Just because someone comes from a difficult background, whether it be due to economic status or a family situation, doesn’t mean they’re destined to stay there. Instead, these very circumstances help an individual appreciate the diversity of their story, the strength that lives inside them, and how it will mold them into the person they aspire to be.
Founded in honor of Parris R. Gaehring who lost his life at a young age due to gun violence, The Parris Foundation exists to provide counseling, outreach, and educational services to disenfranchised communities.
We believe if someone has the desire to make different, healthier choices than those in the community around them, and they’re brave enough to ask for help, they deserve the opportunity to create a brighter future.
Dr. Katherine Bacon had Parris while living in foster care at only 14 years old.
One day, The TRIO Program — something she’d never heard of before — pulled her and some other students out of class to ask if anyone was interested in going to college.
Dr. Bacon knew a better education was the only way to turn her situation around, so she built up the courage to raise her hand. That’s when everything changed.
Over the next few years, The TRIO program supported Dr. Bacon to pursue a college education and connected her to community resources that helped her raise Parris in a loving environment.
The TRIO program saved her life. It gave her access to options she didn’t even know existed. It also inspired Parris to become the generous, caring, and bright young man everyone remembers him as to this day.
Parris R. Gaehring wasn’t your average 16-year-old.
Apart from being a Dean’s List and dual enrollment student, Parris was the kind of teen who didn’t mind tutoring his friends after school. He taught math in Spanish to adults earning their GED in the evenings. He might have made some unwise choices that cost him community service hours, but even when his requirements were met, it didn’t matter. He kept coming back because he enjoyed serving his community.
Parris was dynamic and complex. Imperfect, yes. But it was clear he cared about his neighborhood and the people in it.
While he didn’t allow his past to define his future, in 2008, he tragically lost his life to homicide at the expense of someone else’s harmful choices.
Today, his community and the people who loved him choose to remember Parris not as a victim, but as an overcomer. Parris had the boldness to create a life beyond what society expected of him. Everyone he interacted with was better because of it.
Our hope is to empower every individual who may be facing dire circumstances to know they aren’t alone. Positive pathways are always within reach. All it takes is raising a hand and asking for help.
No matter who they are or where they come from
THESE ARE THE OPPORTUNITIES WE CREATED IN 2021
94% OF STUDENTS IN OUR PROGRAMS MAINTAINED A 2.5 GPA
77.5% STUDENTS WENT ON TO PURSUE A POST SECONDARY EDUCATION
384 VICTIMS WERE SERVED WITH OVER 1,416 COUNSELING SERVICES
87 COMMUNITY OUTREACH EVENTS TOOK PLACE FOR 1,262 INDIVIDUALS
18 PRACTICE-WIDE TRAININGS WERE HELD FOR 206 PROFESSIONALS