White Pony Express (WPE) was founded by Dr. Carol Weyland Conner, on September 22, 2013. She was troubled by the fact that although we lived in a county of tremendous abundance, thousands of people were going hungry and even more had inadequate and unhealthy diets resulting from their poverty. She also knew that food retailers threw out huge quantities of high-quality food everyday, because of artificial “Sell By” dates, excess inventory, or because the food was not presentable for retail. So her idea was to create a food rescue program where this good surplus food could be picked up and delivered directly from food retailers to local service organizations serving those in need. She began the initiative as a program of the local faith-based group Sufism Reoriented, where she serves as the spiritual director, with the goal of expanding it to become adopted by the larger community. Dr. Conner’s much-needed program expanded rapidly, and in March 2014, WPE incorporated as an independent nonprofit public benefit 501(c)(3) corporation to realize its goal of becoming a broad-based community program. Dr. Conner’s primary goals were to uplift lives and provide opportunities for selfless service.
WPE started without any assets or bank accounts. We had an $800 formation budget. When we needed space a faith group provided it—and paid the utilities; volunteers contributed a computer and printer and other office equipment. A nearby neighbor allowed us to access his wi-fi. When we needed a refrigerated truck and van, someone stepped forward to provide the funds to acquire them. And so it has gone. When we opened our hands in generosity, generosity flowed to us, making our explosive growth possible.
As the food rescue program grew, we began to learn more about the needs of people living in poverty and how to serve them. Part of that important learning is that you cannot ask those in need to come to you, they simply don’t have the resources to travel. We must have systems that take the needed items to where the people in need live. In 2014, WPE’s outreach expanded to include two new programs: the White Pony Express Free General Store, where we freely distribute adult and children’s clothing, toys, and children’s books, and the White Pony Inn where we help prevent homelessness by connecting people with the resources they need to move from the margins to the mainstream of society.