Charlie Parr | Outreach Worker, Musician, Volunteer

 

A chance opportunity changes this man’s life for the better, all from answering an ad in a newspaper. From working to help homeless people to starting a music career to battling depression, Charlie Parr shares his heartwarming story.

Charlie Parr is a Minnesota native. He was born and raised in Austin, MN, moved to Minneapolis, MN and currently lives in Duluth, MN.

He began his career by being an outreach worker in Minneapolis. Meaning for the Salvation Army and other private organizations, he brought blankets and food to homeless people. Not only did he do this, but also he would talk to them and try and help them find any help from social workers that they need.

Charlie Parr did not plan on becoming an outreach worker; he merely answered an ad by the Salvation Army. Two days after the interview he was on an outreach vehicle and knew that is what he wanted to do.

“It changed my whole life; It changed my whole way of thinking,” Parr shares.

Since the organizations were located in Minnesota he mentions the winters. People tend to forget that homelessness is an issue and that when it is negative 30 degrees outside there are people stuck on the streets trying to make their way. Parr shares that “people have to do amazing things to survive, and they’re resilient and generous.” It changed his whole perspective on the fact that he has a warm home to go to, allowing him to never take it for granted again.

Parr had to stop his career of helping people to follow his musical career. He started when he was eight years old and his father gave him a guitar. To this day he has not had a lesson. He has taught himself the whole way, because he likes older music and at the time his father had records that he could listen to learn. Parr explains, “It’s ongoing, which is nice. I’m still interested in learning abut stuff all the time. ”

Nate Ryan | PHOTO COURTESY
Charlie Parr

That’s right, he is still learning all the time. Life doesn’t stop after school or marriage, it keeps going and you keep learning from everyday experiences.

His new album “Dog” is coming out Sept. 8, and it is different from what he has released before. This album is more personal because most of the songs focus around mental health because of Parr’s current struggle with clinical Depression.

“It’s hard to get away from it when it’s there all the time,” Parr explains when talking about his reoccurring depression. Mental health can affect anyone at any moment.

Now, for his children he tries to act a certain way, much like any parent would. The difference is he tries to talk a lot about social justice and why homelessness and mental health are out there. He teaches them how to react and if they have any questions he carefully answers or directs them to where they would be able to find the information.

Parr tries to live by the advice of his father, “You have to do what makes you happy because life is not going to wait for you to decide where your heart is.” This advice is why he does not pressure his kids to follow his footsteps. His son is interested in working with computers. He says that that’s okay and even encourages it, whether he likes the decision or not.

Charlie Parr enjoys “old music” which is why most of his songs are blues style of music. He writes every song by himself, allowing himself to go on walks and be in a quiet place to allow his mind to start writing a song. On Sept. 8, in Fargo, ND, he is playing at The Aquarium, so if you’re into old music go check him out.

Second-guessing whether you should go to that interview or not? What harm could be done? The person might not hire you, but on the other hand you may have an opportunity of a lifetime allowing your whole life to be changed in a blink of an eye.

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