On August 13, Waste Management driver Arnold Harvey, alongside his wife, Theresa, visited the White House to meet with Jonathan Greenblatt, Special Assistant to the President and Director of the Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation.
The purpose of their visit? To discuss a nonprofit the Harveys set up called God’s Connection Transition, which was founded after Arnold witnessed the struggles of the poor and homeless while on his collection route.
Although their organization started out small, it now collects enough food and supplies to support about 5,000 families a month in and around Gaithersburg, Md., right outside of Washington, D.C. They also operate a warehouse that allows families going through hard times to come in and stock up on the essentials.
On their White House visit, the Harveys arrived at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building (EEOB), which sits to the immediate west of the White House itself. Following a tour, the Harveys were escorted to Greenblatt’s office, which sits right next to the Blair House, where trusted foreign heads of state sleep while visiting Washington, D.C. Greenblatt warmly greeted the Harveys and asked to hear their story.
Arnold began by explaining that he was one of twelve children and that he was raised in poverty until a man – his stepfather – came into his life; giving him opportunity and guidance. It was his stepfather who told him to “make the world a better place,” and that desire is what led him, and his wife, to begin God’s Connection Transition.
Arnold explained how he began by petitioning his district manager at Waste Management to let him host an employee clothes and food drive. Following that, he and his wife distributed the items themselves. However, they soon realized that their capacity needed to grow. Soon after, coworkers, neighbors and friends began to chip in and the establishment of their nonprofit soon followed.
Greenblatt was surprised at how much they had achieved with such a small budget and then congratulated the Harveys on their efficient use of resources. He then asked, “What can I do for you?”
The Harveys explained that despite their great personal sacrifice, GTC still needed resources to meet the growing need. Greenblatt provided some direction, strategy, and a commitment to use his personal network to ensure the work continues.
As the meeting concluded, they also stepped outside for a quick photo. Arnold and Theresa then left feeling energized by the events of the day, and what lay ahead.