Carole Koepke Brown
“It has meant the world to me to be involved with the Lehigh Valley Community Foundation,” Carole Koepke Brown states. “I can do things with and through the Foundation that I could never have done alone. I didn’t have to be wealthy to accomplish my charitable goals.”
Carole’s charitable goals have been focused on maltreated children. “My strongest passion is for the very young who have suffered severe, chronic trauma. Helping them is the ‘heart of my heart.’” Her instinctive desire to help abused and neglected children was galvanized by a 1992 magazine article about the work of the Santa Monica Child Advocacy Center.
“I wanted to contribute $10,000 to start such a center in the Lehigh Valley,” Carole recalls. After speaking with Eleanor Boyslton, LVCF Executive Director at the time, the Child Advocacy Center (CAC) Fund was opened in 1993. In 2000, the temporary, donor-advised fund which Carole began at the Community Foundation, originally envisioned as helping to begin a Child Advocacy Center, did just that. The Child Advocacy Center of Lehigh County is now housed within Lehigh County’s Department of Human Services.
In 2003, the Foundation collaborated with Carole to establish a permanent fund to support SafeStart which is dedicated to stopping the cycle of abuse. “This program,” she says, “provides free therapeutic daycare all year long for infants and toddlers until their third birthday.” It has grown from serving 15 children in 2003 to serving 40 children now. There were 22 similar programs in the nation when SafeStart began. Only two are left, and Lehigh Valley's SafeStart is the only one with a site location. Our local SafeStart has become a national demonstration model.
To have seen the effects of grants made from her temporary and permanent funds at the Community Foundation has been deeply gratifying for Carole. “It makes me feel real,” she affirms. “I’m part of it.”
“The Foundation cared about me, and what I was trying to accomplish. That caring was simply a given. The Foundation was a door for me, a door I went through to learn what I could do philanthropically.”