MacCanon Brown

"We look to people of faith to understand our work."


2007 Woman of Faith claims homeless community as family

“The day I entered those doors, my life changed. Those are some miracle doors! MacCanon Brown had her arms outstretched and said, ‘Welcome.’ I was invited to share a meal, take a shower and offered clean clothes. I learned I was somebody. I was worth something. Today, I thank God for this Center. We are a family and I’m in the best place in the world. God is here!” exclaims Pam, a Repairers of the Breach “miracle.”

MacCanon Brown is the executive director of Repairers of the Breach. Often called a lifesaver, she readily acknowledges, “The Center is not about me, but a world of we’s.” It is Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s only daytime shelter and resource center for homeless adults where homeless persons are members — not clients. “Our founders, staff, volunteers, board of directors, members and friends all have worked to provide a safe, positive living room environment.”

In accepting our 2007 Woman of Faith Award, Brown credits her parents, a “24/7 pastoral team” in the United Methodist Church, as powerful role models. Her mother Verla is her guiding light. She is proud of her two sisters, four grown children and five grandchildren. She claims, as her extended family, the homeless community who affectionately call her “Sister.”

An Iowa native, her diverse background includes publishing four books, most recently, End Hunger! After moving to Milwaukee, she experienced a profound personal crisis and became a recipient of services offered to the homeless. Through attending St. Ben’s Meal Program, Brown was invited to St. Ben’s Parish and later awarded a scholarship to the Benedict Institute, an urban ministries course. She responded to the Catholic Social Teachings and the life and writings of Dorothy Day by converting to Catholicism. After her crisis, she made a vow to help homeless persons. Soon after, she was invited to a board meeting of the newly formed Repairers of the Breach organization.

Today the scope of the center’s programs includes an educational program, recovery support, job counseling, a free telephone and message center, mail service, help obtaining birth certificates, as well as links to other social service agencies. Plans to renovate the facility include a medical clinic to better serve people in crisis. “We are faith-driven, not money-driven,” Brown explains. “Over 320 faith communities support us across many faith traditions. We do not accept government funding and have never been in debt. We look to people of faith to understand our work. All of us involved with Repairers of the Breach experience the power of mutual transformation. We believe in one another and are a family, a community of faith.”