Spotlight on Barry Brown, Long-Time Member of FOVEC, Avid Volunteer, and Lifelong Community Advocate
We're pleased to introduce Barry Brown in our Business Spotlight Series.
We're spotlighting various merchants in the Fair Oaks Village, as well as individuals who support what FOVEC does, all while giving you a little insight into our history and what we do for the Village. We encourage you to share these local stories and visit with merchants to get to know them firsthand.
We connected with Barry Brown to learn more about his history with FOVEC and his years of local service and volunteering.
What do you/did you do for a living?
Well, I had three careers.
First, I worked for the State of California. I worked in the Department of Water Resources for 19 years, then in the Department of Conservation for 2 years, and then I was with the Energy Commission for 4 years. I call that 25 years with the State my first career.
Then I took a position with the Western Farm Credit Bank, an agricultural bank, and I retired there with 20 years of service.
I was also with the Army for 28 years. I served mostly in the National Guard with some active duty time.
How long have you lived in Fair Oaks?
I moved here in 1968 (from Carmichael), so about 51 years. I was inspired to move to this area because I desired to have a little more property so I could have a little orchard and a garden area (as I have an agricultural background). I found this place in Fair Oaks that had two acres and it was exactly what I wanted.
In your own words, what is the importance of the Fair Oaks Village to individuals and the community at large?
It’s considered Old Fair Oaks and it’s kind of the center point of the major activities in the community.
It’s attractive because it has an amphitheater and a clubhouse that put on performances (plays, concerts...) that attract a broad number of people from the region. It also has a bandshell that allows about ten concerts a year.
Overall, there’s just a great old-fashioned feel to the Village and I believe that’s what attracts people to the Village.
When and how did your involvement with FOVEC start?
I started volunteering around 1986 when my careers were coming to an end.
I had been involved in dealing with water issues all of my career with the State Agencies and the Farm Credit System. I had a desire to get involved with the community, so before I retired I ran for a position on the Fair Oaks Water District and I got on that.
When my careers came to an end, my new career became community service.
I was on the Water Board for 25 years and then I got involved with the Fair Oaks Foundation for Leisure and the Arts, the Historical Society, the Chamber, and then the Fair Oaks Village Enhancement Committee (FOVEC) when it began in 2007.
What kind of things did you do for FOVEC?
For all of the aforementioned organizations, I’ve done all sorts of projects. For FOVEC, I’ve put together bylaws and developed 501(c)(3)'s, audited organizations' books, and a whole variety of things.
At Fair Oaks Foundation for Leisure and Arts (FOFLA), I was involved in putting together a five-year project for a Donor Plaza down near the Old Bridge. It honors the many donors and their efforts to preserve the Fair Oaks Bluff (the area right above the Old Bridge on the east side). It was a long-term project to buy property and give it to the county to preserve that as part of the American River Parkway System.
Now at FOFLA I’m currently involved with putting together a Founders Monument in the Village, down at the foot of Bridge Street.
What was your favorite thing about working with FOVEC?
Well, my favorite thing is their desire to improve the Village and make it more attractive, and that they’re continually making it more appealing to broader community interests.
Village improvements are ongoing. Parking is a problem and were trying to expand that. We’ve already put in over half a million dollars of improvements in the village for ADA walkways, crosswalks, planters, and lighting systems.
It’s been very satisfying to see that we’re making progress and that we continue to work on additional projects. That’s what excites me about being a member of FOVEC.
What has volunteering meant to you?
Volunteering is a desire to give back to the community. I have certain skills and experiences that seem to fit well with all of the organizations that I work with.
It’s a joy to share my skills and experiences to benefit the community.
I’ve always felt strongly about community service; it’s a part of being a good citizen.
What would you say to others who are contemplating volunteering?
You won’t appreciate how much pleasure serving gives you until you do it. The benefits are many and it helps in your personal growth. I could go on and on, but I feel that that encompasses what I feel about volunteering.
In your own words, what is the most valuable thing about volunteering for the volunteer?
Volunteering is an important element in the fulfillment of your life.
What is the most valuable thing volunteers bring to an organization?
In addition to the help the organization receives, it’s the diversity of interests and opinions that help broaden and enhance the objectives of the organization.
Are there any other thoughts that you’d like to share?
Of course, there’s great satisfaction from seeing that you can provide skills, experiences, background, and professional experiences that can add to community interests and projects...
But one of the more important aspects, to me, is the friendships that I’ve developed over the years and the awareness of individuals in the community who have the ability to stand up and get things done.