Heart and soul of Hallie Q. Brown Center retires after 39 years

 

Mildred Brunson, the youngest of three children, a community legend, and a community mother who loves and is loved by her community has retired after 39 years of service from the Hallie Q. Brown Community Center. Although she does not like to talk about herself, she will speak openly about her love of the children, their parents and our community when she is honored on August 19 at the Center for her life’s work of community service and youth education.

Mildred Brunson
Mildred Brunson

Originally from South Carolina, Brunson came to Minnesota to be with family in 1972.

Four years later, in 1976, she began her career at the Center located in St. Paul. According to Jonathan Palmer, executive director of Hallie Q. Brown and Brunson’s coworker, “Mildred has been the heart and soul of the organization. When we would have our Rondo Days Parade, we would have more people calling her name than the name of anyone else — including the Center name.”

Brunson eventually became the director of the Youth Enrichment Program. Many of her students have come back to the Center to enroll their own children. These same parents have gone on to work for the State or large companies. Some are doctors and others are business people.

Since she began working with students, she stated she has seen a shift in the way assignments are completed, in particular, “the way that homework is completed.” Brunson thinks that in order to get some of the students back on track “We need to remember it takes a village.”

A lot of her students would come back in the summers, and she would hire them to work with the younger youth. She says, “I have been truly blessed to work with a wonderful group of kids, parents, and the community at large.”

Her official last day was May 1. She plans to come back and volunteer at Hallie Q. Brown and be a part of the Golden Ages Program that meets twice a month. All of this will happen after she begins to “chill out and enjoy my retirement.”

Since she has been gone, she has had to write a note to a student because the homework table had been changed. She told him in the letter, “It is okay that the [table] has changed. As long as you get your homework done, it is okay.” Her legacy and work continue even since her retirement.

On the day of her celebration, a scholarship will be launched in her name, The Millie B Scholarship Endowment, which will be given to low-income families so their children can attend education programs at the Center. The Center is working on raising $10,000 for this scholarship to help continue her work for youth.

Brunson said she stayed at the Center for so long “for the love of the kids, the community and the Center.” She added,” I love the way the program goes from an academic program to a summer program that explores the outdoors. Being a country girl, I love the outdoors.” Some of her best memories are “seeing the smiles on kids’ faces when they did things they had never done before, such as fishing and camping.”

Brunson is a woman who is loved for her work and who continuously tries to improve the lives of our kids. She continues to show love and show up whenever she is called on by her community of kids.

For more information about the celebration for Mildred Brunson, call the Hallie Q. Brown Center at 651-224-4601.

 

Brandi D. Phillips welcomes all comments at bphillips@spokesman-recorder.com.