State Volunteer Commission Serve Illinois Honors Friends Member Chris Parson

The state's Serve Illinois Commission has named our very own Chris Parson as volunteer of the week. Serve Illinois is a 40-member, bi-partisan board appointed by the governor and is charged with improving Illinois communities by boosting volunteerism and instilling an ethic of service throughout the state. 

Serve Illinois cited Parson's "dedication to environmental stewardship and assistance to his community." He has been a volunteer guide with the Friends of the Chicago River's canoe program for over 20 years.

Friends Volunteer and Events Associate Annette Anderson nominated Parsons for the honor.

"Chris Parson is more than a volunteer: He's been my right hand man this year," said Anderson, citing "the time and effort he spends every week hauling our canoes to the river."

"He believes, as Friends does, that getting people on the water is the best way to inspire them to care about their river and take part in its stewardship," said Anderson."Chris has an immense knowledge base that all of our guests and new guides benefit from."

Anderson said Parson's "joyful attitude, enthusiasm, and humor make the sun shine even when it's cloudy."

"He is a truly special person," she added.

“I’m deeply honored to be chosen and a little embarrassed," said Parson. "I volunteer as a guide because I love Friends, I love being part of a great group of dedicated guides, and it is totally fun to take folks out on the river. Hardly seems like work.”

Our canoe program introduces more than 1,000 people a year to the Chicago River each year, either through scheduled trips or private trips for churches, school groups, and other community orgainzations. Click here for more info or contact Anderson at  at (312) 939-0490, ext. 14, or

You can learn more about Serve Illinois at