Akron connections, partnerships raise multiple groups: Betty Lin-Fisher

In the spirit of the holidays, here’s a story about community, giving and giving back.

Earlier this year, I was already in awe of our community, as evidenced by the generosity featured in several columns I wrote as part of The Beacon Journal’s Health Disparities Project.

Today my community pride collapses further as I can share more good news and fun connections and partnerships created as a result of the project.

Readers may recall that The Beacon Journal received $ 3,000 in grants that I won as part of a Health Reporting Grant and assembled a community panel of judges in late 2019 to donate the money. to grassroots groups working to solve the problem of racism as public health publish. Readers responded by donating their own money to advance the cause, and we ended up donating over $ 10,000 to organizations.

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Betty Lin-Fisher: Miracles on Wheels Donates Cars to Break Cycle of Poverty and Disparity

One of the project’s winners, Miracles on Wheels, has enjoyed great community support since we first featured Harvey Bryant, Sr. and his wife, Michelle.

Through their popular ministry, Miracle on Wheels, Harvey has quietly repaired and donated cars to friends and strangers. Harvey has no formal auto repair experience, so he relies on YouTube and the skills he has learned.

Recently, Rita Aggarwal, co-director of Proyecto RAICES, another Beacon Journal winner, was looking for help for the mother of a program participant.

Proyecto RAICES has been serving Hispanic / Latin youth aged 4-14 in Akron since 1998. The program meets on Saturdays for a hot meal and activities, including cultural retention programs to maintain their reading and speaking skills. in Spanish, STEM and arts and crafts classes. .

Jesica de Alfaro, who featured in a Beacon Journal article on Proyecto RAICES, was unable to start her van.

Jesica de Alfaro measures the ingredients to season the chicken during a Proyecto RAICES cooking session in the kitchen of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Akron.  de Alfaro recently donated her old pickup truck to Miracles on Wheels after the group's founder helped her start the vehicle.

Aggarwal remembered reading Harvey and His Miracles on Wheels. She thought de Alfaro, a recently widowed mother of three who needs her van to get to two jobs, was someone Harvey could help.

Harvey quickly agreed.

He discovered that one of Alfaro’s children had something stuck in the ignition of the van, so he began to drill a hole to dislodge the object. In this process, it fell and the van was usable again.

The next day, de Alfaro got an upgraded pickup truck.

She was going to scrap her old van, so Harvey said he would take it to fix it and give it to someone else.

Aggarwal said de Alfaro was happy to donate the car to the ministry to help another family.

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That connection would have been pretty cool.

But there is more.

Aggarwal said she would like to have a van donated for Proyecto RAICES, but her organization does not have room to store a vehicle.

So she paid ahead. She put Harvey in touch with Manorath Khanal, president of the Akron Bhutanese Community Association. The group, which represents more than 20,000 members of the Akron community, this fall opened a head office and community center on Brittain Road.

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Akron Bhutanese Association vice-president Aakash Khatiwada, left, and President Manorath Khanal take a look at a van that is being repaired for the association by Harvey Bryant of Miracles on Wheels.

Aggarwal said she, Khanal and Harvey had a good connection when she introduced the two men.

“It was special. Here we were only connected by a little wire and it turned into something much bigger,” Aggarwal told me. “This van is going to do what it’s supposed to do. do for the community (of Manorath) because he’s that kind of leader. ”

Khanal said the community van repaired by Miracles on Wheels would be of great help to members of the Bhutanese community. Often times, cars for community members break down and if they can’t get to work, they could lose their jobs, he said.

Many members of the community do not drive or need help getting to doctor’s appointments, grocery stores or other places, he said.

“We can help provide them with transportation and if they can drive on their own, we can offer to let them take the van, drive and bring it back,” he said.

The association will pay for the insurance for the van and seek to have volunteers drive the van to pick up community members, Khanal said.

Getting a group to use one of his donations as a community vehicle has been one of Harvey’s dreams for his ministry.

Khanal has yet to meet de Alfaro to thank her, but had a message: “She has a big heart. She gives us this van, which we can use for our community and that is a great blessing.

Harvey said he was grateful for the first grant that got everything started and the various connections.

“If we can connect other people… we can see how we can come together,” he said.

The van needs a lot of interior details and seat replacement, Harvey said. He will also sand and repaint the van.

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Arnold Oden, who attends church with the Bryants and owns the Trademark Detail Center in West Akron, has agreed to cut down on the car’s details sharply to try to avoid the carpet being replaced.

“What you’re doing is wonderful, do you understand what I’m saying? Oden recently told Harvey when he came to see the van. “Because you are making a way for someone. So just to charge you a little or nothing for doing it, I absolutely love what you and your wife are doing.

Harvey Bryant of Miracles on Wheels, center, chats with Aakash Khatiwada, left, and Manorath Khanal of the Bhutanese Akron Association, about the van he is about to donate to the association .

More growth for Bryant’s ministry

Harvey was originally inspired to begin his ministry when he saw a young mother struggling to get on a bus with two young children. He believed that the barriers and additional hardships she faced could be alleviated with a reliable car.

In July, when the Beacon Journal posted an update on Harvey, I shared that a small local auto store owner had offered 10 hours of free labor for larger jobs than Harvey did. couldn’t handle.

Additionally, a reader put Harvey in touch with a colleague who helped create a website, which is now up and running: https: /www.miraclesonwheels.org

Other readers and community members donated money and cars to the ministry. And a lot of people reached out to the Bryants to ask for a car.

The Bryants wish they had enough cars for everyone who asked, Michelle said. She asked people to be patient and said they try to meet people’s needs, but it was still a small operation.

Since July, they have repaired and donated 14 vehicles and repaired 20. They have also received $ 14,000 in donations, which they return directly to the ministry.

They were also connected via a reference to Bruce Wells, who recently took over the chairmanship of an organization called Grace Thru Faith Ministries.

The ministry serves as an umbrella organization and administrator to allow other ministries to achieve 501 c (3) status without having to do the paperwork themselves, Wells said.

Wells took over as President from Grace Thru Faith in May after the death of the two founders. The organization, previously out of Tennessee, is now based in Akron, where Wells has lived his entire life.

Currently, the group works with 221 ministries in 50 states and has only grown through referrals.

Wells said he fell in love with the Miracles on Wheels ministry because he ran a similar ministry repairing cars and donating them to Medina.

By having nonprofit status through Grace Thru Faith Ministries (https://gracethrufaithministries.org), Harvey’s Ministry can now apply for grants and connect to offer other programs.

Harvey has also expressed interest in connecting with the Akron-Canton Regional Food Bank to fill a food chest when he hands someone a car. I put him in touch with a contact at the food bank through CEO Dan Flowers, who said he loved reading about Harvey’s ministry.

The department is also getting its own pickup truck that it can use to advertise and serve as a vehicle while Harvey and his wife visit people.

They received a 16 passenger van from New Trinity Baptist Church in Akron.

The van is at least 17 years old and the brakes were broken, Deacon Charles Mosley said. He had tried to sell the van to no avail and couldn’t even give it away – until a young woman from their church who knew Harvey suggested that the church give him the van.

“We feel great,” Mosley said. “We have a saying in New Trinity, ‘We are little and we can do little and what little we can do, we do in the name of the Lord. ”

“If Harvey wanted this van and he has a ministry and this van can help them, we’re more than happy to help with his ministry,” Mosley said.

To join Miracles on Wheels to donate or help or if you need a car, contact [email protected] or 234-738-3016 or https: /www.miraclesonwheels.org

To read the Health Disparities Project series, visit www.tinyurl.com/ABJHealthDisparities

Beacon Journal reporter Betty Lin-Fisher can be reached at 330-996-3724 or [email protected] Follow her @blinfisherABJ on Twitter or www.facebook.com/BettyLinFisherABJ To see her most recent stories and reviews, visit www.tinyurl.com/bettylinfisher

Harvey Bryant of Miracles on Wheels and his wife Michelle (signed) in a portrait with Manorath Khanal, left, Rita Aggarwal, right, and Aakash Khatiwada, far right, in Akron.

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