What DRIVES this UPS driver? “My mom was very outspoken in the community,” says James Big Brown Joseph, a UPS package car driver in Baton Rouge. “I’d call her an activist. If she saw something that needed to be fixed or made right, she didn’t wait for help... She did it herself. If she saw a child without shoes, she would get them shoes. Clothes, food, whatever was needed. I’m just continuing the work she started long ago.”
Joseph has spread so much love around Louisiana in his 21 years at UPS that he just received the highest honor bestowed upon a UPS employee, the Jim Casey Community Service Award in 2017. The award, created in 1995, is named in honor of one of UPS’s founders and its long-time CEO.
This is ‘Big Brown’s’ town!
Everyone in the Baton Rouge area seems to know Joseph as “Big Brown” – that’s a nickname easy to decipher. Joseph stands 6 feet 8 inches tall and wears a lot of brown.
After playing and graduating from Abilene Christian, he toured the world for two years with the world-famous Harlem Globetrotters. After playing pro basketball for several more seasons overseas, he returned home and took a seasonal job with UPS. He’s never left.
Joseph’ community service is far-reaching. In fact, it is so vast that he started a nonprofit, Big Brown Reaching Back, to bring order to all his work. He selflessly supports those around him, just as his mother, Lillie Joseph, did before she passed away in 2006. “We didn’t have much to offer,” Joseph remembers about his childhood, “but we shared all we had.”
Setting a cool example
In Pointe Coupee Parish in 2009, Joseph happened upon a rather dilapidated house. Inside, an elderly woman suffered in the heat of the Louisiana summer. Her home had no air conditioning. The situation moved Joseph to act. He launched Beat the Heat, a program that donates fans and air conditioning units to elderly and needy members of the community. Joseph and fellow UPS volunteers have installed hundreds of units during off-duty hours, making life bearable for many residents.
Larger than life
Joseph’s Big Brown Reaching Back fund supports 20 different organizations, and has helped people made homeless by recent flooding in Baton Rouge, delivered toys for needy children, equipped schools, and provided meals for those in need. Many of Joseph’s fellow UPSers in Louisiana also have donated their time and money to assist with these efforts.