My husband and I have built a foundation for our marriage, as well as a foundation that’s helping hundreds of foster children find their forever family. Both of our foundations are based on the concept of selfless love; the kind of love that gives without expecting anything in return.
As a byproduct of adoption, I know firsthand how life-changing the gift of a family can be. I always had a desire to pay back my blessing of being adopted, and Selfless Love Foundation is just that.
Early in our relationship, I told Ed that I wanted to help foster children. To my surprise, he also had a heart for foster children, especially older youth. Ed felt these were the “forgotten children"; kids that were not likely to get adopted and eventually aged out of foster care.
As the former CEO of Tequila Patròn, Ed was in a unique position to truly change lives, and together, we wanted nothing more. So we made the decision to create a 501(c)3 in lieu of wedding gifts and Selfless Love Foundation was born.
Selfless Love's first initiative was focused on helping bridge the gap from dependence to independence for youth aging out of the foster care system. Without a family or adequate preparation to be self-sufficient, these emerging adults often struggle with homelessness and unemployment, so we stepped in to give them supportive housing, life skills training and resources, and most importantly a community of caring adults.
One young lady that has forever left a fingerprint on our hearts is Kiensha. She aged out of foster care at 18-years-old and was living in our supportive housing when she decided to adopt all four of her siblings out of foster care. Not only did she continue to raise her four siblings, but she was also in school and working full-time. Kiensha graduated from our program and went on to purchase her own home. We surprised her at our gala by furnishing it. She continues to amaze us and recently graduated with her Master’s in Social Work. Kiensha is now working as a Life Coach to help youth transition out of foster care.
Next, we set our sights on helping children in care get adopted. Selfless Love helped launch a statewide program which leverages technology to better match foster children with families. I’m thrilled to share we have already helped over 450+ foster children get connected with an adoptive family. We are finding families for the hardest to match children – teenagers, sibling groups, and high medical needs. We are even helping find families for 17-year-olds!
We gift each of our families a personalized adoption sign on their adoption day to congratulate them on their family and celebrate their day one of forever. I will never forget when a 17-year-old was adopted by a single mom, and she asked him where he wanted his adoption sign, and he stated, “Above the TV, so I can always be reminded how lucky I am.”
My husband and I just celebrated our five-year wedding anniversary. As I reflect back on our marriage, I realize true “selfless love” is what bonded us. The growth of our foundation has a direct correlation to the growth of our marriage. They are both seeds of love that we continue to water with hard work, devotion, and empathy.
Ed made me a promise five years ago to support me with Selfless Love, but I had to “do the work.” My favorite moment together was at our first-year gala. It was a tremendous success, raising over one million dollars with less than 200 people in the room. He was BURSTING with pride and emotion. Seeing our dream of transforming the lives of foster children became a reality.
Through our Selfless Love Foundation, Ed and I have created a huge family with hundreds of children whose lives we have impacted. And as for the next five years, who knows what curve balls life will throw our way; but I know through “selfless love,” we will continue to give the greatest gift of all – “FAMILY.”
If you would like to learn more about our foundation, please visit, www.SelflessLoveFoundation.org. Help us continue to foster dreams for foster children by following us on social media and sharing Selfless Love with others. @SelflessLoveFoundation
>Written By: Ashley Brown
* Ashley and Ed Brown’s wedding was featured in the Summer 2017 print edition of Wedding Style magazine.