There’s a new president at Stephen’s Backpacks Society, and it’s none other than co-founder Stephen McPhee.
McPhee founded the charity with his mother, Nancy, when he was six years old. The organization provides backpacks stuffed with age- and gender-appropriate essentials to local families and children in need.
“This charity is very important to me, considering it’s been my passion for the last 13 years,” he said. “What keeps the motivation up for me is the fact there are still kids on the street. That’s always been my motivation. As long as there are still kids on the street, I’ll have a reason to continue.”
McPhee was announced as the organization’s new president Oct. 2. His mother Nancy, the charity’s executive director, said she is excited for her son to take on the new role.
“He’s 18 now, graduated, holding down an almost full-time job at Superstore and saving up for a car to go back to school,” she said. “It just seemed like the perfect timing for him to step into his dad’s shoes.”
McPhee added he intends to pick up where his father, Jim McPhee, left off. Jim was the society’s president from its inception until he passed away in 2017, following a long battle with cancer.
“I want to be as good a president as he was,” McPhee said.
According to Nancy, McPhee’s responsibilities as president will include overseeing the board of directors. She added he wants to make sure his grassroots-focused vision of the society remains intact.
“He doesn’t want his charity to be one where more money is going to admin than to the heartbeat of the charity, so that will be a big focus for him,” she said.
McPhee has been recognized multiple times for his altruism over the years – he was presented with the Calgary Stampede Western Legacy Award in 2017, and was awarded the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers in 2016 by Governor General David Johnston.
“I get a sense of joy and pride in what I’m doing, because I know it’s right,” McPhee said.
According to a Facebook post by the charity, McPhee has distributed more than 64,000 backpacks and 15,000 pairs of running shoes to children in need over the last 13 years, while also assisting in the reviving and furnishing of homes for 32 local families.
“I’m very proud of him and the accomplishments he’s made,” Nancy said. “More important than anything, I’m really proud of the purity he’s kept. It just warms my heart, and gives me an incentive to keep going and work hard to be the best I can be in helping him.”