Neighbors: Meet Gloria Thompson-Brown
The second story in our Neighbors series focuses on Gloria Thompson-Brown, a long-time resident of Danville, Illinois. See below for the transcription of her interview, which includes voice overs from WILL's Celeste Quinn.
"My name is Gloria Thompson-Brown. I moved to Danville in December 1963 coming from the state of Florida."
Gloria has lived in the neighborhood she calls home since 1994.
"This is what they call the old part of Danville and what I mean by that is that Danville started from this area."
Gloria, her husband, Huey Lee Brown, and two of her grown children live in a house they rent on Robinson Street. Ask her about her home and she lights up. She likes the backyard and the enclosed front and back porches, and she loves the fireplace. Family photos and mementos are proudly displayed on the mantle.
They rent the house through Section 8, which is, essentially, a voucher program administered by public housing agencies to eligible people with very low incomes.
"I think I stayed in public housing 22 years and then a program called "Operation Bootstrap" - you pull yourself up by your own bootstraps, so to speak-enabled me to become a participant in the Section 8 program and that was in 1989." While she lived in public housing and raised her children, Gloria worked for the housing authority.
"I started to work in the office. It was Carver Park Houses and I became the Community Services Advisor on staff there. And that gave me a broad spectrum of knowledge on both sides of the fence - as a resident and a Danville employee. I feel so well-educated (laughs) if might say that - in speaking on housing issues."
Today Gloria Thompson Brown is the Resident Services Coordinator at Green Meadows Apartments a privately owned, low-income housing complex, "and one of my main jobs is to bring as many on-site services that's conducive to the families there in that area. Residents have the right to live in safe, sanitary and decent living conditions."
Gloria is also an advocate for her neighbors and her neighborhood. Gloria's neighbors get together and talk to the city about their concerns which have included dilapidated housing and prostitution. They may also write letters to the editor. Gloria says as a result, prostitution has been greatly reduced and problem properties cleared.
She's been in the neighborhood for about 16 years. The neighbors feel comfortable calling on one another, lending one another a hand when needed. They keep an eye out for one another and the safety of the neighborhood. When her husband's bicycle was stolen, a neighbor saw it and returned it.
Gloria can count on neighbors to help shovel snow or give her a lift, if she needs a ride. Another of her neighbors:
"Has some young sons who know that my husband and I love fish. They go fishing and they'll drop off fish if they don't want to clean them. They know we'll clean them and eat them, too."
Gloria Thompson-Brown of Danville, Illinois.