CLEVELAND -- The commitment the Cleveland Browns have for the community was honored at the 31st annual Providence House Shades of Blue Luncheon at the Renaissance Hotel’s Grand Ballroom in Public Square Tuesday afternoon.
The Browns were recognized by Providence House as “Architects” to the Crisis Nursery over the years. Providence House has been the Browns’ “Courage House” since the team returned to the National Football League in 1999.
“We certainly take the work we do in the community very seriously and to have a non-profit recognize us, it definitely means a lot to us,” said Renee Harvey, vice president of community outreach for the Browns. “They have over 800 people in attendance here, and for us to be among those represented, we’re very honored.”
Providence House is a crisis nursery that offers emergency shelter and care to children up to six years old that are at risk for abuse and/or neglect. Since 1981, Providence House has supported more than 6,000 children and families in crisis.
According to Providence House, Ohio ranks ninth in the country and Cuyahoga County is No. 1 in the state for child abuse and neglect. Over six million children live at-risk and nearly 1,800 die of abuse or neglect in the United States each year.
“Providence House does an amazing job on a year-round basis of taking care of children that need critical help at a very vital time in their lives,” Harvey said. “They have an amazing family reunification rate, making sure family units stay intact and give families the best chances for success. We’re very proud to partner with them as our courage house.”
As part of their commitment to Providence House, the Browns hold an annual “Deck The House” event around the holidays. Silent auction items and donations from “Deck The House” help make the event Providence House’s largest single fundraiser of the year.
The Browns Women’s Organization volunteered at the event this past year and has had an ongoing commitment to helping the Providence House.
“Between the different events we did last year and the ones we have coming up this year, we look forward to deepening our relationship with Providence House and doing what we can as an organization to help,” said Jennifer Shurmur, wife of coach Pat Shurmur. “Your family is your rock. That’s your home base and anything anyone can do to keep the family unit together, it’s very important.”
“Joe and I fell in love with it; it’s hard not to,” Annie Thomas, wife of Browns left tackle
According to Annie Thomas, both she and Joe were “very, very lucky” to grow up in the households they did in Wisconsin.
“We’ve been blessed to no end with our families and that is unbelievably important for little kids, to have a solid family unit,” Thomas said. “With Providence House, the parents can come and visit them. They’re not completely separated. It’s a safe place for them to stay while their parents are working on things, getting their lives back together again. I can’t say enough about the Browns. For them to partner with the Providence House and make that an important part of what they do in the community, it’s unbelievable. We are so blessed to be a part of the Browns.”