See Original at Gwinnett Daily Post
Growing up in Meridian, Miss., Lorri Stennis Brown was always trying to help the kids who didn’t seem to have much. As she grew into adulthood, she continued that mentality of helping those in need.
Lorri and Randy Brown are the founders of Calvin Stennis CDC Inc. in Buford. The nonprofit organization was founded in 2011 and was named after Lorri Brown’s father because of his love for people and helping strangers.
It operates a number of different programs, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the nonprofit’s intake of families has tripled, increasing the need for more assistance with monetary and food donations from the community.
“During a pandemic that has put thousands out of work, our nonprofit organization feels like the mission has never been more important,” Lorri Brown said.
“Both hunger and food insecurity are common challenges that families face as a result of a health crisis, job loss or other unexpected events, such as COVID-19. Hunger is not limited to only certain people. Children and adults of all ages are susceptible to the anxiety and fear of being without food.”
The food pantry is open to Gwinnett County residents and provides meats, vegetables, produce and fruit on a weekly basis. As for furniture donations, Calvin Stennis CDC Inc. will pick up any donations within a 75-mile radius and distribute to families in need.
The nonprofit also partners with Walmart, Costco and other companies to help with providing school-age children in need with school supplies.
Additionally, once a month Calvin Stennis CDC Inc. had visiited downtown Atlanta to provide hot meals, as well as personal hygiene items, to the homeless. However, due to social distancing, the program has been postponed.
From time to time, the nonprofit will also take donations from organizations and businesses and drive them to tornado hit areas such as in Albany in 2015.
Some of the newest programs at Calvin Stennis CDC Inc. are Opening Options Re-entry, where the nonprofit works with ex-offenders to help them start their own businesses once they are released from prison, as well as CrimeFree Youths.
In the second program, the nonprofit meets with youth to try to uplift and encourage them about the importance of education and accessing their potential to follow through on their dreams of success.
“We will help youths at an early age not only focus on their visions and dreams, but to work toward having a goal of making it become a reality,” Lorri Brown said. “We also want to encourage youths that all policemen are not bad and engage activities that involve police officers with the youths so they will learn how to follow the rules of the laws accordingly.”
So far, Lorri and Randy Brown have made do with working out of their home, but the nonprofit is in need of a donated building and a cargo van to continue to offer and expand its services.
Lorri Brown said Calvin Stennis CDC Inc. is the “bread and butter” of who she and Randy Brown are as individuals. All they want to do is to help as many people as they can.
“We enjoy helping people and being a blessing to someone when they do not know where help will come from,” she said.
The couple has been married for 15 years. Randy Brown, a U.S. Army veteran, was born and raised in Birmingham, Ala. He said he has always had a passion for people and children. He previously worked at the Salvation Army and a children’s program in Peoria, Ill.
Randy Brown also opened a food pantry in Peoria, where he served meals to many people. He is now a retired, disabled veteran, but still gives his time to make sure the needs of children and families in his community are met to the best of his ability.
“Randy has a gentle soul, but a great big heart and will give the shirt off his back to help anyone,” Lorri Brown said.
Lorri Brown grew up in a family of business owners. In 1995, she and Randy Brown started their cleaning service, Strictly Business Cleaning, where they began to hire teenagers to work with them and to help them prepare to find a job.
Not long after this, their vision deepened, and a calling, as they called it, was put on them that they could not refuse, which was starting a food pantry. Soon after, they created Calvin Stennis CDC Inc.
“Giving will always be a part of me, and as long as God gives us the means to do it, we will do it until we die,” Lorri Brown said.