Angel Award honors ‘Big Brown’ for years of charitable endeavors | New

BATON ROUGE – James “Big Brown” Joseph is 6 feet 8 inches tall, but he received an honor Monday night that rivals him in stature.

The UPS driver received the Angel Ward presented by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Louisiana Foundation at a ceremony Monday evening in Baton Rouge.

As part of this honor, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Louisiana Foundation donated $ 25,000 to the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, which helped Joseph launch the fund allowing UPS employees to contribute to the fundraising program.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Louisiana Foundation instituted the award, instituted in 1995 to “recognize ordinary people who do extraordinary good to meet the physical, emotional, creative or spiritual needs of the children of Louisiana.”

Much of the charitable work comes from helping his friends, he said.

“John Spain (Executive Vice President of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation) told me to just get the money here and not worry about legal fees. These guys do everything for me, ”Joseph said. “And then there’s Joanna Wurtele… we’re like two peas in a pod. I give her advice, she gives me advice, and without her we wouldn’t be where we are.

Working as a UPS delivery driver has been the perfect link to charity work, Joseph said.

“The UPS guys give us money every week,” he said. “We are in every UPS building in the state of Louisiana, and each of them wants to be part of their community.

“In every building they go out and participate in their community, and every year we write almost 20 or 30 checks to these schools to make sure they have school supplies,” Joseph said. “As UPS employees, we see things that you don’t see because we have drivers there all day – and that’s the best part of being a UPS employee. ‘UPS. “

Charitable projects have been a part of his life since he was a child.

“You have to have a leader in every situation, and in this one my coach is God – without him I wouldn’t be doing this job,” he said. “My mom is not here and she was my assistant coach. She stayed with me because she was a donor, and she would give you anything.

He said his mother, Lillian Joseph, passed the torch to him when he died in 2006.

“My Uncle Jesse made sure I carried the torch no matter what,” “Big Brown” said.

Youth projects across Louisiana have been one of his biggest passions in life.

Big Brown Cares awarded 524 grants and through these efforts donated $ 618,000 for school supplies, fans in the summer and heaters in the winter.

It provides $ 25,000 annually to 25 public schools statewide to purchase school supplies and uniforms for students from needy families.

His organization has assisted 71 public school districts statewide, as well as charter schools in the Catholic Diocese and Baton Rouge.

Joseph’s work also includes tips for keeping children in school, respecting their elders, and staying out of trouble.

“I learned a long time ago that our children are our future, and if we don’t teach them the values ​​of life and how to become adults, you will always have that child and never an adult,” he said. declared. “I believe in teaching them now so that they don’t have to learn when the going gets a lot more difficult. “

Joseph also raised donations for the restoration of the old Morganza High School gymnasium to help young people stay active and off the streets.

He has also worked with New Roads Mayor Pro-Tem Theron Smith on football, baseball and basketball projects to teach young people about responsibility and keep them active.

Joseph’s work took on an expanded role during the pandemic when his organization provided food to needy youth across the state.

In April 2020, with the help of Reverend Kenneth Honore and volunteers from the Prevailing Word Christian Center in Innis, the UPS delivery driver’s Big Brown Cares Foundation nonprofit outreach group provided McDonald’s meals to 800 young people. of the parish of Pointe Coupee.

The ongoing quarantine made him realize he needed to step up his efforts again, he said.

“I was home when I realized it wasn’t like Big Brown to be sitting down, so I decided it was time to shake things up,” former Harlem Globetrotter said .

During the same weekend, he organized a delivery tour to 13 cities including New Iberia, Lafayette, Donaldsonville, Harvey, Hammond, Covington and Natchitoches.

Big Brown Cares has supplied more than 70,000 cases of hand sanitizer and 100,000 cases of wipes and masks, and is working to get 80,000 masks that schools can supply to younger children.

“We have become a major organization across the United States,” said Joseph. “People know this and we get donations from everywhere. ”

Joseph said he hopes the lessons on accountability will reduce violence among young people.

“Every time I hear a gunshot I hear a child screaming for help, and the point is we don’t help these kids when they scream for help,” he said. declared.

“They need an adult to tell them what’s right and wrong because a lot of them don’t listen to these kids and they don’t pay attention.

“We have to listen to these children when they cry,” said Joseph. “We must act now.”

He believes children should be placed in a position where they can learn, have access to quality and receive help in traumatic situations, and then get help to become productive citizens.

But the responsibility ultimately rests on the shoulders of the parents, Joseph said.

“I realize we all have to work for a living, but how can a child get help if their parents are still gone? ” he said. “Parents need to spend time with their children.

Natural disasters also occupied Joseph’s schedule.

He worked last year to help provide blue tarps to thousands of homeowners in southwest Louisiana in the aftermath of Hurricane Laura.

Since late August, Joseph has made weekly trips to areas along the southeastern coast of Louisiana to help recover from Hurricane Ida, which remains uninhabitable for thousands of residents.

He set himself a special goal to help the thousands of families affected by Ida’s wrath.

“I’m going to do whatever I can to make sure these kids have a place to stay, food on their tables and I’m not going to let them down,” Joseph said. “I want to make sure they have Thanksgiving and Christmas because these people have lost a lot, and I’m going to be there until that happens, and I’m going to make sure that happens.”

Joseph considers the trophy a great honor, but it pales in comparison to the real reward for his work.

It’s all about smiles on people’s faces, he said.

“This award is good, but it’s not about me,” said Joseph. “My daughter knows where this prize will go – in a fence, in a box.

“My reward is when I see this elderly lady smile when she receives this air conditioner or when I see the children laughing because they received a Christmas present,” he said. “The biggest smile I want to see is when people can go to a table to eat food without caring. These are my trophies.”

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