We are always on the lookout to spotlight people in our Upstate community who are making a difference. Enter stage left: David White with Fostering Great Ideas.
Fostering Great Ideas seeks to improve the experience for every child in foster care. Knowing that losses multiply, and stress amplifies the longer a child stays in care, the goal of Fostering Great Ideas is to provide support throughout the foster care journey, ultimately resulting in lives back on track.
The core beliefs of the organization include: Helping children in foster care need to know they matter, understanding that relationships are key to long term well-being, and that reform is possible when caring individuals work together.
So we took a few minutes to sit down with David White to find out more about the non-profit and the event they have coming up.
The CLUTCH: So tell us, who is David White?
David White: I was born on April Fool’s Day and I am left-handed. That unusual combination helped me feel I was truly unique and, therefore, I had license to look at the world in a different way. So, I did – all the time – especially as a youth. Despite living in a wealthy Atlanta community, I intentionally spent quality hours hanging out with men who were homeless. As a white male, I focused my studies on the sacrifices of the black civil rights leaders in Atlanta. As a developing Christian leader, I showed less interest on the New Testament and more on the “Old,” seeing a God crying for his chosen people, the widows, the orphans, and the marginalized.
I was born on April Fool’s Day. I tried to become a wise fool in my formative teenage years by viewing life through the eyes of others whose experiences were far different from my own.
TC: Why non-profit when you could climb the corporate ladder so quickly?
DW: After college, I went a career tract that many in my circle did, corporate finance. I did fairly well, and then experienced an early, mid-life crisis at the age of 34. I wanted to get back to what I learned as a youth. I wanted to change the world for the better. I looked at becoming a pastor or a non-profit leader. I had a MBA, but that wouldn’t get me a job in these fields. I went for a Masters degree in Social Work, and moved to Greenville, becoming the Director of Greenville County First Steps at the age of 36.
TC: Help our readers understand what pulled you to foster care.
DW: At First Steps, I learned that children in foster care had the lowest scores of any sub-set on 3rd, 5th, and 8th grade South Carolina assessment tests. About the same time, we became an adoptive family. This combo, along with my learnings as a youth, emboldened me to make a decision. I would focus my career on the rights and needs of children in foster care.
TC: What is your biggest concern about the foster care industry?
DW: The voice of the child in foster care is hard to hear in the larger system of care. This system is never adequately resourced, there is always secondary stress due to trauma and neglect, and our customer is but a child with little control and a real longing for stability. Selfless-leaders provide ways forward. Yet, this journey can only be improved if more of us understand the child has every right to premium service from their point of entry to their exit. It is not their fault they are in this state of limbo. It is our responsibility to take care of these children as our very own. Once the majority of us look at care this way, improvements occur rapidly. Without such, we have status quo and the sobering stats behind it.
TC: What are you most excited about?
DW: What gets me up in the morning is knowing that children in foster care really like our approach. We improve foster care by walking alongside each child at every step of their journey. From their trauma of entering care, to their uncertainty of placement stability, to their longing for healthy connections with their family and with others, Fostering Great Ideas offers simple solutions that matter to each child.
TC: Tell us about your event. We are dying to go! Can. Not. Wait.
DW: We began the organization 7 years ago, and now serve over a quarter of children in Greenville County foster care with relational interventions that make a real difference in their lives. We operate off the good will of our partners, volunteers, and donor base. We welcome our community to enjoy learning more at our annual benefit event, the night of Friday, November 3rd, at Zen. This is our third year offering, with 250 old and new friends enjoying a jazz quartet, great food and drinks, a silent auction, stories of change, and a chance to support in the effort. It is a fun night to mingle and to learn.
Be sure to purchase your event tickets here, and to support Fostering Great Ideas!