Keywon Brown likes to think of the nonprofit he founded as an “imagination engine”— one that provides ideas for others to do good for their community.
Brown founded Life Enforcement in his adopted hometown of Fond du Lac in 2014, after moving there from Milwaukee in 2001. He says the organization’s mission is “to inspire ourselves and others to ‘take care of’ our community through purposeful Selfless Acts of Kindness.”
Such acts might include hosting a Christmas dinner for those in need, dropping off “secret admirer” gifts at a nursing home, paying for kids’ tickets at a local Dock Spiders baseball game or other creative outreach initiatives.
“We may not be able to change the world in one day, but we can inspire tomorrow’s generation,” says Brown, a 10-year veteran of the Fond du Lac Police Department. “Being generous and kind is a fun and awesome thing.”
An African American, Brown moved to the predominately white Fond du Lac at a time when the community was facing several issues.
“When I first started, there were a lot of issues going on in my community — a lot of negativity, a lot of divide,” says Brown, who says he escaped an abusive home growing up.
He is determined — along with a team of volunteers who make Life Enforcement work — to lead by example. “We, as a whole, are here to make Fond du Lac a better place,” he says.
Life Enforcement is funded through donations and fundraisers. “We are very efficient with our funds,” Brown says.
While he says his organization is still at the grassroots level, he feels the group has gained more traction and awareness in the area. Each organized event averages about 200 attendees, Brown estimates.
One of the mottos is to inspire others to help TCO (take care of) others “without the expectation of benefit, besides feeling good about the kind act in and of itself and how it has helped spread joy and kindness in the community.”
As Brown has witnessed, volunteering doesn’t just impact those who are helped — the volunteers definitely reap benefits as well.
Just ask Kayla Vande Slunt, a mom who received Life Enforcement’s help three years ago.
“I was so grateful and taken aback by the generosity and willingness to help strangers and wanting nothing in return,” she says. “I have always been a person who will give the shirt off my back even when struggling, but my anxiety and fear of rejection kept me from going out and doing it on my own.”
Now she’s a member of Life Enforcement working to TCO others.
“I’m so grateful for Keywon and this amazing organization that he started,” Vande Slunt says.
While Brown was recognized a few years ago by the local Fond du Lac newspaper as one of its most inspiring citizens, he lauds all those who help him TCO the community.
“We can be positive and take action ourselves,” he says. “There’s no room, in my opinion, to just complain about a community.”
His group has proven that is possible, especially in a smaller city like Fond du Lac.
“I do feel like we can have a broader impact because it is smaller,” he says.
Brown knows firsthand the impact being TCO’d — as he calls it — can have.
“When I look at my life growing up, I wanted to get out of a situation, and I was blessed to get out of a situation,” he says.