One From the Heart
"Some of the women I interview for "One From The Heart" may catch your interest, and others will spark your imagination, but I promise that after you read this article, my January choice will touch your heart. She is a woman who looks life squarely in the face each and every day and knows that she is exactly where God called her to be. Join me in discovering and celebrating the life and work of Pastor Pearla Harvey.
Pink: Pastor Harvey what are your roots and origins?
Pearla: I was born in Georgia, the eighth of ten children. As a child I was sent, as was sometimes done in those days, to live with my grandmother. She lived in Harlem, New York and was a committed Christian. I received a very strong Bible based foundation. I have also lived in Florida and in fact, moved to Levy, South Carolina from Fort Lauderdale.
P: I know how much you value education as a tool for advancement. Can you share some of the important parts of your own education?
Pearla: I believe that a person is always being educated. I am learning all the time. Right after I graduated from high school I got a job, but kept on going to school. I studied nursing at Bronx Community College and then, when we moved to Florida, I continued at Broward Community College majoring in Liberal Arts. I have taken theology classes for Pastoral Care at Zoe University, and I have a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Grand Canyon University in Pastoral Care. I am also a Christian Chaplain certified by the International Federation of Christian Chaplains.
P: I understand that you are also a published author.
Pearla: Yes, I have written a non-fiction story about life experiences endured by one who is very dear to me. I have a relative who was abused from the age of five and was devastated by the experience. "A Silent Cry" is her story written as a tool to help her through recovery. The book has helped not only her, but also many others, come to grips with issues that the average person can barely understand.
When I interviewed Pastor Harvey, she gave me a tour of her current location on May River Road. She is in a large white mobile home and has dreams of expansion. Read on to find out some of the unbelievable things she is accomplishing in circumstances that are crowded, to say the least, and could be even more life changing than they already are if she had facilities and space.
P: Talk about where you are now, not only in your faith journey, but also in what you do here on a daily basis.
Pearla: Well, I am the Executive Director of "Community First, Inc" which is a 501 (3c) non-profit. We work to provide services and programs to assist single parent households, grandparents raising their grandchildren, and any other young person or family who needs guidance. We offer GED classes, we offer child care while parents take classes, we prepare food, we pick children up from school when necessary, we have an IEP specialist who advocates for students in our program, we have youth groups, and we teach empowerment classes. We also interact with community organizations like Bluffton Self Help and a network of churches. We are faith based and non-denominational. (If I had not seen all of this with my own eyes, I would not have believed it to be possible. This group actually does all of this and more from a trailer-and if that were not enough, Pastor Harvey also has taken in two homeless people who were found living in a shed!)
P: Are there any people who have helped you in this journey?
Pearla: Yes, I could mention many names, but especially my wonderful assistant Lucille Mitchell and her husband, and my husband John Harvey. We would never have made it this far without them. Also sent to us by God was Mr. Robert Vaux. He has donated this facility to us and serves as a valued member of our Board of Directors. We have a host of supporters in many capacities and we are very proud of their dedication and ever grateful for their service.
P: Finally, any future dreams?
Pearla: Of course-you can see we are bursting at the seams here. These times bring so many people who are in need of so many different kinds of help. My prayer is for a home, a building where we can reach out and serve more people. God has brought me here and He will see this through. I have been called to this mission and I have total faith that the right thing will happen for us.
Community First, Inc. Mission Statement Our Mission is to develop programs to assist low-income, single-parent households and households in which grandparents are raising their grandchildren. Community First understands the challenges of those families, and their concerns for their children's well-being, safety and education. We will do everything possible to (1) help children at-risk gain self-confidence and academic skills leading to successful adult lives, (2) provide for at-risk children and youth by assisting their parents or guardians to work and provide for their families' financial well-being and (3) arrange other supports necessary to protect the safety and well-being of those families.