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(OBITUARY) Alice O’Neal Browner, July 26, 1933-Feb. 6, 2023

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(OBITUARY) Alice O’Neal Browner, July 26, 1933-Feb. 6, 2023

Alice O’Neal Browner

By Rev. Diane Dougherty

Her Legacy was not in money and fame.  Her Legacy was in advocating for the homeless and less fortunate.  She was called in the time of most need to pastor homeless families and set them on a path toward success.

“Sorry, I’m not home.  I’m out trying to do some good for the world.  Leave a message.” 

That was Alice’s voicemail.

As a tirelessly engaged citizen, Alice Browner described herself as “always trying to make a difference.”

During the 70s when DeKalb and Fulton County experienced an epidemic of homelessness for families, Alice became known as an activist for the many in need.  She became an Equal Opportunity Housing Hotline Operator, advocate for the YMCA in the area, Member of the PTA; Atlanta Regional Commission, Advisory Board Member of the GSU Urban Life Center, Decatur Community Credit Union; the Mead Road Community Center….she threw a long wide net to capture and bring needed services to her space and place. She looked tirelessly “FOR THE BENEFITS,” what services are available to help the poor, broken, homeless, and helpless move on toward a better life for themselves and their children.  

A woman of compassion who knew her value and mission, she was an endless seeker of “HELP,” always with the caveat, “Ain’t No Free Ride”

She began “The Help House” on 830 Boulevard Ave SE in September 1979. Located in Grant Park, hundreds of families found temporary housing, career opportunities, secured employment, and 24 hour child care. The counseling center offered budget preparation, landlord-tenant mediation, and coping with personal disaster and daily stress.

Named Social Worker of the Year by the Georgia State Senate in 1983, she was known as a tireless activist who brought to the community programs and services that exist today. She did not do this by herself. Rather, she corralled voices, politicians, pastors, friends, church members, and government officials to do what they had the power to do….give her the help and funds needed to change the landscape of homelessness in the area.  She became a prominent member of many groups: Economic Opportunity Atlanta; Metro-Housing Coalition; Organized the Emergency Housing Shelter-Help House; Atlanta Regional Commission Housing Task Force; National Federation of Housing Counselors; Chairperson of Urban Life Associates at GSU; and First Vice President of Concerned Black Clergy

These were some of the partnerships that changed the lives of homeless families in this area. How proud she was to hear recently of the work done in Decatur to begin this spring, groundwork on Affordable Housing right here at Legacy Park in Decatur.  Not only does her legacy lie in the fact she raised four children as a single mother and supported each of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. It lies as well in the work they are all doing to carry on her legacy: assisting on a broad scale those in need to get through the most trying time of their lives, so they can live life at its fullest.  We all need to be like Alice, out trying to do some good for the world. Those who cherish her memory include daughters Denise Sharif, Shera Browner, and Connie Browner; son Barry Browner (Saundra); sister Geneva Odister; several grandchildren, great-grandchildren, other relatives, and friends.