Somebody has to train these kids. Somebody has to teach them, and if not me, who? If not now, when? We must do it. It's got to be done.”
About This Billboard
One morning on her way to work, Oral Lee Brown stopped by a local grocery store to make her usual purchase of some peanuts and a soda. On this particular day, however, a little girl approached Brown, asking for a quarter. Because all she had was a $5 bill, Brown invited the little girl to go with her to the store to get some change. Inside the store, Brown told the little girl she could pick out anything she wanted.
Instead of choosing candy or gum, which would have been the first choice for most kids, the little girl immediately ran for a loaf of bread. Brown asked the girl if she went to school. She quietly responded, “Sometimes,” as she shyly thanked Brown and quickly disappeared around the corner.
That night, Brown couldn’t sleep. She knew she had to find the little girl. She went to the school the girl would most likely attend, but she never found her. Instead, she found many other children, in less than ideal conditions. In an almost impulsive decision, Brown decided to “adopt” a class of 23 East Oakland, California, first-graders. She told them, "Stay in school, and I'll send you to college."
To achieve this goal, Brown, a realtor, began saving money, putting aside $10,000 per year from her $45,000 salary.
Starting that day, Brown did more than simply make a promise to the children; she became an active part of their lives. She became a benefactor, mentor and second mother to those 23 first-graders, beginning with regular visits, Saturday tutorials and parent meetings. She tracked each child's attendance and grades, bought them Christmas gifts and purchased supplies.
Brown took the students on recruiting trips to colleges and attended nine different high school graduations. Nineteen of the students in that first class enrolled in college, and three others went into trade schools. Those students all graduated from college in 2003 and 2004.
Brown is now on her sixth class of “adopted” students. All told, more than 125 young people have benefited from her generosity. Some of these students—now in college—report that if it hadn’t been for Brown, they would never have been given an opportunity for this kind of education.
In response, Brown says, "Somebody has to train these kids. Somebody has to teach them, and if not me, who? If not now, when? We must do it. It's got to be done."
Today, Brown has established the Oral Lee Brown Foundation, with the ultimate goal of opening a boarding school for 450 kids and planting the seeds for them to receive an Ivy League education. With her life’s ambition found in the work of supporting others to achieve undreamed-of goals, Brown embodies the value of helping others—and truly shows how to pass those values on.
Helping Others. Pass It On!
This billboard about Helping Others features Oral Lee Brown; real estate agent, philanthropist.
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That is the kind of person I want to be! What an inspiration.
Evan, Bellingham, WA
She has such delicate, caring soul. God bless you Ms.brown.
theresa rodriguez, san leandro,ca.
Ms. Ora lee brown is one of my former employers. Because she blessedenough to do it whe helped me by keeping me working ing in her restaurant. I thank her love her so much. She did help these children . She is definitely one of God's angels.
theresa, san leandro,ca.
she is such a great women
I am honored to know Oral Lee Brown. She is amazing and puts everyone ahead of herself. She shows what a difference one person can make. Just go out and start making that change and make it a passion. You will be surprised what you can do.
LeRoy, Mahtomedi Minnesota
This is so Kind! I love this woman. I wish I had her as a teacher! Im only in 5th grade.
Ashlynn, Naples, Florida
this is awesome im only in 5th grade you are so awesome that was so nice those kids now have good memories because of you
I found this interesting! #love
That is so nice of her to do that. Go ORAL LEE BROWN!!!!!
The generosity that Oral shared with these poor kids is a gift that God gave her. Very fortunate!
she's just wonderfull,i think the world needs people like her may God bless her!
Moses Mbadi, Eldoret-Kenya
What an incredible legacy, that's a hero, a role model. When asked, "what did you do with your blessings? Her life blows all others away.
She is awesome!!!!!
Aubrey, Kansas city
I choose this billboard because Ms. Brown made an outstanding effort to make a change in people's life's. She gave kids a new take on life, and set them up to be able to become educated and successful. To be able to send that many poor kids to school and give them a new look on live is an blessing.
Ishmael Buford, Georgia
Wow... She put aside almost 25% of her salary per year for a group of complete strangers. WOW... she's got a good heart
Sahara , California
I loved this history! I think this is awesome! Join hands to help others in our own pace!
Mariza De Melo, Philadelphia
Oral Lee Brown is an amazing woman! I hope that many other women are inspired to do this too!