Our Wellington Awards 2023 – Beverly Perham

Our Wellington Awards 2023 – Beverly Perham Back To Basics Founder Beverly Perham Is An Angel In The Wellington Community

“We can’t save the world, but we can save our own community, one child at a time.” Those are the words of 85-year-old Wellington resident Beverly Perham, the founder of Back to Basics, a volunteer organization that has been serving some of the basic needs of elementary school children in Palm Beach County for nearly 40 years.

The nonprofit Back to Basics (www.backtobasicsinc.org) provides underserved children with some of the basic clothing necessities for school — two new school uniforms, socks, underwear and sneakers. Every item is brand new. The school uniforms are delivered to elementary schools a week before school begins in August. The socks, underwear and sneakers — plus a small Christmas gift — are provided during the holiday season.

“The children receive a five-pack of socks and underwear because there are five days in a school week,” Perham explained.

Perham has been spearheading this charitable effort since 1984.

“This school year will be our 39th year,” she said. “Right now, we are working with 65 public elementary schools in Palm Beach County. We are also providing school uniforms to students at four public middle schools.”

When a family cannot afford some of the basic clothing items for their children, Back to Basics fills the void. According to Perham, the clothing makes a huge difference in the lives of these young students.

“A new uniform gives a child the confidence to go to school and be ready to learn,” she said. “It is important for kids to feel comfortable in school. Having a new uniform, sneakers, socks and underwear help them socially, as well as academically, because they are not worried that their shirt doesn’t fit. It helps them focus on their schoolwork when they don’t have to worry about those things.”

Back to Basics works closely with each school to identify children in need. Once Perham receives the names of the children in need, she shares the details — clothing and shoe size — with local service organizations and churches, such as the Wellington Rotary, the Wellington Community Foundation and the Council of Catholic Women. Those groups then commit to providing the sneakers, socks, underwear and a Christmas gift for an agreed-upon number of children. Perham also provides a deadline delivery for the items. According to Perham, the service groups always meet their deadline and always deliver what they promised.

“When we get the items, we wrap them in Christmas wrapping paper, and then the school arranges for the pickup and distribution,” Perham said. “We’ve never missed a kid, and whatever we’ve promised has been delivered. We don’t need the glory or the praise. The purpose is to get the children what they need.”

The roots of Back to Basics can be traced to 1984 when a local priest called Perham to inform her that a group of 30 Haitian children had just arrived in Palm Beach County with only the clothes on their back — just four days before Christmas.

Perham responded by calling the manager at a local Kmart. He agreed to provide an outfit of clothes and a nice toy for all 30 children for $500. Perham paid the bill.

In 1985, Perham spearheaded the effort to provide 165 Guatemalan refugees in Palm Beach County with a clothing donation. Then, in 1986, Perham, with support from her friends, provided underwear, socks and sneakers for 500 children at Grove Park Elementary School in Palm Beach Gardens and Lincoln Elementary School in Riviera Beach.

The rest, as they say, is history. Thanks to Perham, Back to Basics continues to give. Currently, more than 10,000 children a year are receiving gifts from the nonprofit. If you want to help out, e-mail info@backtobasicsinc.org or call (561) 319-4277.