Today we’d like to introduce you to Gwynn Browne.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Gwynn. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Faith in Christ Ministries began in 1981 by Rev. Joseph Browne and because I am his wife, the ministry became a part of my life and continues to this day. The ministry actually began as a radio program and when the church formally began, I have helped in any way needed. In the early years, I was encouraged to lead the women in our church. Most of the women were of my mother’s age or older, so I wasn’t comfortable in that role.
When children began coming to the church, I worked with them realized very quickly, parents were grateful that we would come to pick up their children for any of our activities for a couple of hours or more depending what was planned. We learned that many children came from homes where food may have been scarce or parents were not in a condition to prepare a meal, so we provided a meal with all our youth activities. Aside from having a traditional Sunday School time, we began our Kid’s Club on Saturdays, so children could have fun being children, playing, having a healthy meal and receiving bible instruction.
My husband’s vision realized the key role the church played in the entire community, including businesses and welcoming people who wanted to be a positive influence in the community. This opened up opportunities for partnerships that developed in response to natural disasters and the LA riots. Volunteers are key to our operation of providing services to our community which include our food program, youth program and women’s program. I coordinate the schedule and activities of our volunteers. We have also been a location for people to do their court-ordered community service for service years. We have partnerships that are continuing for 19+ years and individual volunteers who serve with us for Thanksgiving, which is our largest event of the year, coming for more than 10+ years.
I have always been a helpful sort of person; if I see a need and I can help, I will. My mother was a wonderful role model and I find myself doing so many similar things. I do my best in keeping our ministry work functioning, helping to see his desire for our community fulfilled. I try to keep abreast of concerns/movements that impact common areas of interest in our work and always open to creating key connections that are in line with our vision for future development of youth and women’s programs. I graduated from California State University Northridge (CSUN) majored in Business.
That field has given me tools to I use today. I remember when my husband wanted me to switch from using my IBM typewriter to using a PC computer. I shed many tears having to learn on my own without any proper instruction to produce our first major newsletter.
Education is key to the quality of life our community residents. Far too many students have dropped out of high school from graduate reading far below their level. We see the cycle of poverty manifesting itself through multiple generations. Because of weak financial position, when offered an opportunity to use our facility to provide a charter high school, we welcomed the challenge. After 2 years, the challenge became more than we could handle and we had to close the school. I was devastated.
About 2006, a woman came to our Saturday community breakfast with her suitcase and called me by name. I didn’t know her, but she said we attended and graduated from the same high school. When I got home, I checked my yearbook and sure enough, it was true. I asked where she was going and she said she was homeless. She asked if she could come by sometime and sort her things in our suitcase. This encounter made me aware of the plight of homeless women.
My co-worker and I had our first Women’s Gathering for women who were homeless and welcomed any woman from our community. The ladies asked if they could come every day; I said yes; my co-worker was wise enough to say, we can’t do everything, because we were working with the youth in the afternoons. This is our 8th year of providing the Women’s Gathering every 2nd Thursday of each month. We have a permanent co-ed shelter the next block over from us and we hope to expand our services to the homeless women in the shelter.
I am in the season of life now, being the caregiver for my husband and we are working on our secession plan for the continuation of our work in the community.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
My first challenge was being a working mom with 4 children, meeting their needs and being supportive of my husband and his work. My next challenge was being contented with not being assertive in areas of forming collaborative relationships that would help us expand our efforts in developing the additional services we desired for our community.
Faith in Christ Ministries – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Our very first motto was ” A ministry with a purpose” and now it has evolved into “A ministry in the heart of the city, with a heart for the city”. We have always done what we could to meet the need of every individual who came to our door, using what was available to us and referring people to resources that we know if we could not help. What sets us apart from others? We are very open to allowing people to come to see what we doing and join in with us to accomplish our goals.
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Oh, it is hard not to make comparisons. I am content with being available to help as a need comes my way. To have volunteers returning year after year to serve and to have people refer others to us is encouraging.
Another area that lets me know we are succeeding, we have 2 young people come of age that has taken a leadership position in continuing our youth program. Also, to have students returning now that they are in high school asking to work with us to do their school service hours, that is truly encouraging.
- $25.00 per month for our S.A.Y. Yes! Youth Development Program
- $25.00 per month for our Women’s Gathering
- $25.00 per month for Food Program
- Address: 4501 S. Western Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90062
- Website: ficmla.com
- Phone: 323-291-9636
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Facebook: Faith in Christ Ministries