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Supporters Corner | Sheran Zellous White

March 14, 2023
By Jonathan Winkler

Sheran White


"Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this:  to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”  James 1:27

Sheran Zellous White, Founder and Executive Director of the Five James Foundation, has found that being a guiding light to widows, orphans, and struggling women in Pittsburgh is her own special way of healing herself from personal tragedy. Sheran started the Five James Foundation after the tragic losses of five loved ones: husband, William James White Jr.; son, William James White III; two grandsons, William James White IV and Jordan James White (both sons of her deceased son); and nephew, James Dwaine Zellous.  Thus the name: Five James Foundation.

Broken, but deeply rooted in her faith, Sheran needed a way to find solace from her grieving after these few years of heartbreaking losses.

“I spoke with my pastor at Allegheny Center Alliance Church. He would take short term mission trips to Africa, and told me that the Lord was speaking to him and wanted me to go to Kenya with him,” Sheran said. “I went kicking and screaming.”

There in Kenya, Sheran met five widows, with whom she built a relationship. The camaraderie between the women was strong and comforting. Through the Five James Foundation, these women launched businesses and became self-sufficient. From this point, Sheran realized that giving comfort to fellow widows and those grieving was her calling.

“I know what it’s like to hurt. I know what deep grief does to a person. I trusted in the Lord’s timing and realized my spiritual gift,” said Sheran. “I am driven to help people; it’s the way I’m wired… Today, the Five James Foundation supports 110 widows, and I give comfort by personally reaching out to each and every one of them.”

She was introduced to The Neighborhood Academy by former Board Member, Brenda Frazier, and has been an active supporter of TNA’s mission and vision ever since. The Five James Foundation has a scholarship for students living with single parents, and a few TNA students have been recipients of this generous scholarship.

“Not having an education can be a route to destruction and lack of productivity in society. The Neighborhood Academy reinforces the importance of a well-rounded education in these young people. Saving youth who otherwise would be overlooked is an amazing task,” Sheran said.

Today, Sheran works as the Community Care Director at Allegheny Center Alliance Church and spends Wednesday nights facilitating the church’s grief recovery support meetings.