Arnold Harvey was just minding his own business at work when he stumbled upon a distressing scene. And in that moment, the garbage man was unable to look away. What’s more, what Harvey had witnessed made such an impact upon him that he decided that he had to do something to make a change.
Harvey himself, meanwhile, is a father of five from the city of Gaithersburg in Maryland. He had previously served in the U.S. Army; since those days, however, he had begun to work as a commercial driver with a waste management company.
And throughout his life, Harvey had experienced hardships. As a child, he’d grown up in one of the toughest neighborhoods in Kansas City, for instance. In addition, as a man with 11 siblings, he may have learned the importance of sharing from an early age.
Consequently, Harvey made a promise to God that he would share his success if his life improved. And, in time, the garbage man did do pretty well for himself; he was employed, had a large family of his own and a desirable house in the suburbs.
So, given Harvey’s good fortune, the time was right for him to give back. All that he needed, then, was to find a cause to turn his attention to. But as fate would have it, the veteran was about to stumble on a dire situation that he just couldn’t ignore.
And on that day in 2007, Harvey was working on his garbage round in Washington, D.C.’s metro area. His was a graveyard shift, lasting from 2:00 a.m. until midday. It was during these ungodly hours, moreover, that Harvey witnessed the most heartbreaking of sights.
In particular, as Harvey drove down the darkened streets, he noticed that there seemed to be more people sleeping rough than usual. And when he paid closer attention to the homeless individuals he was passing, he realized that many of them were children – a state of affairs that devastated the garbage man.
Furthermore, while speaking to People in 2014, Harvey revealed that the moment was somewhat of an epiphany for him. “It hurt, it really hurt, to see something like that,” he revealed. “It just turned my heart.”
Indeed, Harvey knew that he couldn’t just ignore those poor people on the streets: he had to help them. To that end, then, he teamed up with his brother to take some video footage that depicted the homeless community’s plight. Subsequently, the pair presented their findings to Harvey’s manager and inquired, “Is there anything we can do as a company?”
And with his manager’s blessing, Harvey began amassing blankets and coats – items that may come in very handy during cold nights on the streets – to donate to people in need. The sanitation worker and his wife, Theresa, also started to make sandwiches to give out at a local homeless shelter.
What’s more, Harvey’s efforts to assist the homeless eventually led to him running his own non-profit, God’s Connection Transition. And by 2014, the organization was distributing food to 5,000 families every month from its Gaithersburg warehouse.
Harvey has had a little help in feeding so many, however, as big businesses like Safeway, Costco, and Pepperidge Farm have been willing to give away some of their wares for free to the garbage man’s charity. Those from churches and food pantries then collect goods from the God’s Connection Transition warehouse and deliver them to those they know who need them most.
And Reverend Dr. Oswen Cameron from Lighthouse Ministries International has seen first hand how much Harvey’s efforts have meant to people, as his church has been among the organizations that help feed individuals with the donated food. Cameron would even tell People that the work was “critical and crucial,” adding that if God’s Connection Transition hadn’t lent a hand, “a lot of people would go to bed hungry at night.”
Furthermore, and thanks to his good deeds, Harvey was even named as one of Fortune magazine’s “Heroes of the 500” in 2014. That year, the campaign recognized 50 employees of Fortune 500 companies who have gone above and beyond the call of duty and proved their kindness or bravery as a result.
But while Harvey likely appreciated the honor, it may have been the words of those he helped that meant the most. And the recipients of his charity weren’t short of praise for the generous gentleman, either.
Philomene Binam-Dorsey, in particular, has lauded Harvey for his good work. In 2014 Binam-Dorsey was the head of a household of seven and worked in childcare; her husband, Antony, meanwhile, was a maintenance man. However, their combined hourly wage of $25 simply wasn’t enough to cover her family’s expenses.
As a result, she visted God’s Connection Transition once a month to pick up a food package. And in explaining just what the extra help meant to her and her family, Binam-Dorsey told People, “When you’re living from paycheck to paycheck, food is a necessity, but it’s an expensive necessity.” She added, “This is a blessing, a godsend.”
Giving out food isn’t the only way in which Harvey has helped the needy, though. To provide for local children, for instance, he has run yearly collections of toys and bikes; he has also helped provide shelter for homeless individuals in the form of tents.
And, according to Harvey, the tents do more than protect people from the elements. “The tents keep them safer and let them sleep better,” he told The Washington Post in 2015. “But we also figured out that when we get someone a tent, everything gets better.”
However, while Harvey is passionate about his work, he doesn’t believe that he’s doing anything particularly special. “We’re all human, no matter what situation we’re in,” he told People. “[Folk] just want to know someone cares.”