Written by Parker White

My name is Parker White and I am the Founder/Executive Director of BackPack Beginnings.  BackPack Beginnings is a nonprofit that I did not seek out to start.  Being an Executive Director wasn’t on my radar or in my plans; I was just trying to find my own way to give back to children.

I grew up in Greensboro, NC, yet, it was while living in Washington, DC that I began to learn about backpack programs and the immense need for them.  Shortly after I had my first child, (what a life-changing experience that was) it struck me how dependent she was on me, how she relied on me for all her basic necessities.  What about the other families that loved their children as much as me but didn’t have the resources to provide for their food, clothing and comfort needs?  What are the options for those families?

Those feelings lingered throughout our move back to North Carolina.  After having those thoughts for over a year, I decided to reach out to learn about the need.  But, childhood hunger in Greensboro, NC?  No, not at all, well, not really…. I grew up here, I would know if there was any, right?  WRONG.  I found the exact opposite.  There was a huge need in our community and needed more people to step up and help. My goal?  My lofty goal was to feed 50 children at one school. I did not anticipate the outpouring of support in my community that would lead to BackPack Beginnings annually serving 6,000 children 6 years later.

However, BackPack Beginnings’ story is not one of 1 woman making a difference.  It is a story, instead, about the power of passionate mothers with hearts for children in need.  We are an organization with no paid staff, because 18 women decided to take on core roles within an organization to better their own community.  Through their volunteerism, they are showing their own children what giving back means. Collectively, we can make a big impact on the children in our area.

My own children see my work day in and day out daily.  They come to the office with me; they go to BackPack Beginnings’ events; they run errands to pick up food.  While I worry that my first job of stay-at-home mom may get overshadowed at times, I see the benefits they are reaping.  They talk about BackPack Beginnings, pray for the children we serve and mostly recently, my daughter started her own “charity” to make bags of food for the homeless.  I hope to instill the common adage of “when much is given, much is required”.

An example of such a blessings was shown by one of the children we serve who wrote to us telling that that he prays for the “food people” every weekend.  Those prayers are heard and felt and helps me continue to strive to grow this organization everyday to help more and more children.  God knows my path and is showing me the way.  I am called to do his work for those in need.

I am humbled to be a finalist for the Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award.  The exposure this award has given BackPack Beginnings will help us grow no matter the results.  What an amazing position to be in!  However, we have a waiting list and no hungry child should be told to WAIT.  With our area being ranked #1 in the nation for food insecurity last year, we have a long way to go, and $100,000 would help us to continue to work to serve every child in need in our area… one BackPack at a time.