June Everett founded Backpack Society (BPS) in September 2019 with a mission to remove food insecurity as an obstacle for children so they can grow, learn, and thrive. Self-funding, she planned to start slow. Laurel Gebhard, Sr. Director of Programs & Operations, joined in February 2020.
They partnered with ThunderRidge High School to roll out a pilot program for 20 students set to roll out after Spring Break 2020. In preparation for this rollout, TRHS held a food drive to help kick off the program. Unfortunately, their rollout plans changed due to the pandemic. Schools did not go back in person after Spring Break but instead stayed remote. With students not in school, the need for food immediately grew. June and Laurel knew the students who relied on school meals would now go without and this was not an option. They jumped into action, set aside the backpack program, and immediately offered weekly groceries for the student's entire household. In the early days of BPS, June and Laurel delivered groceries to the student's doorstep.
Together they worked out of June's garage until May 2020 when they found a low-cost/donated warehouse space to move into on a month-to-month basis. They remained in that space for 6 months until the owners rented the space. With nowhere to go, the owners of the original warehouse space graciously offered a second warehouse space next door. BPS moved to this new space and remained in that space for another 4 months until they were able to raise enough money to move into their permanent home in March 2021, almost exactly one year from the date they provided their first grocery box to a student family.
Backpack Society has seen tremendous growth. Today, BPS partners with 36 schools. BPS programs have expanded to offering weekend groceries to partnering school staff members and stocking a pantry/snack drawer for the schools. BPS also has an outreach program supporting Warren Village of Denver by filling their community pantry once a month.
Board of Directors
June Everett - President/Executive Director
Laurel Gebhard - Vice President/Sr. Director of Programs & Operations
Nikki Schubert - Secretary/Director of Marketing
Juli Ettwein - Treasurer
Ann Swink - Grant Writer
Amy Watson - Blog Writer
Karen Humble - Community Engagement Manager
Laura Linville - Event Manager
Donna Mitchell - Office Manager
Megan Albrecht - Volunteer Manager
MaryAnn Lillis - Pantry Manager
1st Warehouse Space
Laurel Gebhard & June Everett
The 1st Family Box
2nd Warehouse Space