by Eric Norwood Jr.
PNT staff writer
For the past decade, Joe Parie has served meals to the public from the Memorial Building on Thanksgiving. He then makes a trip to Mexico, and serves food and gives coats to the needy, sometimes in churches or on the street, and other times in jails or prisons. Parie is a reason for many smiles each holiday season, and the street department employee wouldn’t have it any other way.
1. What was a memorable Thanksgiving moment in your life?
The memories that stick out to me the most are in Juarez. After each meal, we take the leftover food down to Juarez, Mexico and serve those. One time we served over 2,000 meals in a prison in Juarez. Another time we were in Mexico in a church serving meals, and we intentionally put lit candles on the table. The people took all of the candles, because it was heat for their homes.
2. What compels you to donate your time to others on Thanksgiving?
I think it’s the people we work with, both the volunteers and the recipients. Every year we get back together and it’s usually the same people, so it feels like family. When someone is sleeping outside on a piece of cardboard, and you give them a cup of hot coffee or a sandwich, that makes it all worth it.
3. In your opinion, who prepares the best Thanksgiving meal?
I’d say we do. You’ve got to define best. When it comes to the most satisfied consumers, we are the best. I’m sure that others may be more tastier, but we always have the most satisfied consumers.
4. Tell us about your family, occupation, schooling.
I was raised mostly in El Paso. In 1980, my daughter and I came here while I was attending Eastern. I’ve worked for the street department for 25 years, and I graduated with a degree in engineering technology. My daughter was in the Air Force for 14 years, and now she is stationed in California.
5. How does it make you feel to serve those in need?
It makes me feel wonderful. It keeps me going. I like to say we take trinkets and make big blessings. If the people get blessed half as much as we do, that’s fantastic. It’s an awesome feeling, and it makes life worthwhile here on earth.
6. If you could have any three guests, dead or alive, at your dinner table on Thanksgiving, who would they be and why?
It’d be my grandparents and my parents. They gave for many years and sacrificed for a lot of years, so it’d be good to give back. I think with the sacrifices they made, it’d be right to serve them instead of serving us.
7. You’re in line to make your plate, and you’re told you can only pick three items to eat. Which three are you choosing?
I’ve got to have the cranberries and the turkey. I’ve had some mighty good stuffing. Those would be my three.