AARP’s Prestigious Award
AARP’s Prestigious Award
White Pony Express Founder Receives Award for Relief of Camp Fire Survivors
Almost 100 people gathered at the nonprofit organization White Pony Express in Pleasant Hill to attend a special AARP California ceremony to honor Dr. Carol Weyland Conner, founder of White Pony Express, with the 2019 Andrus Award. AARP California State Director Nancy McPherson presented Dr. Conner with the award for her extraordinary leadership in bringing aid to survivors of the Butte County Camp Fire, the worst fire in California’s history. AARP received more than 100 nominations from across the state for this award.
The Andrus Award is AARP’s most prestigious volunteer tribute. It recognizes outstanding individuals who share their experience, talents and skills to enrich the lives of others. The award is given annually to an individual who embodies the principles of AARP’s founder, Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus, who believed in the power of ordinary people to do extraordinary things.
When the 2018 Camp Fire destroyed the town of Paradise and 18,000 buildings in the Butte County area, it left thousands of people homeless and destitute. Dr. Conner quickly galvanized White Pony Express volunteers to make trips to the disaster area and bring food, clothing, and cash to the survivors. When the news coverage of the tragic situation ended, Dr. Conner’s volunteers continued to help. Over the course of many months, 182 volunteers made 91 trips to the Butte County area, each taking about eight hours. They sought out survivors in remote places and gave those displaced community members 58,213 pounds of food and 1,833 articles of clothing. In addition, they gave away thousands of dollars in cash to buy needed supplies and gas.
“Dr. Conner’s record of achievement, service, and commitment provides an extraordinary example of the difference that volunteerism can make in the lives of individuals and in the well being and vitality of a community,” stated Nancy McPherson. “Her example inspires all of us to want to make a difference.”
The ceremony included live music, a short video on the Camp Fire, and a brief review of WPE’s work in helping the fire survivors. In addition to honoring the work of Dr. Conner, WPE volunteers who helped bring food and clothing to the fire survivors were also recognized. As part of the award, AARP presented a $1,000 check to White Pony Express.
White Pony Express operates a Food Rescue Program that picks up quality surplus food every day from supermarkets, restaurants, and farmers’ markets and then delivers that food—free of charge—to shelters and churches that feed the hungry. Since its founding in 2013, WPE has delivered over ten million pounds of fresh food. WPE also has a general store that has distributed over 500,000 items of high-quality clothing, toys, and books to the underserved for free.