published Friday, March 9th, 2012

Carey V. Brown's billion-dollar pledge enhances Chattanooga's charitable reputation

Chattanooga's sterling reputation for charitable giving just got another boost. Local businessman Carey V. Brown, 53, has pledged to donate an astonishing $1 billion through a new Christian philanthropic organization, the Covenant Values Foundation, by the time he retires.

It is unclear exactly when the full amount will be disbursed, but up to $625,000 could be bound for worthy causes within less than two months.

The foundation intends to match up to $100,000 in money that is newly raised in April at each of six local organizations: Chattanooga Community Kitchen, Tennessee Temple University (which Brown attended years ago), Precept Ministries International, Teen Challenge, On Point and the Dawson McAllister Association. On Point, which works with teens to help them make wise decisions, is slated to get the first gift from the Covenant Values Foundation: $25,000.

Brown had a successful used-car business in Rossville, Ga., and now has ownership interest in more than a dozen businesses.

"I've been blessed, so I can bless others," he said.

He commendably hopes the foundation's work will help reverse the current perception of abortion as somehow acceptable.

That desire is rooted in his memories as a student in New York, where he saw aborted infants in trash cans following the unconstitutional Roe v. Wade decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. That "planted a seed," he said, noting that "Today, we sacrifice babies to the god of convenience" if they are deemed imperfect or are "not the gender we wanted."

He hopes abortion will come to be viewed "like slavery is now."

Meanwhile, local groups that will be early beneficiaries of his generosity were pleased and grateful.

The billion-dollar pledge is "a gracious gift, an enormous gift," said Tennessee Temple University President Steve Echols, who vowed that the school would raise the matching $100,000.

Added Lesley Scearce, president and chief executive officer of On Point: "I am overwhelmed at this generosity. We're honored to be a part of such a significant investment in the kingdom."

Roger Helle, executive director of Teen Challenge of the Mid-South, summed it up well by linking the pledge to Chattanooga's reputation for giving: "I've never seen a more generous community," he said.

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