"The intention was for him to be a temporary worker to help us keep the hotel clean while we ran at maximum capacity for eight months housing storm victims," said Best Western General Manager Carlyn Tall. "It didn't take long before that changed, and he became a permanent member of our team. In the seven years he has been here, he has opened up to us drastically."
Tall says the once shy and timid Parker is now a talkative, on-the-go and prompt employee. "You could set your watch by him," Tall says.
Initially, she says Parker would hardly look you in the eye or say anything other than to exchange minor pleasantries such as 'yes ma'am' or 'no sir'.
Parker has Autism but Tall says that isn't even an issue. "Suffice it to say, it has not held him back in the least," said Tall. "He continues to grow with us, and he will forever be a part of the Best Western Zachary Inn family."
Best Western International teaches an idea called 'Heroic Hospitality,' which is defined by taking a routine interaction and making it something memorable. Tall says this idea is the cornerstone of providing superior customer care and service.
"Parker's qualities exemplify this idea and as such, we are honoring him with the Cornerstone Award," Tall said.
In addition, Best Western will begin annually bestowing the award but renaming it The Parker Award in his honor. The Parker Award will go to team members who share Parker's same qualities.
"In your seven years with us, you have become an inspiration to everyone who works with you. You are always smiling, and you speak to eveyone you see," Tall told Parker. "You are the embodiment of the Hospitatlity Promise...If you ever decide to move to another place, know that you have made a permanent mark on hearts, and you will always be a part of Best Western Zachary Inn."
Parker received the Cornerstone Award on Thursday, Jan. 3.
He is also a huge LSU football fan and received an LSU cap from his employers. "If you want to talk about LSU, just find Stephen," Tall said.
Foundation Industries in Zachary employs individuals at local businesses who have mild disabilities.