Life Lessons: Ashley Brown
The founder of Selfless Love shares insights about children aging out of the foster system—and finding hope thanks to her foundation
- In the U.S., 28,000 kids age out of foster care every year. Of that group, almost half end up homeless in the first two years.
- Everyone wants to focus on infants, but the actual percentage of younger children in foster care is not that high. For whatever reason, teenagers don’t pull at the heartstrings as much. That’s not right. We should never give up on a child, no matter their age.
- In 2015, our foundation partnered with Children’s Harbor [a nonprofit in Southwest Ranches for at-risk children] to debut Brown’s Harbor—20 two-bedroom apartments [rent is $400 per month] in Pembroke Pines for foster children 18 or older. They have to be full-time students; we help them with job placement and real-life skills. We’re their one-stop shop to help bridge the gap from dependence to independence.
- I was adopted as an infant. My point of view was always that I was given a second chance at life. That’s my hope for the residents. I hope they wake up and feel lucky to be there.
- Jade came to Brown’s Harbor when she was 18. She was struggling to get her GED, but we paid for tutors and on-site help, and she earned her high school diploma. We had a professional photographer come out and take pictures, and it happened to be on her 18th birthday, so we sang to Jade. She face-planted into my shoulder and started sobbing. She said it was only the second time in her life that someone had sung happy birthday to her.
- I’m supposed to be a mentor to these kids. But, really, they’re the ones inspiring me.
The Brown File
- Ashley’s background includes work as the in-house emcee for the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies and a ring announcer for the WWE.
- Ashley married Ed Brown, CEO of The Patron Spirits Company, in 2015. The couple, who co-started the foundation, live in Hillsboro Beach.
- The foundation’s new statewide pilot program, Family Match, seeks to match foster children and “forever families” using predictive analytic software.
- Selfless Love will host its first gala April 21 at the Flagler Museum in Palm Beach. Visit selflesslovefoundation.org for details.