Drew Harvey of Christ UMC in Bethel Park has been named as a Jefferson Award winner for his work with The Nyadire Connection (TNC) helping to support and sustain the people and programs of the United Methodist Mission at Nyadire, Zimbabwe.
The Jefferson Awards program is a prestigious national recognition system honoring community and public service in America. Jefferson Awards are presented on two levels: national and local and were established in 1972 by Senator Robert Taft, Jr., Jacqueline Kennedy, and Sam Beard to create a Nobel Prize for public service. Today, their primary purpose is to serve as a "Call to Action for Volunteers" in local communities.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is one of 150 media partners in more than 90 communities which honor local "Unsung Heroes" — ordinary individuals who are performing extraordinary deeds. The winners are selected by a panel of local judges. Harvey was featured in a Post-Gazette ad on August 6.
He was nominated by Elsa Zollars, who handles public relations for TNC. She wrote the following on the nomination form:
Drew Harvey is a man who brings out the best in people, whether they are in Pittsburgh or in Nyadire, Zimbabwe. Drew’s intellect is matched by his passion and spiritual sense of social justice and his understated ability to organize and lead.
The retired Alcoa engineer is the chair of The Nyadire Connection (TNC), a volunteer non-profit organization whose goal is to support and help sustain the people and the programs of the United Methodist Mission in Nyadire.
In 2006, Harvey led a Volunteer in Mission Team of 18 from Christ United Methodist Church and other churches to Nyadire in rural northeastern Zimbabwe. Their plan was to help build a dormitory for student nurses, assess needs in the Mission Hospital, and conduct a Vacation Bible School. At that time, Zimbabwe, once the “bread basket” of Africa, was teetering on the brink of economic collapse with hyperinflation, famine, disease, and deterioration of education and health care programs.
The original plan turned into a dream. The team decided they wanted to enter a long- term relationship with the amazing, resilient people they had met. The Nyadire Connection was born. Their immediate goals were revitalizing both the 200-bed hospital serving hundreds of people and the needy Home of Hope Orphanage (HOH) that serves 25 children.
Fast forward to April, 2013. Harvey led another team on his seventh visit to Nyadire with a new project on the agenda – refurbishment of six remote rural clinics. In the years in between, Harvey has inspired and educated so many - volunteers, agencies, schools, other churches and non-profits, and people who have heard the stories and want to help.
More than 100 persons have visited the mission since 2006. They have helped to put 11 programs in place that provide: Salary support to keep a doctor at the hospital; medicines, hospital equipment & supplies, ocean containers of needed goods, sponsorships of HOH orphans; school sponsorships of 400 rural orphans, pastor sponsorships, and micro-loans. With help of other partners, running water is now available and rejuvenation of the 2,000 acre once productive farm has begun.
Most importantly, the work was born out of a trust relationship and is based on priorities identified by Nyadire. The native concept of “Chabadza,” the spirit of helping each other, is the cornerstone.
It would be difficult to calculate the number of hours Harvey spends on TNC and all the many details surrounding its programs, people, and future. But the impact of the leadership of one man mobilizing and educating people here and 8,400 miles away greatly multiplies the value of human condition on both continents.
Ask anyone who is involved with TNC or folks in Nyadire, they will agree their lives are fuller and enriched.