I want to get a tattoo. (I’ve had it designed for a while, so in time it will happen). New Zealand is a bucket list destination. And I’d like to ride in a one-horse open sleigh (in the snow, of course).
Q: How would you complete this sentence? “To know me is to know that I ____________”
A: ... would rather be outside than anywhere else.
Q: What are three things you are most passionate about seeing God do through your unique ministry?
A: Bring dignity to people in their most vulnerable time in life. Help people be seen and heard. Help people take their next step to sustainability and accompany them on that journey.
Q: As you think about ministry and reaching others, can you describe the kind of person you are hoping to impact the most?
A: I mostly want to impact the person who doesn’t have hope for their future. I hope by showing God’s love in a physical and tangible way, they will see their value and worth, and let us walk with them as they figure out next steps to help their situation.
When the opportunity to direct the Local Good Pantry was presented, I asked all my kids about it. We talked about my gifts, God’s calling, and where I am in life, and in unison they all said, “Mom, you were meant for this.” I am so excited about living into God’s calling, but also building up leaders and volunteers to join me in bringing the Chase Oaks vision to rebrand Christianity straight to the Pantry… to love on people, period. My hope is that in doing that, people will see our love and want to know more about Jesus. I can’t wait to get rolling.
Interesting in getting involved with the Local Good Pantry? Check out our Thanksgiving week service opportunities for Do Good Week as well as ongoing opportunities to volunteer.