Helping Others
“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.”

—Oral Lee Brown


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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Pass It On®

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Your Comments
Reshawn from Indianapolis Indiana JANUARY 11, 2022
Wow! That's awesome. That just made my day, I love story's like this..

Edward Kasper from New York City FEBRUARY 12, 2021
Wow! Wow! Wow! Amazing Thank you!

Nadia from North Carolina SEPTEMBER 28, 2020
i love how she helps 19 poor children to college its just amazing.

Patricia from Tx AUGUST 7, 2020
Commitment!! Well done Ms. Brown

ace from america OCTOBER 25, 2017
pass it on!!

Ace from America OCTOBER 25, 2017
awwwwwww

Arisme from DAME MARIE HAITI JULY 29, 2017
Good job

Evan from Bellingham, WA JANUARY 9, 2017
That is the kind of person I want to be! What an inspiration.

theresa rodriguez from san leandro,ca. OCTOBER 25, 2016
She has such delicate, caring soul. God bless you Ms.brown.

theresa from san leandro,ca. OCTOBER 25, 2016
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.

Anonymous SEPTEMBER 7, 2016
she is such a great women

Breauna AUGUST 26, 2016
Good Job!

LeRoy from Mahtomedi Minnesota  DECEMBER 16, 2015
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.

Ashlynn from Naples, Florida NOVEMBER 17, 2015
This is so Kind! I love this woman. I wish I had her as a teacher! Im only in 5th grade.

Kayelene from Massillon,Ohio NOVEMBER 3, 2015
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

Anonymous OCTOBER 7, 2015
I found this interesting! #love

Anonymous SEPTEMBER 23, 2015
wow!1

NULL from NULL FEBRUARY 21, 2015
Black History

NULL from NULL JANUARY 22, 2015
That is so nice of her to do that. Go ORAL LEE BROWN!!!!! -KatieBenham WWHS

Skai from LA SEPTEMBER 14, 2014
The generosity that Oral shared with these poor kids is a gift that God gave her. Very fortunate!

Moses Mbadi from Eldoret-Kenya JUNE 21, 2014
she's just wonderfull,i think the world needs people like her may God bless her!

Craig from iowa APRIL 1, 2014
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.

Aubrey from Kansas city JANUARY 16, 2014
She is awesome!!!!!

Ishmael Buford from Georgia SEPTEMBER 1, 2013
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.

Sahara from California MAY 21, 2013
Wow... She put aside almost 25% of her salary per year for a group of complete strangers. WOW... she's got a good heart

Mariza De Melo from Philadelphia MARCH 23, 2013
I loved this history! I think this is awesome! Join hands to help others in our own pace!

AdamAwesome from Connecticut MARCH 6, 2013
Oral Lee Brown is an amazing woman! I hope that many other women are inspired to do this too!

Swagg Monsta from CT MARCH 6, 2013
God Bless this woman!

bruce from texas MARCH 6, 2013
I wish this happened to me.

Molly Brown from Hartford CT MARCH 6, 2013
Inspiring you can do anything if you believe!

ATB from Connecticut FEBRUARY 26, 2013
I THINK SHE IS SUPER!!!!!!!!!

KN from Rogers FEBRUARY 19, 2013
Nice!!

Betzabel from Texas APRIL 19, 2012
What an amazing, caring woman! Hope the world continues to be blessed with wonderful caring people like her.

Madison Pembleton from Omaha Ne JANUARY 4, 2012
May God continue to bless Ms. Oral Lee Brown may heaven smile upon her.

Lorraine from Philadelphia SEPTEMBER 10, 2011
May God continue to bless Ms. Oral Lee Brown may heaven smile upon her.

Luis C. from Philadelphia SEPTEMBER 8, 2011
Ms. Brown, without a doubt, you are a great inspiration to us all. Your compassion for your fellow man is wonderful. I hope that I can be half the humanitarian you are... Thank You....

Jordan Caldwell from Adrian, Michigan JUNE 9, 2011
Oral Lee Brown,you're a savior here on Earth, we need more people like you! I want to thank-you soo very much for putting your time and effort into these kids! :)

Jayne from Albany, NY APRIL 8, 2011
Oral Lee you are a Godsend to these kids and an inspiration to humankind. Thank Heavens for being a wonderful soul!

korir T from Africa,kenya JANUARY 24, 2011
ms brown:am blessed by the kind of heart you have.indeed if only each of us could sacrifice the little we have for others, the better we could make the world.i admire your character

EMMANUEL S from PHILADELPHIA, PA JANUARY 22, 2011
I moved by the work of Ms. Oral Lee Brown and I am grateful that we have people like her in our world today.

barbara H from Windsor, CT JANUARY 1, 2011
Look up the Kalamazoo promise, that would be a nice thing to do in every town.

M E Nichols from Billings, Mt DECEMBER 16, 2010
Ms Brown: Heard you on FOX NEWS, this morning what a GREAT person you are and for all you are doing and do! THANK YOU M E Nichols

Hamidah M. from Malaysia MAY 6, 2010
Wow! an inspiration indeed. There's hope in the world. I am encouraged to do what you have done in a small way. Thank you for this blessing.

Cynthia, F from Texas APRIL 23, 2010
Wow! this is awesome. I wish I had read about her earlier in life. I feel bad that I hadn't done more in my community. She is truly inspiring.

Roger R. from Miami, FL JANUARY 14, 2010
Wow. This almost made me cry. We need more people like you Ms. Brown in this world. God bless you.

Mark T. from Madbury, NH JANUARY 5, 2010
Ms. Brown and all of your stories are an inspiration to read. Each brings hope for humanity and serves as a beacon for us to all follow.

Leah W. from NC DECEMBER 16, 2009
Amazing--just imagine how those children might change the world with the opportunity she has given them--more than just helping, that is true commitment.

Shaquirah H. from Orlando, FL JULY 23, 2009
Wow, Ms. Oral Lee Brown really achieved a lot because she helped these kids and made a huge impact in their lives.

Qamar H. from Canada APRIL 22, 2009
this is a very inspiring story! I wonder how successful the poor children are now!

Elizabeth W. from Canada, ON MARCH 24, 2009
That is really nice what Oral Lee Brown done for the 19 poor kids. She is like my mom helping others

Gwendolyn from McDonough, GA MARCH 17, 2009
We must give Kudos to Ms. Brown. As a person who did not have much as a young person, I commend those who are willing to reach out and help. Give where you can. You will be blessed.

Nikki & Chelsi E. F. from Paragould, Arkansas FEBRUARY 13, 2009
This woman is very inspiring and I want to have as much compassion and belief in people as she did (and still does). She is an inspiration to everyone!

Landon G. from Tempe, AZ OCTOBER 20, 2008
Amazing. I think twice when I read that.

Joanna H. from Bay City, MI. SEPTEMBER 30, 2008
While living in CA, my family was "helping others" everyday. I like this board. It feels good to see others achieving as well. We need more people like you.

Destiny S. from Bakersfield, California USA JANUARY 23, 2008
I really like the story about Oral Lee Brown. It gives a lot of information about her. I think she is a great citizen.

Marian K. from New York USA NOVEMBER 29, 2007
Saw the bus commercial because I had taped the Regis show. Great commercial, keep it up, all young kids, all nationalities, wonderful!

Anonymous NOVEMBER 21, 2007
I love this part of the backstory: "and if not me, who?" I think that is the message we should all take from Oral Lee and this site. It's up to us to make changes, take action, be positive examples. Thank you so much!

Violette M. from Kenya JULY 28, 2007
We should be understanding and caring to all beings.

Anonymous APRIL 25, 2007
that's nice

Rebecca D. from Houston, Texas APRIL 23, 2007
I agree. Read the backstory. As a future teacher (six months to graduation and counting) this is the definition of what we should be doing for our kids. Above all else, inspire people to do more.

raksha rana from lainchaur APRIL 8, 2007
helping others really provides true satisfaction and really that's life true life for me.

Anonymous MARCH 12, 2007
Read the 'backstory' on this billboard. That is a very very inspiring story. What a sacrifice and commitment she made for those kids, their futures, and OUR futures. Truly, that's amazing. I feel like I need to do more after reading about her. And I definitely know I CAN do more! I would love to hear about successes or stories from her "adopted" students!

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