Assemblyman Chris A. Brown has been selected to receive the Thom Schiavo Humanatarian Award from Beth El Synagogue in Margate in recognition of his military and community service.
“To say it’s an honor and a privilege to receive the Father Schiavo Memorial Award is an understatement,” said Brown, R-Atlantic. “There are not enough efforts, like this ceremony, to build bridges of understanding among people with different beliefs, customs, and traditions. I was fortunate to learn as a boy to appreciate the differences among us and yet, see what unites us.
“Our time in this life is short, but the quality of our time here is in direct proportion to the treatment we afford others, especially to those with whom we do not have anything in common,” he continued. “Father Thom understood this. Rabbi Krauss and this congregation understand this. I am grateful for the gift this congregation gives the community each year by reminding all of us the importance of tolerance, understanding, and respect for others.”
Brown will receive the award, sponsored by Beth El Synagogue, 500 N. Jerome Ave, Margate, at a 7:30 p.m. ceremony on Friday, May 9. The media may take photos at 7:15 p.m. Photo taking will not be permitted during the ceremony.
The award is named for the late Rev. Thom Schiavo, who was assistant pastor at Blessed Sacrament Church in Margate at the time of his death at age 37 more than 20 years ago. Schiavo, of Italian and Jewish descent, had reached “across boundaries of religion and race to make the world a better place.”
Brown, a decorated combat veteran of the first Persian Gulf War, noted that his father and grandmother had a strong influence in shaping his values. He credits his father, who served as chief of the Atlantic City Beach Patrol, with teaching him the value of public service while his grandmother, a Jewish emigre from Hungary, taught him, “We are all God’s children.”
Currently serving his second term in the New Jersey General Assembly, Brown is a graduate of Rutgers University where he was a member of the ROTC. Upon graduation, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army.
During Operation Desert Shield/Storm, he was awarded the Bronze Star and Combat Infantryman Badge for his service while spearheading the ground offensive into Iraq.
In 2008, Brown was activated to war a second time to serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom. For both of his wartime activations, he could have received a deferment, but each time, he chose to serve. For Operation Iraqi Freedom, he left behind his wife and three children and a small business to serve his country. He was honorably discharged with the rank of Major.
During the years between his military service, Brown graduated from Widener University Law School and opened a small business in Atlantic City.
He also serves his local community. He is the founder and president of the Chief Arthur R. Brown, Jr. Memorial Scholarship Foundation, which has awarded over $250,000 in scholarships to local students since 1992. He is a lifetime member of the Atlantic City Chapter of the NAACP, where he previously served as chairman of the Legal Redress Committee. Additionally, he serves in the Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation, AMVETS Post 911, VFW Post 3361, Clark-Edison American Legion Post 352, and the Atlantic City Jaycees.
As a legislator, Brown has sponsored laws to assist veterans transitioning to the civilian workforce, promote more housing options for veterans, and financially assist veterans’ organization. For his efforts, AMVETS recognized his as “Assemblyman of the Year” for 2013.
A member of the Assembly Tourism and Gaming Committee, he has also sponsored legislation to enhance New Jersey’s tourism industry and ensure women receive proper health care.