Former UO advisor becomes owner

Mo Young credits Lyllye Reynolds-Parker with her brother’s life.

“I have no doubts that with my brother’s hard work, Ms. Lyllye saved him. I have no doubts in my mind,” Young said. “It’s a debt I could never pay off.”

Hundreds of University of Oregon students have been taken in by Reynolds-Parker “with hugs, food, conversation, a place to stay and a safe place to land” during his 17 years as an academic advisor in the Office of Multiculturalism. Academic success, Young said.

When Young visited her old friend in February, she learned that Reynolds-Parker, then 74, was saving to buy her own house, but it would take a long time to save enough. She asked for permission to help. With the help of her friend Emily Yates, Young rallied the community and raised over $ 75,000 for the local icon. Last week, Reynolds-Parker made an offer on his dream home. He was accepted.

“I am now a very happy owner. It is something that I have always dreamed of and never really got to grips with,” said Reynolds-Parker. “When I walked through the front door, he said welcome home. I just fell in love with him.”

Repay with a deposit:Fundraising to Help UO Advisor, Black Leader Buy a Home

She is the namesake of UO’s Black Cultural Center, one of the city’s most esteemed alumni, and the daughter of Sam and Mattie Reynolds, one of Eugene’s first black families. Her legacy made fundraising quite easy, Young said.

“When she was busy saving my brother, she was also saving countless other students,” Young said. “I wanted to give the community and the university a chance to give back to Ms. Lyllye because she has invested body and soul in this community, in us and in the students.

Since March, the fundraiser on the Facebook page titled “Thank you Mrs. Lyllye” has raised more than $ 75,000. In the summer, the Eugene Emeralds baseball team held a fundraiser in honor of Reynolds-Parker. Handmade Clay Mason Studio vases filled with flowers from a friend’s project were also raffled off for cash. In the end, hundreds contributed. A donor gave $ 10,000. The youngest contributor was only 7 years old and donated $ 5.

Mo Young.  left to right, Lyllye Reynolds-Parker and Emily Yates tour Reynolds-Parker's new home.  Young and Yates helped run a fundraising campaign to help the area's black elder, Reynolds-Parker, get a down payment for a house.

Reynolds-Parker said she never expected such a gift. Whatever she gave, her students gave back.

“I’ll tell you, the result was mutual. I am blessed. I am truly blessed.… It just makes me happy to know that not only did they trust me with this part of their life, but their parents did. trust me, ”Reynolds-Parker said. “I wanted these students to know, no matter what life throws at you, you are in control and someone believes in you.”

Building Black Wealth

At first, Reynolds-Parker wasn’t quite sure when Young offered to help.

“I don’t want anyone to think I’m here begging for money, because it’s not me,” she said at the time. “(Mo) said, I think I can raise $ 20,000 and my mouth fell out. (I said) ‘Okay, Mo, you can take over.’ “

Young convinced Reynolds-Parker that she deserved this honor. For her, it wasn’t just about giving back for the work she had done, but honoring the legacy of one of Eugene’s founding black families.

“Building generational wealth is not something black people have had the opportunity to do until very recently, which means we have fewer resources to rely on than our white counterparts and white neighbors,” said Young, who is also black. “She puts up with things that white people never had to put up with – her whole family did. It’s important to me that she has this capital to pass on.”

Faced with segregation in the 1940s, Reynolds-Parker’s parents had to relocate several times before building their own home on the north bank of the Willamette River, near the current location of the Ferry Street Bridge. On July 16, 1949, Lane County Commissioners ordered the area demolished to make way for the Ferry Street Bridge. The Reynolds’ house was bulldozed and they were forced to move out.

End of 2020, 44.1% of black Americans own their homes, according to the US Census Bureau, compared to 74.5% of their white counterparts. A long and complex history of racism, segregation and income inequality has contributed to this pervasive problem.

“We have so much catching up to do as black people in terms of finances,” Young said. “Homeownership is one of the fastest ways to build this generational wealth, but you can’t do it without a down payment. “

Young turned to Yates for help, as they had successfully fundraised before. Yates saw an opportunity to get the community to invest in a well-deserved esteemed elder, as well as something bigger.

“We have these conversations about racial equity… it seemed like the perfect opportunity to give directly to someone who has given so much to so many other people and not only help them, but also help. his family and his community, ”Yates mentioned. “I had no doubts that Mo and I could raise the money.”

It’s a tough market for first-time home buyers, said Bess Blacquiere, real estate agent and owner of Equinox Real Estate. She helped Reynolds-Parker find his home for free.

“It just seemed like the right thing.… Every year I try to do a little volunteer work to get back into the community and give people a boost,” said Blacquiere. “We just wanted her to have a home.”

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She was able to help find a house of the right size, in the right location, and at the right price. The large down payment provided by the community will keep the monthly costs affordable. Last week, Reynolds-Parker and a handful of many of her family visited her new home where she will be living with her sister.

“I am delighted to have received permission to do this,” Young said. “When our systems don’t take care of us, the community finds ways to take care of us.”

“Oh, I like that,” Reynolds-Parker said, agreeing with Young as the two were interviewed.

“I have to say, I really believe God orchestrated this on my behalf,” added Reynolds-Parker. “God sent me two angels – one named Mo and one named Emily … and then he sent me a community that showered me with love.”

More information

You can donate to fundraising by check at any Oregon Community Credit Union branch. Write “New home for Lyllye Parker” and “1316973” in the memo line. If you call, the name of the account holder is “Lyllye Reynolds-Parker” and the same number.

For more fundraising information and updates, find the Facebook group by searching “Thanks, Mrs. Lyllye.

Contact reporter Tatiana Parafiniuk-Talesnick at [email protected] or 541-521-7512, and follow her on Twitter @TatianaSophiaPT. Want more stories like this? Subscribe to gain unlimited access and support local journalism.

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Elaine R. Knight