A Servant's Servant
Greg Dewbrew has been selflessly serving the community of Mansfield for nearly three decades now. But back in 1986, he was intent on satisfying his own pleasures and had a goal of becoming a drug lord. That’s when everything changed. His 3-year-old son, Kellin, asked his father about drugs and it stopped Dewbrew dead in his tracks. He got clean, became a Christian and began pouring himself into serving the local community.
For the past two-and-a-half decades Dewbrew has worked tirelessly to get food to families struggling to make ends meet. He is president of Harvesting International Ministry Center, Inc. (www.himcenter.org), a large food bank and food pantry in Mansfield. The food pantry distributes directly to individuals, and the food bank supplies other organizations that in turn give to those in need.
He has long been active in his church and also loves helping folks outside the church walls. He has been involved in numerous community outreaches and events, both at home and abroad. He was instrumental in developing food distribution hubs during Hurricane Katrina, the Oklahoma floods and the North Texas tornadoes. Dewbrew and his wife, Susan, have four children (Kellin, Whitney, Ben and Jaclyn) and three grandchildren (Serenity, Kennadi and Connor).
We asked Dewbrew to tell us a little more about himself, his penchant for serving and Harvesting International.
How did you get interested in helping those in need?
I grew up in a home headed by a single mom. I was the oldest of five kids in the house and we did not have much money. After moving out on my own, there were a lot of years that I just lived selfishly, that is, until I gave my life to Jesus. That’s when I started volunteering at Living Word outreach here in Mansfield. They help others with food, clothing and for a time even with prescriptions and bills. At that time I was also going to Bible college and working for the city of Arlington as a crew chief. I felt the call to do this full-time, so in January 1991, I quit work and started this incredible journey.
Tell us about how Harvesting International got started.
Our pantry at Living Word Outreach was outgrowing the space we had. So we started the process to merge with a larger ministry from El Paso called White Harvest. Even though the merger didn’t go through, I stayed on with White Harvest at their warehouse on Easy Drive. After a year or so the original directors left and a new director was brought in who stayed for a year to help restructure the ministry. At that point, we changed the name and I was set in place as president and founder of this new ministry, Harvesting International Ministry Center, Inc.
What is the organizational structure of Harvesting International?
We have a small advisory board and two full-time paid staff: Myself and Judy Aderholt, who is my executive assistant. We also have part-time employees when funds allow. Our structure is highly dependent upon a large team of several dozen volunteers who come regularly to serve.
Describe the organization and how things work?
We acquire large quantities of food items, either by purchasing or by getting donations from stores or restaurant chains. When we purchase, we get semi-loads for $2,000 each from Operation Blessing and usually have a variety of items. Different stores will donate near expired or damaged items. We have to go pick up the donations or pay to have them delivered. Trucking is a huge part of our time and overhead costs – we desperately need a new truck and would love to have the funds to hire a driver. After the food is brought to our facility, we have to sort through every item to remove the bad and to repackage or prepare the rest for distribution to the individual families or to other pantries that purchase it for pennies on the pound. It’s those pennies that keep our large coolers and freezers turned on and keep fuel in the truck.
Exactly what kinds of services do you provide and to whom?
Mostly we help with food items: canned, frozen, boxed dry goods, produce, meats, etc. Sometimes we are blessed to get other household items like paper towels, cleaning supplies or hygiene items. As a food pantry, we distribute directly to about 300 local families each month. As a food bank, we supply dozens of other organizations that in turn distribute to those in need. We distribute between 3 and 5 million pounds each year.
Do you work alongside other groups?
In addition to all the smaller local pantries, we also work with Feed the Children, Convoy of Hope and Operation Blessing. As a food bank, we share products with 40-50 ministries and pantries regularly, and some months even more. We would love for businesses and individuals to partner with us. Partnering means you are investing time, talent or treasure on a regular basis. As with all nonprofits, planning and budgeting is a huge challenge without committed donors, whether they are large or small. We welcome the community to come partner with us. Together, we can change lives and make a positive impact.
What’s your favorite part of operating Harvesting International?
Getting to see a family in need get help.
What’s a typical day like for you?
I start every day by rising early and spending at least an hour or more in the Word of God. Then I write a short daily devotional called My Daily Vitamin. Leaving the house by 8:00 a.m., I normally do a few pick-ups on the way into the office. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, we have individual families coming for distribution so I make sure the food is ready for them. We gather the volunteers together and ask the Lord’s blessings before we open. After that, and on the other three days a week, I am either off doing pick-ups or working to get other donations scheduled. I unload the trucks, and get to work on the volumes of required paperwork. I also try hard to make new contacts as well as to keep in touch with ones we currently have. Before leaving, I get the next day’s pick-ups scheduled. I get home around 6:00, sometimes later. Many evenings I spend helping my wife or playing with my grandchildren.
What do you hope to see happen to the organization in the future?
I have many dreams for the ministry. I would love to see the food distribution expand with other locations locally, nationally and even around the world. Additionally, we would like to add all kinds of training and counseling to our menu of services. So many have been hurt, and then without basic inner healing, they end up perpetuating the cycle of hurting others. And far too many people from all kinds of backgrounds have never been taught basic life skills like how to cook or budget their monthly income. We can radically change families by sharing the simple things most of us take for granted.
How can others get involved or assist with Harvesting International?
Honestly, our greatest need is finances. Cash donations are as important as food donations, but they are much harder to come by, especially on a consistent basis. Folks can make tax deductible donations by giving online at www.himcenter.org or by mailing a check to HIM Center, P.O. Box 949,
Mansfield, Texas 76063. We can always use volunteers to sort product, help clean, you name it! Just call the office at 817-453- 3663 to coordinate times.
Who have been some inspirations in your life?
First and foremost is Jesus Christ. Second would be my grandfather Homer “Boy” Scott.Then my spiritual father Gary Whetzel. Additionally, there have been many men and women of God like Graham Cooke and Dena McClure who I learned so much from over the years. Friends like Scott Jones and Dick Bontke have poured into my life. My wife Susan and all my children and grandchildren continue to inspire me.