Gemmy Brown has been very active, serving the community as a dedicated volunteer on many fronts. She is a sustaining member of the Junior League of Clearwater/Dunedin and serves on the Community Advisory Board of the League. She is also a member of the Rotary Club of Dunedin, the Dunedin Fine Arts Center, and the board of the Dunedin Historical Society Foundation. While she is busy with these organizations, Brown’s primary focus is on serving the needs of libraries in Florida. She is Vice Chair of the Dunedin Public Library Foundation Board and past State Chair of the Friends and Trustees of the Florida Library Association Board. She also served on the Pinellas Public Library Cooperative Board for 3 years. Brown now serves as a member of the Florida Library Association Legislative Committee.
Brown received the History Maker Award from the Dunedin Historical Society in 1994/1996. She also received the Sustainer of the year Award from the Junior League of Clearwater/Dunedin in 1996 and Delightful Dunedin Chamber of Commerce Award in 1999. Brown served as Chair of the Dunedin Library Fundraising Task Force from 1994 to 1997 and was instrumental in the successful completion of the new Dunedin Library project. She is especially devoted to needy, rural libraries and founded the Community Libraries in Caring Project which channels support to those libraries through an informal outreach network of libraries, friends, churches, and service clubs and which share their resources, time and talents with communities in Florida that have low per-capita appropriations for their libraries. CLIC receives financial support through the Dunedin Friends of the Library.
In 2003, Brown was the impetus for the introduction of legislation by Rep. Tom Anderson creating the CLIC program in law. The bill created a grant program that will help to improve literacy and the economic viability of Rural Economic Development Initiative communities in Florida by expanding library collections and services. Governor Bush was interested enough in this project to recommend in his budget that $2,5000,000 is used to improve libraries and promote adult and family literacy in fiscally constrained counties. The Legislature appropriated $100,000 for the CLIC program in the 2004-2005 budget, and $200,000 in the 2005-2006 budget.
Brown believes the CLIC Project has proven that small steps and gestures of support can produce tremendous results in the effort to bring rural county libraries to the forefront of Florida’s conscience. The CLIC program has provided children’s dictionaries to third graders at Blountstown Elementary School with the help of the Dunedin Friends of the Library and the City of Dunedin and to Pasco County Elementary Schools with the help of Dunedin Rotary Clubs. In some families, this was the first dictionary ever brought into the home. In the Three Rivers Regional Library system, CLIC has also provided a portable library of Spanish-language children’s and adult books for the Hispanic community and has assisted some rural libraries with additional finding for their summer children’s programs.
Brown headed the Rotary International project on literacy with her “Words for Thirds” project of supplying dictionaries to third graders in District 6950, where over 600 books were distributed to five elementary schools in Pasco County. This was the same “Words for Thirds” program that was successfully completed in Calhoun County, Florida. The dictionaries will stimulate an enthusiasm and excitement for reading, improve literacy and contribute to a lifetime love of books. Brown’s efforts in her community and throughout rural Florida with the CLIC program have been an inspiration to many people. CLIC will expand much needed library services and technology in those communities where the improvement of adult and children’s literacy will enhance their economic viability and propel them into the 21st century.