Mentor's care leaves impact

February 14, 2001

Mentor's care leaves impact

Editor's note: This is the fifth in a week-long series of stories profiling members of the black community who are making a contribution in the Tri-State area.

By MARLO BARNHART / Staff Writer

When she was a child, Tracey Brown gained an awareness of community and of herself that she is determined to pass on to the next generation of black youth.


Brown learned from someone she regards as a very special woman, Donnie Johnson. Johnson taught Brown, then a tomboy, how to be a young lady by introducing her to African dance and fashion shows in the 1960s and '70s.

"Growing up in Hagerstown wasn't easy for me," said Brown. "I came from a broken home and I had it pretty rough."


But what she remembers most vividly, especially during Black History Month, is the care her mentor and others took to make her proud of her heritage and her race.

"They just kept pushing me and pushing me," Brown said with a chuckle.

Brown recalls attending first and second grades at the old North Street School, then transferring to Woodland Way. Later she attended Northern Middle School and graduated from South Hagerstown High School.

Brown, 44, works with Maryland HotSpot Communities in Hagerstown, Community Mobilization and Brothers United.

"And I am also a trainer for Character Counts, a program with youth to help them realize their worth and the path they must follow to stay away from trouble and be true to themselves," she said.

Another thing that had a lasting impact on Brown's life was and still does the church.

"My mother always made sure we went to church," Brown said. "I learned that with Jesus as my role model there is no failure."

Church activities kept children busy and off the streets when she was young and Brown said she believes that remains a strong weapon against the world's temptations.

Her work at King's Apostle Holiness Church of God in Hagerstown reflects that belief.

Last November, the newly remodeled church building at 125 W. Bethel St. was rededicated during a ceremony Brown helped plan.

The congregation of about 100 active members had been meeting at Bethel Gardens since March 2000 while the work on the 12,000-square-foot addition was completed.

The funds came, Brown said, because Bishop Derek Kee has a great vision. She described the congregation as a great mixing bowl of races and nationalities.

"We cross every barrier here," she said, calling it a challenge to provide strong programs to attract youth who need an anchor in their lives.

"We have a unique calling," Brown said. "Everyone is a soul to bring in."

Brown and her husband, Stanley, have a daughter and one grandchild. She is a hair artist at Cecil's Coiffures at 19 W. Franklin St.

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