JMC receives new van with the help of generous donor

Shown above and at top, from left to right, Pete Schownir, director of gift planning; Mindi Ahl, 2007 alum and business manager at Tom Ahl Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep in Lima, Ohio; Tom Ahl, owner of Tom Ahl dealership; and Grace McBrayer, director of volunteer service and outreach ministry. (With their "knock your socks off" deal)
JMC's Old Van

HUNTINGTON, Ind. After more than four years of fundraising, the Joe Mertz Center at Huntington University received an early Christmas present Thursday.

Through fundraising efforts, the JMC raised $3,100 toward its goal, and this week, a generous donor made up for the difference.

With a $3,500 gift from Tom Ahl Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep in Lima, Ohio owned by Tom Ahl, father of 2007 alum Mindi Ahl the JMC came home with a 2006 Chrysler Town & Country minivan from the dealership.

"This van is a huge answer to prayer, one I have been praying for since my arrival in 2008," said Grace McBrayer, director of volunteer service and outreach ministry, adding that it was the work of Pete Schownir, director of gift planning at HU, who coordinated this gift. "We believe the Lord is blessing us with a safer, newer van that will allow us to continue our ministries. We are incredibly grateful to the Ahls for their generous donation."

For 20 years, since the founding of the JMC, students have used a 1992 Ford Aerostar for transportation to service projects in the surrounding communities. Four years ago, fundraising efforts began to replace the van with a more reliable vehicle.

Because of the wear and tear on the Aerostar, the JMC was only able to use the van for short trips to Fort Wayne and around the Huntington community. Now, the Chrysler can be used for so much more.

"Receiving this newer van means we will be able to continue our ministry in the communities of Huntington, Fort Wayne and now beyond," McBrayer said. "It allows us to transport supplies and tools for work days, help with food and clothing drives, and provide for other various needs. Without this van, hours of volunteer service every week would not be happening."

The Joe Mertz Center for Volunteer Service is a student-directed organization that mobilizes the campus community for Christian service. Each year, students, faculty and staff log more than 11,000 volunteer hours working with the Boys & Girls Club, Habitat for Humanity, the Girl Scouts and numerous other community organizations. Throughout the year, students travel on mission trips with the university and host work days to help with needs in the community.

"HU has a strong commitment to serving the surrounding communities," McBrayer said. "The JMC is just one way in which students, faculty and staff are able serve in the Huntington and Fort Wayne areas."