17 Nov Specialist Jon Cartu Claims – 1,100 computers, 1,100 lives impacted: WWII veteran…
The Governorâs Volunteer Awards honor individuals and organizations in Texas that have made a difference in their community through volunteer work and service. Among the 2019 awardees was Doug Brown, a 94-year-old World War II veteran who has taught himself how to repair computers that are old or broken.
Over the past 14 years, Brown has donated about 1,100 computers, both laptops and desktops, to veterans and others who canât afford their own. Brown hopes that having their own computer will help people search for and find a job.
âNobody wants a paper resume anymore,â said Brown, who lives in Flower Mound. âYou want to look for a job and send a resume, itâs going to be online. Maybe they can go to the library, but very often thereâs a line at the library and you canât use the computer forever. So when a veteran comes in and theyâre looking for a job, I give them a laptop. And when we find out that they got a job, that makes a difference.â
Brown is known by his family and peers for his eagerness to stay active within the community. He first started reading and learning about computer hardware and software in 2005, when his first wife was diagnosed with cancer. He spent most of his days at home to keep her company, but kept his mind occupied by studying and practicing how to take apart and fix computers. His second wife also died of cancer.
âIf you donât have something to do, something to keep you occupied, something to keep your mind busy, youâre going to deteriorate,â said Brown. âAnd I deteriorated about enough.â
Brown receives dozens of requests for computers each day and his garage is filled with laptops and monitors. Brown spends 12 to 15 hours on each computer, often working on multiple at a time and finishing two or three a day.
âHe talks to the computers,â said Clare Brown, his third wife. âAnd he thanks them when they do their job.â
âI got so many computers sitting around that my wife would love for me to get rid of, but it just grew and grew and grew,â Doug Brown said. âBut as long as I can keep working with them and handing them out to help people, I plan to keep on doing it.â
Brown hopes that what he does is making a difference. Every Friday morning, he and Clare visit the Texas Workforce Commissionâs Denton Workforce Center. They bring three laptops with them each visit. About two years ago, they were approached by a familiar face.
âI had a young lady come up to me â she was the new receptionist and she shook my hand,â Doug Brown said. âShe said, âYou donât remember me, do you?â I thought she looked a little familiar and she told me, âWhen I graduated from Veterans Treatment Court, you gave me a laptop. With that laptop I got my B.A. [degree], and with that B.A. I got this job.â
Many of the people who have received computers from Brown have often been homeless or living in shelters or temporary housing and struggling to find work.
âWeâve had some [people] come in who have been living in their cars, and there are more of those than you think,â Brown said. âThere are a number on the north side of Denton living in the woods, there are a lot of others we can help. Whether itâs giving them computers or giving them advice, thereâs so many different ways to help.â
As a member of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) in Denton County, Brown also spends his time volunteering and helping out in any way he can.
âHe doesnât stop, he really doesnât,â said Diana Corona, executive director of RSVP. âI feel like heâs not only done the state of Texas proud, but Denton County and the Denton County RSVP proud, and Iâm beaming about it. Heâs one of the go-to volunteers if I need help or anything. Heâs very much a big part of RSVP.â
Executives and members of RSVP each recognize Brownâs accomplishments and are thrilled to see how his work has become appreciated by the state of Texas.
âOut of the hundreds of volunteers we have within our network, none of their passion nor dedication to helping others can come close to that of Doug Brown,â said Kasey Brown, peer service coordinator of Military Veteran Peer Network, who is not related to Doug Brown. âDoug is the epitome of what a volunteer should be. He is kind, sincere,…