The Louis White Fund

Remembering An Inspiration: Louis White

Written By: Gordon Brown and Burton White

When Big Brother Louis White died in 1989, he received a formal military funeral at Fort Myer and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Master Sergeant Henry Segrecci of the U.S. Army Band, and a Big Brother himself, played Taps at the funeral. The funeral and Louis White’s career received full-page coverage in “The Pentagram,” the region’s primary military publication. At that time, the Northern Virginia Council established the Louis White Memorial Fund, funded entirely by donations from his friends and admirers.

Louis served 24 years in the U.S. Army. He then spent 15 years as a civil servant at the Department of Labor. It was not until he retired from Labor in 1983 that he became a Big Brother, while in his 60’s.

Louis had a seven-year match, beginning when his Little, Eric, was 7. He had the extraordinary task of being a mentor to a boy whose father was dying. Guiding Eric through that painful process, Louis developed an especially close relationship with him.

Louis’ impact on Big Brothers went far beyond his match with Eric. No sooner had he become a Big Brother than he realized that the volunteers had very little support or contact with each other. At the time, Big Brothers had only part-time caseworkers who simply couldn’t cope with much more than establishing matches. Louis’s first order of business was to create a newsletter for the council and assemble a team to produce it. He served as editor for six years.

Within a year of his match, Louis was elected vice president of the council. A year later, he was elected president, a position he would hold for five years, the longest tenure of any president. Louis excelled at involving other Bigs in council work and was recognized as a strong, objective leader.

During his tenure, the council formally assumed the job of conducting orientations for new Bigs, relieving the staff of the time-consuming duty and allowing it to double the number of matches they could support. As part of this process, Louis guided the council through developing guidelines for new Bigs, which were eventually adopted by the agency as a whole. Perhaps his greatest legacy was in establishing a stronger voice for Big Brothers with the National Capital Area’s Board of Directors. He received Northern Virginia’s Big Brother of the Year Award in 1985-86.

Louis was involved in numerous other community efforts. He was a specially trained suicide counselor with the Northern Virginia Hot Line and was active in animal welfare organizations, to name just two.

By honoring his memory, we maintain an inspiring role model for current and future Big Brothers and Sisters. Louis’ commitment to community service and his leadership in shaping the council provide a great vision for what we can accomplish individually as Bigs and together as a council.

How to Apply

The Louis White Fund awards small grants, $50 to $200, to support Northern Virginia matches with unique needs. Grants are generally awarded on a one-time-only basis.

Grants are awarded by the Board of the Northern Virginia Council, which considers whether the activity proposed for funding will make a significant difference in the quality of the match and will constitute a significant experience for the child. The board also considers whether the proposal is outside normal expenses a Big would be expected to fund.

Other criteria include whether the Big can afford to pay for the expense and whether he or she has actively participated in council activities, including, for example, fund-raising and other business.

In 2006, NovaBigs decided to make a more concerted effort to award grants from the Louis White Fund. The council president will send out emails soliciting fund requests every six months, however, a Big can apply at anytime. The council also notes that funds can be granted for items such as sports-related costs and athletic camps which are not typically granted by BBBSNCA’s Jeff Byer Memorial Scholarship.

To apply, contact Council President, Adriane Evers at: Please put ‘Louis White Fund’ in the subject line of your email.

Making a Donation

By Burton White

May 1st, 1999 was a very big day for me. Not only was it my wedding day, it was also a defining moment in my match with Brandon. That moment was made possible by the Northern Virginia Council’s Louis White Memorial Fund.

As with many matches, Brandon’s and mine started slowly three years ago. At 12 years old, Brandon was seeking independence more than a mentor or authority figure. As a new big brother, I was uncertain about my role and what our relationship should be. The combination resulted in a relationship that was friendly, but a little cool and distant.

When I asked Brandon to serve as a groomsman in my wedding, I wasn’t sure what to expect and had a lot of questions. Did Brandon understand the significance of being asked to be a groomsman? How would he act in an unfamiliar environment surrounded by unfamiliar faces? How would he handle sharing my attention with so many other people? Would he participate in the wedding, or simply stand off to the side and watch?

What happened was more than I could have hoped for. Brandon was actively engaged in the entire weekend and truly enjoyed himself. He introduced himself to my friends and family (and even adopted my father as his “Big Father”). He made a very touching toast to my bride and me in front of 65 people at the rehearsal dinner. Many of my friends and family commented on how impressed they were with him.

What does the Louis White Fund have to do with this? Simply put, the LW Fund, established in 1989 in memory of Big Brother Louis White, made it possible for Brandon to attend the wedding. The fund’s purpose is to further the value of matches by helping pay for special events that may require an unusual expenditure (see sidebar below). Past uses of the fund include helping pay for a Little to participate in little league football and for a special birthday party. In this case, the LW Fund contributed toward Brandon’s wedding-related expenses, which included a flight to Houston, a hotel room, and wedding attire.

Did the Fund meet its objective in my case? I believe so. For Brandon, being included in the wedding demonstrated how much he means to me and how much he’s a part of my life–just what a kid in his situation needs to know. For me, Brandon’s participation, especially his toast, made me realize that despite his occasional coolness and apparent distance, my time with him does make a difference.

Said Brandon in his thank-you note to the council: “Thank you for contributing money to help pay for me to go to my Big Brother’s wedding. I really had a lot of fun and enjoyed staying in Houston. It meant a lot to be in my Big Brother’s wedding. I really appreciate the help.”

I couldn’t be more proud of Brandon and myself for the relationship we’ve forged, and I appreciate the generous support we’ve received from the Louis White Fund.

Putting the Louis White Fund to Work
By Brian O’Neill

After five years together as a match, my little brother Mike and I decided it would be fun to go on a trip together in the summer of 2004. Mike lives just minutes from Dulles airport, yet he had never flown on a plane before. I, on the other hand, had spent much of my last few years commuting to Nashville each week, and had accrued thousands of frequent flyer miles.

I did some research and came across an 18 day trip to Alaska to build a house for Habitat for Humanity that sounded perfect. The trip would be a great opportunity for Mike and I to experience the adventure of travel, and, more importantly, share the good feeling and satisfaction of helping others in need.

While my frequent flyer miles covered Mike’s airfare, the trip still had a price tag of $1,850 per person. So, I applied for a grant from the Louis White fund to help cover a large portion of Mike’s expenses. We were awarded a $500 grant from the Louis White fund and we were on our way! (Oh, we also had to get permission from the BBBS National Capital Area office.)

Our itinerary was as follows:
July 2: Fly from Dulles to Anchorage, Alaska
July 3: Drive north to Denali National Park
July 4: Explore Denali in the morning, return to Anchorage in the evening
July 4: Arrivals in to Kenai, Alaska
July 5: Habitat & Alaska orientation tour
July 6-10: Work at site, evening Alaskan activities
July 11: Kenai Fjords (Prince William Sound) – marine wildlife and glacier boat tour
July 12-13: Work at site, farewell ceremony with affiliate
July 14: Homer, Halibut Cove
July 15: Homer, Kachemak Bay
July 16: Farewell activities and departures from Kenai
July 17: Fly from Anchorage to Dulles

The trip was definitely a trip of a lifetime, and Mike’s experiences wouldn’t have been possible without generous support from the Louis White fund.