Call it an epiphany which previously was an epiphany-in-waiting.
Parker White already had a deep-rooted awareness of the challenges many families face in providing basic necessities for their children. When she became a mother herself, that awareness shot to a new level.
And that led to action, and the 2010 establishment by White of Greensboro, North Carolina-based “BackPack Beginnings,” an organization that strives to provide nutritious food, clothing, and other essentials to children in need, in the Greensboro and High Point, North Carolina area.
“When I was living a number of years ago in Washington, D.C. I had seen a news report at some point about back-pack programs and it definitely had an impact on me, as I had no idea there was such a need,” White, 37, said. “I remember thinking what a neat way that seemed to be, to help children.
“It didn’t go much further than that — until I had my daughter, my first-born. It all changed for me after that when I saw how reliant and dependent she was on me for everything. From there, I couldn’t shake the feeling of what parents who didn’t have the resources and couldn’t provide for their children were doing.
“We moved to Greensboro when my daughter was about nine months old and over the course of the next six to nine months … I just could not shake the thoughts. I have a strong faith and I really felt God was calling me to do something.”
White, who is from Greensboro, is one of four finalists for The NASCAR Foundation’s 2016 Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award Presented by Nationwide. The award will be presented by France — The NASCAR Foundation’s Chairwoman Emeritus and founder — on Sept. 27 during the inaugural Honors Gala at the Marriott Marquis in New York City. The foundation will donate $100,000 to the charity represented by the award winner and $25,000 to each of the other three finalists’ charities. The award winner will be determined via an online vote now underway and running through Sept. 26 at 5 p.m. ET at www.NASCAR.com/Award.
In only six-and-a-half years, after initially identifying a need in the Greensboro/High Point region, White has led an impressive expansion of BackPack Beginnings’ services, which are centered on working with local schools to open food and clothing pantries, donate backpacks filled with blankets and school supplies, and provide comfort and hygiene items. During this period, BackPack Beginnings’ presence has grown from one school to 26, with more than 2,500 children being fed each week through the food pantries. During the organization’s first six years more than 650,000 pounds of food, 5,000 backpacks and 20,000 clothing articles have been distributed.
BackPack Beginnings’ goal is to help children thrive in their school environment, where hardships can be magnified. A child who is undernourished or without adequate school supplies likely will also face social stigmas among their peers.
BackPack Beginnings operates as a volunteer organization, allowing the vast majority of donations to go straight to the children in need.
White in an appropriate finalist for a NASCAR award. Her brother-in-law is a former jack man in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. And Greensboro, of course, annually is one of the hottest markets for NASCAR in the country.
“I never imagined we would be where we are now,” White said. “It just took our community rallying around this idea. I had no foresight that this was going to happen like this. It’s just such a blessing for the community and for my life.
“We definitely want the kids to feed them, have them ready to learn,” White said. “We want to give them clothes, give them confidence. We want to give these kids a better chance to succeed in life by doing well in school.”