Roseville, Calif, – The JB Brown Fund – a joint effort between USA Properties Fund Inc. and LifeSTEPS – has exceeded its annual fundraising goal of $100,000, more than double the donations a year ago and three times the money raised in 2011.
The JB Brown Fund helps low-income residents at USA Properties’ affordable communities, from the Sacramento region to Southern California. The fund, named for the founder of USA Properties, helps residents attend college, covers the cost for items such as eyeglasses and hearing aids, and allows children to participate in youth sports.
“I’m overwhelmed, I’m humbled with what we’ve accomplished,” said USA Properties President Geoff Brown during a recent celebration for the $100,000 milestone in North Natomas. “It’s efforts and causes like this that make people’s lives better.”
US Bank and Wells Fargo combined donated $25,000 for the JB Brown Fund, which has raised more than $112,000 to date this year.
The JB Brown Fund awarded scholarships to 13 residents totaling $21,000 during the evening event, the most scholarships since the program started. Scholarships are awarded for the fall and spring semesters. So far, 21 residents have received a total of $72,000 during the past three years.
“I hope you remember today that we are cheering for you,” Sacramento Vice Mayor Angelique Ashby told the scholarship recipients. “My expectations for you are sky high.”
Each of the scholarship recipients has a compelling story, including some from other countries where they had to battle such issues as brutal attacks that killed family members or major cultural obstacles.
“I always had a dream to go to school, get a degree,” said Alia Khan, who moved with her family from Pakistan to Canada, and then finally to the U.S. Her culture does not encourage women to achieve college degrees. But Alia, who is married and has two children, went against her culture and is close to completing a degree in health care administration from California State University, Sacramento. “The scholarship allows me to be a mom and fulfill my dreams. You have given my children their childhood.”
Khan and Dario Bobadilla shared their stories and how much the JB Brown Fund scholarships help them pursue their dreams during the three-hour event Thursday. About 100 people attended, including donors and recipients.
“All of these dreams, this passion wouldn’t be possible without the scholarship,” said Bobadilla, who recently completed the intense 18-month respiratory therapy program at San Joaquin Valley College. Bobadilla, a father of three – including a 4-year-old son who battled health issues when he was born and has Down syndrome – had to balance his family, classes, clinical rotations and still found time to volunteer for several local nonprofits. “There are really no words that can express how much this has helped. This unconditional help feeds my fire.”
But the JB Brown Fund is about more than scholarships. For example, seniors can get some much-needed assistance to buy necessary items such as eyeglasses and hearing aids. And parents can apply for help to pay for their children to participate in youth sports. In fact, 11 children at Clayton Crossing Apartments in Concord are playing soccer thanks to the JB Brown Fund.
“I wasn’t aware of this generosity and what this program is all about,” said Eleanor Hepworth, an active senior at Vintage Woods Apartments in Fair Oaks. When she was diagnosed with a hearing loss, the JB Brown Fund helped her buy hearing aids, which can cost several thousand dollars. “I just can’t explain what it means to me.”
“In this world, it’s difficult to ask for help,” Beth Southorn, Executive Director of LifeSTEPS, told JB Brown Fund recipients. LifeSTEPS provides social services to residents at USA Properties Fund affordable communities. “You matter to this world.”
Geoff Brown, son of company founder J.B. Brown, came up with the idea for the nonprofit during a car ride a few years ago with Southorn. USA Properties employees, partners and vendors donate and raise money for the JB Brown Fund.
“I threw an idea out there, and everybody ran with it,” Mr. Brown said. “It has been a complete team effort.”