By Russ Edem – 530News
Local woman helps people for over four decades
For one local woman being a volunteer is her life commitment. This passion dates back to her childhood and just after World War II when she married her late husband. And it is still stronger than ever as she still helps those within the community.
Pearl White grew up on a farm just outside Ellinwood with her parents, this hard work is what taught her about giving and helping others when that help was needed most urgently. For her, that help ranges from helping people at a nursing home or just giving a random person a hug that she see’s that is down on their luck.
“I remember when we where on the farm we use to help our neighbors anytime we could. Our farm was on the high ground, so during a lot of rain or floods the neighbors would come to our place to get away from the high water,” White said. “We would fill up baskets with fresh fruit which was grown on the farm and give it to the people that really needed it because they were displaced from their own home. This is where I really understood what it meant to help people and I have been doing ever since.”
After meeting her husband and getting married to him just after the war when she was 18 in 1946, she moved to Great Bend to start her life. That’s when helping others really became her passion. It all started with her church where she was a Bible school teacher over the summer and a Sunday school teacher throughout the year.
“I would have to say even though I understood what it was like to help people when I was living at home, but when I started my life with Clifford and started helping at the church, this is when it really filled my heart as I watched the faces of the people that received help from the church.” she said.
Her volunteering started to grow and take off in many directions. She started volunteering at Cherry Village after her mother and mother in-law moved there. She would help with Sunday service and during the week she would play the piano for the people.
“Sometimes while I was playing the piano we would have a little dance,” she said. “One time this gentleman in a wheel chair asked me to dance with him, but I said we will have a problem, he said, what is that Pearl. If I get up and dance with you we won’t have any music. We just sat there and giggled about the moment. I really love the elderly and I really love our veterans.”
Her late husband Clifford White was a World War II veteran and after he came home from the war he joined VFW post 3111 here in Great Bend. This is when her desire to help veterans really fueled her passion for helping those that have done so much for their country.
“I have been with the VFW here in Great Bend for 38 years. My late husband was post commander for several years and this is when I felt that I needed to help our local veterans that were coming back from the war. They were dealing with a lot of stress and helping them through this transition is all I could think about.” White said.
Being a volunteer is not the only passion that White has, she also loves children and helping them in any way she can. For here this meant becoming a foster parent, not only for children that were homeless but for children in her immediate family.
“I had 12 foster kids all together. Seven of them were foster children. I also took care of my niece after she was shot in the head and I took care of four of my nephews after their mother passed away.” she said. “Some of them still live in Great Bend or surrounding communities and some I have lost contact with, which breaks my heart.”
These days Pearl still resides in Great Bend living next door to her daughter, her grand daughter and her two children. She still can be found volunteering at the local VFW where she runs the snack bar for bingo. She is the bingo chairperson at the Great Bend Health and Rehab where she runs bingo for the residents. Her love for children, the elderly and her veterans is stronger than ever.
“You ask why I do this, It’s because I can not stand to see a person suffering and I feel it in my heart to help that person and I would do it all over again. I do not regret one thing about my life.” she said.