Shannon and Patrick Burch felt devastated when their nearly 2-year-old son, Parker, died unexpectedly in January earlier this year.
Shannon said that Parker was a shining light in their lives, brightening any room he stepped into. Family, friends and many others in the community held so much love for the little boy and his giant smile.
The day that he died, his parents immediately tried to think of a way that they could honor his life and keep his positivity and brightness in their family. As friends and community members offered their support, Patrick said that he did not want the community to spend their money on flowers or gifts.
“And my wife asked why couldn’t we do a foundation?” Patrick said. “And be able to honor Parker, but more importantly, support the community and make the community a better place. And I said, ‘Perfect, let’s do it.’”
Soon after, they created the Parker Wade Burch Joy of Hope Foundation — bringing together those in Forsyth County and North Georgia to help raise money and make donations to those in the community who truly need them.
For the past seven months, Shannon and Patrick have raised money with the help of community members; partnered with local charities and non-profits; and provided meals and supplies to families in the area — all in the name of their son, Parker.
After raising at least $15,000 to go toward local charities, Patrick said that he and Shannon are still looking to donate more and to continue to grow the foundation.
“Forsyth County is one of the wealthiest counties in the state of Georgia,” Patrick said. “You wouldn’t think that the poverty or the need is anywhere near where it is. And when we dropped off 86 backpacks at one elementary school, we were shocked. So what does that look like if we can do more?”
In the near future, the couple hopes to raise at least $30,000 before eventually reaching their long-term goal of $100,000 in donations.
These donations go directly to partnering charities and organizations, including Jesse’s House, The Place of Forsyth County, No Longer Bound, Meals by Grace, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Shepherd’s Men, Sawnee Optimist Club of Cumming and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
They want to use these donations to provide help with COVID-19 relief to Meal by Grace and The Place of Forsyth, donate gift cards to young girls at Jesse’s House and to donate at least 100 backpacks to children in Forsyth County Schools in conjunction with The Place.
“If we can get 500 people all donating $25, the impact of that is greater than just each of us just donating here and there,” Patrick said. “Just giving people the ability to be a part of something bigger than what they might have imagined and be able to impact our local community.”
Shannon said that they are excited to spread the word about their new foundation not only because it could bring extra donations and help to those who need them, but also because it lets others in the community learn more about their local partnering charities and organizations.
As the PWB Joy of Hope Foundation continues to grow, Patrick and Shannon also plan to hold fundraising events in the future, including an annual golf tournament. Patrick said that the first tournament has been pushed back due to concerns surrounding COVID-19, but they still plan to hold the event as soon as they can.
In the meantime, those looking to donate to the foundation can do so through their website, pwbjoyofhope.com.
“This thing that we’re all going through right now, COVID, it’s not easy,” Patrick said. “So if we can bring a little bit more joy and a little bit more light to folks and in our communities, then we’re winning. And we’re able to honor our son at a greater level than we ever possibly could have imagined.”