By Ann Leach

It is written that “necessity is the mother of invention” and community volunteer Charlie Brown is proof that’s true.

Brown’s father lost his vision to diabetes in 2007 and needed assistance, so Brown became a caregiver, helping his dad navigate his new life. “I would take him to the Salvation Army to serve and to the Joplin Association for the Blind to do tasks that were manageable for him,” Brown said. “And my mom was always trying to help others even though she didn’t have much herself.”

After Brown’s father died, he stayed with his mother as she coped with her own health challenges and later succumbed to pancreatic cancer. “The Joplin community was so supportive during this time,” Brown recalled. “My mom left her house to me, and I am so grateful to her for giving me this piece of security in my life. Everything I do to help others is done in her name and memory.”

And when he says “everything I do,” he’s not kidding. Charlie Brown can be found cooking and serving at the Salvation Army regularly. He is a staple at the Joplin Humane Society, playing with the cats and walking the dogs and helping with Trunk or Treat each year. Other volunteer efforts include meeting seniors and veterans at nursing homes, supplying warming shelters with food and coffee, serving at Angel Wings horse rescue, distributing school supplies to multiple schools and nominating nonprofits for grants. 

Giving back has become a way of life for Brown who decided 11 years ago to do something good for someone or an organization each week. He defines volunteerism as “anything big or small that can positively impact someone.” His favorites are the Humane Society and helping food programs. “I love our Humane Society and spending time there,” he said. “Our animals need us. And I also enjoy supporting food programs because no one should have to worry about from where they are going to get their next meal.”

Charlie Brown receives requests for volunteer opportunities all the time but checks out the opportunity first to make sure it’s a fit. He said, “I always do my research to make sure what I’m signing up for is genuine and not a scam.” He encourages others interested in starting to volunteer to do the same and encourages those just beginning to give back to “start out small. You don’t have to move a mountain to make a difference. Just talking to your neighbors or reaching out on social media or mowing a friend’s yard can help.”

When he isn’t volunteering, Brown is working in restaurant management, a role he has had for 27 years. He enjoys traveling, trying new restaurants, spending time on Facebook and helping other businesses with their social media pages so they can be successful. He has also rescued several cats.

“Helping others does come with a good feeling. But the real reward is seeing the results.”

“You don’t have to move a 

mountain to make a difference.” 

~ Charlie Brown