Lee County banker gives back through public schools foundation

Reporter: Lindsey Sablan Writer: Joey Pellegrino
Published: Updated:

Your child’s education is being put through one of the toughest tests right now. From virtual learning to likely budget cuts, the future of our schools seems scary for parents.

But one man, Harlan Parrish, is putting education before all else. After 36 years in banking, he considers himself a numbers guy, but it’s his work in schools that he prioritizes.

“I firmly believe that it’s so important to our economic vitality,” Parrish said.

That’s why he has volunteered for 21 years for the Foundation for Lee County Public Schools, work for which WINK News’ partners at Gulfshore Life Magazine have recognized him as one of its men of the year. The foundation’s coming year, he says, may be one of its most challenging.

“We know we’re going to see some significant cutbacks to the state budget, think they’re projecting about 2.7 billion next year, and in tax revenues shortfall, and that’s going to affect education,” Parrish said.

But Parrish and the foundation help raise money to make sure our teachers and children are supported, providing basic needs, mentorship and college/career prep to students as well as money to keep teachers well supplied.

With a busy job at FineMark National Bank and two kids out of school, some might wonder how Parrish is able to continue keep giving back to the district.

“Think it really came from my parents,” Parrish said. “Both of them have really put a high price on education.”

Because his parents had to work after high school, his dad got his bachelor’s and master’s degrees while in the Air Force and his mom went back to school while raising a family. Parrish hopes that what his parents instilled in him will carry through to not only his family, but the whole community.

“I think what I’m most proud of is the fact that I know that the effort that I’m putting forth in my time is making a difference,” Parrish said.

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