Being the Change

Helping the Needy


SUMMARY: Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Shelby Brown McDowney ('93) has been meeting the needs of those in her local Richmond, Virginia, community.

By Khalil Garriott (’04)

The phrase “labor of love” can get tossed around so much that it eventually becomes a cliché. But Shelby Brown McDowney (’93) truly embodies the axiom through her work with the “Mission From the Heart” initiative.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Brown McDowney has sought to meet the needs of those around her in Richmond, Virginia. Brown McDowney, a longtime broadcast journalist and news reporter for Richmond’s CBS affiliate, led a two-week telethon donation campaign that raised more than $100,000 for residents in and around Richmond to use toward their rents and mortgages.

Brown McDowney’s nonprofit organization serves and supports the surrounding area. But her volunteerism doesn’t stop there. She also partnered with her JMU alumni friends and several churches to distribute nearly 2,000 boxes of fresh produce, milk and other perishable items to local residents in need.

“I was truly humbled by the community outpouring to help us help families facing eviction stay in their homes,” Brown McDowney said. “There was so much gratitude and appreciation from the families, and I felt truly blessed to be able to help. I was moved to tears with each story of families who didn’t know where they would go if they hadn’t received our assistance.

“I believe that to whom much is given, much is required,” Brown McDowney said of her efforts with Saint Paul’s Baptist Church. “I have been blessed with a wonderful family, great friends and a fantastic job, and realize how fortunate we are. Growing up, it was just instilled in us to help others. I am No. 12 out of 13 children!”


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Published: Monday, February 8, 2021

Last Updated: Tuesday, May 25, 2021

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