James Big Brown Joseph

Difference Makers: UPS driver ‘Big Brown’ is giving back, making a huge impact in Louisiana

BATON ROUGE – It’s hard to miss James “Big Brown” Joseph in a room full of people. Not only does he tower physically over almost everyone, but this gentle giant has a heart for helping others that is just as big.

Joseph is a UPS driver. One day while making deliveries on his route, he noticed an elderly woman who didn’t have air conditioning. He also noticed something peculiar in her house, the people inside were lying down on the floor. When he asked why they were on the floor, the lady told him because it was cooler down there.

Joseph bought the woman an air conditioner and installed the window unit in her home.

In 2009, he started “Beat the Heat” and he and other UPS employees bought and installed over 23,000 window units for people living throughout Louisiana. At first, it was funded all via donations.

Then Joseph started an organization called “Big Brown Reaching Back Fund” and its slogan is “Strengthening South Louisiana One Family at a Time.” It is made up of UPS employees who donate to the organization from UPS centers across Louisiana and install air conditioners for people in need.

Right now, Big Brown Reaching Back Fund only has one UPS facility in Ruston left to work with. They plan to tackle it this summer, and purchase and install air conditioners for people in Ruston and the surrounding area.

Big Brown’s good deeds don’t stop there. Any school his children have attended, Joseph wants to be involved there too. He says he will do whatever his kids’ schools need.

Realizing how much need there is in Louisiana schools, Big Brown’s organization focused on helping as many schools as they can throughout the state. UPS has sponsored a lot of schools and UPS workers have gone in and painted, installed playground equipment or new lockers, whatever the school needs, they have done it.

Three years ago, they launched “Swimming for Jayla” to teach young children how to swim.

“We had a UPS employee’s daughter go to the Gulf of Mexico, they were playing in the water and a rip tide came in and snatched her and drowned her,” said Joseph. From that point on he vowed to never see any child in Louisiana drown.

“We’re in the state of Louisiana where we’re surrounded by water,” Brown said. “Our kids need to learn how to swim.

To date, the organization has helped 45,000 kids learn how to swim.

Where did Joseph get the inspiration to help others? He credits his mother Lilly Joseph and his uncle Jesse Joseph, who were known in the Eden Park community of Baton Rouge, for giving back.


“They always said ‘we have, and we need to share’,” recalled Joseph.

Giving back is exactly what he’s done. The Big Brown Reaching Back Fund’s also hosts a toy giveaway every Christmas.

“You know giving a child a toy for Christmas, that child might only get one toy for Christmas but at least he got something,” Joseph said. “Putting in an air conditioner in an elderly woman’s house and she says ‘Hey, I feel good. I can sleep good tonight.’ That’s the trophies that I like.”

It is the smiles and helping others that make Joseph the happiest and also helps him sleep soundly. Knowing he has made a difference in someone’s life is what keeps him going.

To learn more about The Big Brown Reaching Back Fund, follow them on Facebook.

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