Volunteer of the Month: Bart Brown

Over the 11 years that Bart Brown has been volunteering at KidWorks’ after school programs, he’s probably given thousands of “high fives” to the young students he’s helped solve math problems or correctly pronounce long words.

Our November “Volunteer of the Month” has seen the kindergarten through fifth grade students he tutors at our Townsend Center grow into accomplished teens, attending colleges and universities.

Bart is also very much a part of KidWorks’ rich 25-year-history, having been with us from the start.

“My career from 1970 to 1999 was in commercial real estate, and I worked out of an office in Santa Ana for a company that became CBRE,” Bart says.  (Editor’s note: CBRE is the world’s largest commercial real estate services and investment firm—and a major KidWorks supporter.)  KidWorks germinated from the commercial real estate industry at that time, merging with the similar mission already underway founded by Larry and Jayme Acosta in 1993.  Back then, David Benavides (KidWorks CEO and Executive Director), was a summer intern who worked with Larry and Jayme. Over the years, KidWorks blossomed around me.”

Bart’s connection to KidWorks is as strong today as it was at our founding.  Every Monday you’ll find him at our Townsend Center, ready to tackle homework alongside our students.

“A real plus for me has been learning how math is currently taught,” Bart says.  “For a guy who learned the subject in the 1940s, it’s been a great way to maintain a senior’s mental acuity.”

“Bart’s consistency is something the kids really love,” says Karina Flores, Site Director for the Townsend Center.  “He’s intentional about learning each student’s name, personality and interests.  Bart helps our kindergarten through fifth grade students, and the sixth through eighth graders remember him and always ask how he’s doing.”

Jessica Ellis, Site Director of our Dan Donahue Center, says Bart really brings learning to life for our students.

“When the students were learning about reptiles, Bart and another volunteer paid for a private reptile show for all our students,” Jessica says.  “He'll also ask the kids about their favorite color, books and  characters.  Then he'll bring items for us to put into the treasure chest related to something some of the students told him.”

Bart says he has seen the transformation of Townsend Street from a more troubled neighborhood a few years ago, to one where real community is evident.

“The apartments are nicely maintained and there is far less graffiti,” he says. “Many of the families have lived there a long time and the parents take a real interest in their children. Mothers and fathers will walk the younger kids to and from school.  Mothers volunteer handing out snacks at each KidWorks after school session. To me, Townsend Street is a little neighborhood with a positive spirit and a growing sense of community.”

Bart and his wife, Laurie, have lived in Newport Beach since 1959, moving there after graduating college. They have two married adult daughters, plus four grandchildren ranging in age from 11 to 32. 

Laurie and Bart love to travel (the accompanying photo shows them during a recent visit to Prambanan, a ninth century Hindu temple in Indonesia).

“Bart shows how valuable empty nesters and retirees are as KidWorks volunteers,” says Tiffany San, Volunteer Coordinator.  “Their wisdom and experience is priceless.  We welcome the chance to introduce all generations to KidWorks.” 

KidWorks deeply thanks Bart for being such a vital part of our history—past, present and future!

By Glenn Leibowitz, volunteer writer