Heart full of love

Published 12:48 pm Friday, February 11, 2011

By SANDRA THAMES / Community Columnist

Having been born at a naval base in Seiba, Puerto Rico but raised mostly in the Jemison and Clanton area, Elaine Sparks, daughter of Rev. Terry and Linda Palmer is perfectly pleased to stay in our area. However she would love to visit that area and carry her family.

She graduated in 1988 from Jemison High School and then earned an associate degree in computer science from Herzing Institute.

As an Alabaster Big B (which is now CVS) employee, she met Mark Sparks, who was employed by Big B in Pelham. After more than a year of courtship, they were married.

Although not blessed with any biological children, the Sparks are legal guardians of Levi, who now attends the University of Alabama.

At their church, Gospel Baptist in Helena, they run the gamut of involvement. Mark drives the van and picks up children who would otherwise be unable to attend. As the youth directors for the12-to-18-year-old group, they have plenty to do but also volunteer with two other families to teach the first- through sixth-graders.

Elaine Sparks at her daycare with (L-R) Logan, Liam, Elliott, Jensen, Noah and Keys. Sparks started her own daycare in her basement so she could provide more personalized care to the children. (Special/Sandra Thames)

On Wednesdays you will find the Sparks teaching 4-year-olds, referred to as “little lambs.” From the beginning, her family taught our subject to be faithful to God’s House, work and tell others about Jesus.

After working in a commercial daycare, Sparks noticed that the teacher you left your child with was not necessarily the person who would care for them and love them for the course of the entire day. This increased her determination to have her own daycare.

After becoming fire inspected, CPR and first aid certified, Sparks became a licensed daycare provider. She has a state, county and city license and is required to attend regular training.

After one-and-a-half years of keeping kids “upstairs in her home,” husband Mark and a licensed contractor made Sparks a huge, efficient and visually attractive basement daycare. The mural on the wall was done by her.

So far, she has taught and loved 21 children and presently has six children from three months to two years.

Sparks hopes her health will allow her to continue this career for a long, long time.

As treasurer of the Shelby County Daycare Association she keeps up with the dues, special fees, classes, meetings etc. When I ask her why she is always so “darn happy” she replied “Number 1, I am saved, number 2, I have a wonderful husband who loves the Lord first and number 3, I have been blessed with lots of children – daycare, church, family and friends.”

“When God is the main part of your life, everything works for good,” she said.

Community columnist Sandra Thames can be reached by e–mail at bobthames1942@yahoo.com.