A Northport nonprofit, Brown House, will host their annual “Halloween Thing” on October 30th to raise money to support their Christian mission.
WHAT’S THE BROWN HOUSE?
The Brown House became a nonprofit around the year 2009, but the organization was started when Amy Pierce and her husband moved into a house that bordered the West Circle Community in 2002.
“[The Brown House] wasn’t something that was founded necessarily,” Pierce said. “So we moved here in 2002, and it was just my husband and our two small children. At the time, our children were 2 and 4.
“And it wasn’t a matter of trying to start something; we weren’t trying to start anything,” Pierce continued. “We just wanted to live more deeply in a community that is typically marginalized because we feel like God’s heart is with those who are kind of excluded and pushed into the margins, and that’s where we want to spend our time. So that’s really all that we did; it was just our family making a move for ourselves.”
Pierce says that they decided to formally make Brown House a nonprofit after more families joined the cause.
“What happened is over time, [other people] kind of saw what was happening and got a vision of what it could be like to be in a community like this, and so other families joined us,” Pierce said. “So then in about 2009 or 2010, we had enough involvement and enough people that were starting to participate with us that it made sense for us to become a nonprofit.”
SO, WHAT’S BRAYDEN HOUSE?
Brown House is also the owner of Brayden House, which Josh and Ashley Giambalvo founded in honor of their son Brayden who was born eight months premature. Brayden House is a place for families with babies in the NICU to stay while their child is in the hospital.
Part of the mission of Brayden House is “to provide housing and meals for displaced parents of babies in the NICU units at DCH in Tuscaloosa and Northport, free of charge.”
“Brayden House is kind of under the covering of Brown House,” Pierce said. “The Brown House is the nonprofit for Brayden House, [which] is a house created in honor of a child who passed away.
“While he was in the NICU, the family saw that there were lots of people that didn’t have places to stay, or good food to eat, while their children were in the NICU,” Pierce continued. “And so they created this house as a place where families, if they’re from out of town and don’t have the funds to stay somewhere, then they can stay here for free. There are two bedrooms, one bath, common space, and we share a big backyard together.”
CAN’T-MISS EVENTS AT THE BROWN HOUSE
The Brown House holds several events annually and provides several services to the community it serves, but Pierce says it is mainly all about helping others and building relationships.
“[It’s] standing with those that society tends to discard, and that’s kind of how I like to view it,” Pierce said. “So it’s our family and other families who have come together to walk alongside this community … We definitely meet needs, but the point really isn’t about meeting needs necessarily, or fixing things or changing things. It’s really more about walking alongside each other and recognizing that we are equals, and there’s a kinship between us all.
“If I have a friend who is having trouble with reliable transportation, well, then if that’s something I have, then that’s something that I can share with her, for example,” Pierce continued. “Or I know someone in the community who has had to be off of work because they’ve been sick. So they’re behind on their bills, then out of that friendship, I’m able to pull our resources together and find a way to partner with that mom.”
One service that Brown House provides on a regular basis is tutoring at the “After-School-Thing.”
“A lot of kids aren’t able to do the after-school program at the local school,” Pierce said. “So we thought we’ll just do one here so that when the kids get off the bus, they can just come right over, and we can do homework … Most little kids don’t like to do their homework, so they can just do it with us. We can do homework together, we can have fun, we can have a snack. A lot of times it helps ease a little bit of home life.”
Brown House also hosts a talent show in the summer, and the “Thursday Night Thing” that Pierce says is basically “just a block party” where everyone can gather to eat, drink, hang out and play.
The organization isn’t just about helping children, either. Pierce explained that the Brown House also maintains a community car and community garden, which are maintained by adults in the community.
SO, WHAT’S THE HALLOWEEN THING?
The Brown House will host its annual Halloween Thing this year, and there will be two ways that people can participate.
“It began as a big event [where] we would set up around the West Circle basketball court, and it’s a carnival-style event,” Pierce said. “Everybody has a game or an activity that they set up, and the kids kind of trick or treat from table to table, and so we did that for years.”
The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the plans for the 10-year anniversary, so the Brown House went virtual and celebrated with an online fundraiser that raised nearly $10,000 for the organization. This year, however, everyone is coming back together in person to kick off the 11th year of The Halloween Thing.
“We decided this year, we would do [the outside event] again,” Pierce said. “We feel comfortable enough [so] we’re gonna have masks out and hand sanitizer and things like that. We’re going to continue with the online fundraiser as well.”
According to the Brown House’s website, they are looking to raise $11,000 for their 11th year of The Halloween Thing. Interested donors can check out the fundraiser, dubbed “Halloween Thing 2021 Ghoulish Good Times 11 Years and Counting,” on the Brown House’s website.
Families can also receive a Halloween Thing kit, which includes a pumpkin to carve, paints and brushes, and a Halloween Thing t-shirt. The kits are $35, which goes toward funding The Halloween Thing and the Brown House.
The Brown House’s Halloween Thing will take place on Oct. 30 from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the West Circle Basketball Court.
Those who want to purchase a Halloween Thing t-shirt can do so on the Brown House’s website.
WANNA GET INVOLVED WITH THE BROWN HOUSE?
Pierce says that she always needs more tutors. The After-School-Thing takes place Monday through Thursday from 2:45 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. and requires volunteers to make a semester-long commitment.