company blog

The ‘Audrey and Fred Brown Family Bursary’

Audrey has been a driving force to help improve the lives of those in need in Muskoka generally and Gravenhurst specifically.   She grew up with a loving family but in a very modest home and she knows and understands the trials that families and children face in lower income  circumstances.  When high school was finished her father said he would help her go to college or university, to which she responded, ‘But Dad, you don’t have the money’ to which her father replied, ‘That may be, but I have good credit!’ She never forgot her father’s personal sacrifice to put her into nursing school.   Financial struggles continued in the early years of their marriage. Her husband’s business was painfully slow in developing. There were weeks they had no income themselves as they struggled to pay those who worked for them.

The memories of those times has provided Audrey with an empathy for those who are working hard and want the best for their families but just can’t get past the obstacle in their way.    Hoping to improve that situation for those in her town, she and her husband Fred have acted as a catalyst in the development of an affordable housing initiative referred to as ‘Gateway Homes’.   They convinced the Town of Gravenhurst to come on board and donate idle land to a project for the development of land for lower priced homes.  In 2016 the District of Muskoka and ‘Gateway Homes Muskoka Non-Profit Corporation’ co-operated in forming ‘The Muskoka Affordable Housing Initiative Program’ for the development of a charitable sector/municipal government partnership to allow for the philanthropic community to create an affordable housing down payment assistance program for those families needing such a resource. Audrey and Fred would take the lead roll.

Families in need of housing are often also in need of financial assistance for their children to obtain a post secondary education.
When the Rotary Club of Gravenhurst chose to develop an endowment fund for such a purpose Audrey and Fred were both very supportive of the concept from the very beginning and in January of 2012 they made it known to the Chairman of the fund that they wanted to donate.  They provided several opportunities for citizens to create their own family bursary and they matched the donations made by those citizens. In February of 2012 they made a sizable family donation that will provide over $5,000.00 each year for a child or several children to further their education.

At the time of their donation Fred was in a fight for his life with pulmonary fibrosis threatening to shut done his lungs completely.  Audrey was fighting to save him in spite of her own fight with arthritis causing tremendous pain in her hips and knees and eventually seizing one knee completely.   These circumstances were known to the members of the Rotary Club of Gravenhurst and when the donation was announced at the Rotary luncheon it was received with a standing ovation from the membership.

In April of 2012, when Fred’s oxygen levels reached a crisis point, a donor lung became available and Fred began his recovery. After nursing Fred back to a stable condition,  Audrey then faced her challenges square on and was scheduled for surgery to address her mobility issues in early 2013.
Unfortunately Fred passed away on Saturday, August 27th, 2016 at the age of 77.
The Town of Gravenhurst and Muskoka will be a better place to live because of Audrey and Fred’s commitment to families and children of families in need of a helping hand up.