Lifeline to Success was born when DeAndre Brown and his wife Vinessa realized that they could use his experience—learning to deal with the problems, confusion and frustration of returning to a community after prison—to help others.
It began as a sideline endeavor with six-ex offenders meeting twice a week for a class on re-entry. Today Lifeline enrolls, trains and employs 41 ex-offenders. In addition to working to transform themselves, they are working to solve some of the biggest problems facing Memphis—crime, blight, violence, joblessness and other aspects of what DeAndre calls "criminal culture."
DeAndre D. Brown, Sr. – Executive Director
A Memphis native, DeAndre split his time growing up between inner city Memphis and rural Arkansas. A gifted student, he spent two years on a pre-med track at Rhodes before being lured by the “easy money” of being a career criminal.
Before prison, he ran a janitorial service as a cover for his criminal enterprises. During his nearly two years in prison, he learned about landscaping, found his Christian faith and became a “jailhouse preacher.” After prison, he returned to the cleaning business legitimately. But it wasn’t long before his past got in his way again.
Leaders at the area hospital where he had a cleaning contract asked him to act as a volunteer chaplain as well. When their routine background check turned up his felony, they hired his crew away and terminated his contract.
The experience was devastating, he says. But it also led him to start connecting the dots—connecting his passion for preaching with a community of ex-offenders in need of re-entry support…connecting his janitorial and landscaping endeavors with those ex-offenders looking for work.
DeAndre also serves as pastor of Lifeline to A Dying World Ministries. He and Vinessa have eight children. He enjoys singing in the LeMoyne-Owen College Gospel Choir, teaching Bible studies and playing the piano. His passion is assisting and guiding those that are lost and searching for acceptance.
Vinessa Brown – Director of Development
Born in California, Vinessa studied psychology and business administration in college and worked in the packaging and freight industry for more than 15 years. She moved to Memphis as a single mom to take a job with a packaging company.
When she met DeAndre, she was put off by his “thug” persona, but something about him intrigued her. She stuck with him through 25 months in prison and watched him transform—dropping the persona and becoming the man he was meant to be.
Vinessa shares her husband's passion to help ex-offenders change their lives. She spends all of her time with her children and husband and at church.