When the federal tax overhaul was passed in 2017, Kevin and Courtney Brown made a decision.
Although the new policy put more money in their pockets at the end of the year, they saw that it cost lower-income families more. So, instead of buying a new TV or going on vacation, the couple decided to donate the difference to Bridge Refugee Services.
“I felt pretty strongly about it,” says Courtney.
“We were asking, ‘How can we solve the country’s problems at home?” Kevin says. And as a Christian and an English professor at Lee University, “For me, it’s the idea of loving your neighbor, welcoming the strangers. Christianity is about radical inclusivity.”
The Browns belong to Northminster Presbyterian Church, which hosts Bridge’s Chattanooga office. They had heard local director Marina Peshterianu speak several times, and felt that contributing to support refugees would both reflect their values and meet an urgent need.
The couple had always been generous, but typically supported more international causes, Kevin said. Giving to Bridge combined their interest in international work with serving those closer to home.
It also reflects their vocations as college teacher and, in Courtney’s case, librarian at Red Bank High School. The couple lives in Hixson.
Kevin guides his students through literature that often challenges their view of the world, asking, “What is the church missing today?” Courtney has worked to broaden the diversity of the school library’s reading material to include books in Spanish and on LGBTQ issues.
Ultimately, the Browns believe they are investing in a richer community, where everyone is welcome.
“We know the community benefits from organizations like Bridge,’ Kevin says. “I want to learn from other people who’ve had other experiences in the world.”