Julie Brown, a part-time faculty member in the Department of Communications, has been looking for some way to honor the memory of her late sister, Gloria Jean Churchill, since Churchill died of a heart attack in 2007.
It was hard to plan much as she juggled her full-time job as a high school counselor at Central High School and taught COMM 111 on campus, while also raising her daughter. But now her daughter (Taylor Brown) is 24 – “old enough to take care of herself” – and is finishing her master’s degree in physiology at UofL, which has afforded Brown more time to focus on her scholarship goal.
And so on Derby night, May 6, from 8 p.m. to midnight, Brown and her bandmates in NightBreeze will play in the University Ballroom to raise money for the new Gloria Jean Churchill Scholarship. The goal is to sell 200 tickets and award one Central High School senior a $1,000 scholarship to attend college.
“My sister always expressed wanting to help children accomplish their dream. I wanted to use every avenue that I have and pull every person that I know who is an educator to get that help,” Brown said.
During the event, Brown, the vocalist for NightBreeze, also wants to collect donations for Safe Place on Crittenden Drive, which houses students who cannot return home due to poor circumstances such as abuse.
“I have to send students there regularly who are in abusive environments. Every school in Jefferson County has had to send kids to Safe Place and people don’t like to talk about what happens when kids are in those environments, but this is real,” Brown said.
She is seeking donations such as shampoo, deodorant, feminine hygiene products, new underwear in all sizes, comforters and blankets and African American hair products.
Brown picked Derby night to host the fundraiser because it’s “Louisvillians’ Christmas.”
“There is a spirit of love and giving and camaraderie and helping one another during Derby time. That is the spirit I am trying to embody,” she said. “Yes, people like to party, but let’s do it with a purpose. Let’s listen to great music and dance and eat and still make a difference in somebody’s life.”
NightBreeze plays jazz, top 40 and R&B music. The event will also include a DJ, food and a cash bar. Tickets for the NightBreeze Derby Celebration are available online.