The ‘opportunity’ that comes with 15 tornadoes

Sometimes the nuggets that don’t make it into stories are the ones that bring tears to your eyes.

One such nugget I’ve heard while reporting stories about the Memorial Day tornadoes came from the Rev. Anthony Harvey.

The sales manager at Seven Up Bottling Co. and pastor of Living Hope Church in Trotwood, slid it in during the last moments of our chat this week.

It was a response to the question I almost always save for last: “Is there anything you want to say that I didn’t ask you about?”

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The question, a reporter’s “trick” I suppose, often solicits the best responses.

I will back up a little.

Harvey, a 39-year-old Dayton native, is among the army of people on a grassroots level who have been helping other people recover from the worst natural disasters to hit the region in generations.

I was interviewing him by phone about SoLoved, an organization led by his friend Ashley Browning.

Harvey slipped in two stories about love, something you’d expect from a pastor.

I kind of knew where he was going, but that didn’t stop a tear from forming in the corner of my eye.

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Harvey approached a group of white people cooking food under a tent in a predominately black neighborhood. He asked a man in the group what church or organization the group represented.

The man said he was not with a church or organization.

“‘This is my family’,” Harvey recalled the man saying. “He said they saw that there was a need ‘so we packed up and came out to help.’”

Across town in the days following the tornadoes that have left many in the Miami Valley homeless, Harvey spotted the opposite: a group of young black men in a pickup passing out water to people in a predominately white neighborhood.

“Seeing these two things in one week, it brought me back to reality,” Harvey said.

I’ve seen the same while telling the story of the tornadoes: people of all colors and economic classes helping people of all colors and economic classes.

It doesn’t surprise me one bit.

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I’ve seen it before the storms, despite our religious, geographic, racial and any other differences that supposedly divide places like Dayton.

We know the reality and we know what’s possible, even when what is possible is hard to see.

“I think the tornadoes have revealed that we are not as divided as the (national broadcast) media says that we are,” Harvey told me. “This is an opportune time for everybody to come together to ensure that all needs are met in our community.”

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