Lawrenceville's Samuel Dean gives back
by Cal Schupner
“Never sleep in the back of an unlocked car!” That was the sage advice given to Samuel Dean by a would-be carjacker.
Samuel is a disabled native of Liberia who is currently living in Lawrenceville but due to a series of unfortunate circumstances he was unable to pay his rent. Consequently, he ended up living in the back of his van.
Left: Rev. Russell Gray with Samuel Dean
Late one night Samuel was awakened from a sound sleep by someone in the driver’s seat who was trying to start the van. Samuel shouted at the intruder. Fortunately it was not a violent confrontation, and the man actually apologized. He didn’t know the vehicle was occupied, and as he left he gave Samuel the warning about sleeping in unlocked cars.
Concerned for his own safety, Samuel went to the local jail and asked if they would allow him to sleep in his van in the jail’s parking lot. Permission was kindly granted by the Desk Sergeant; who after hearing Samuel’s sad tale called a local pastor who regularly assists homeless inmates getting out of jail needing help.
And that’s how Samuel met Rev. Russell Gray of Bridge the Gap Ministries’ jail ministry team. They eventually helped Samuel get back on his feet (no pun intended) and settled in an apartment with a new roommate, see http://www.bridgethegapministries.org/reentry/reentry-stories/.
Samuel was so grateful for all the help that he received that he decided to rededicate his life to “giving back” to society. Therefore he was motivated to reapply for his 501 © 3 status for Florence A. Tolbert & the Disabled Advocates Inc, so named in honor of his maternal grandmother. FATDA Inc., www.fatda.org, has been registered as a not-for-profit organization with the Secretary of State since 2007. FATDA’s purpose is “to advance public awareness on the plight of persons with disabilities and to create avenues for them to excel.” One of their achievements has been the distribution of over 3,000 pieces of assistive devices (1,500 wheelchairs, quad canes, walkers, portable commodes, crutches, eye glasses, and various pieces of medical equipment) to ten different counties in Liberia.
FATDA Inc works closely with, and receives a lot of support from, FODAC, Friends of Disabled Adults and Children) which provides refurbished equipment and services for disabled adults and children at little or no cost.
PET (Personal Energy Transportation) International, aka PI, is a faith-based, non-profit organization that manufactures and supplies hand powered, big wheel tricycles, or “pets” (as their owners lovingly refer to them), at no cost to people in developing countries who have lost the use of their legs. PET Carts can traverse rugged terrain that is impossible for ordinary wheelchairs to go. As you can see the PET Cart, shown below, looks very simple to operate and maintain. It is driven by a rugged bicycle chain and uses wooden slats for body construction. It was designed this way so it can be repaired by the owners without expensive replacement parts. Furthermore, except for the metal frame and tires, the carts are fabricated entirely by mostly retired volunteers, wanting to do something useful with their hands in an environment of local camaraderie, often found in churches, posts, and lodges. Samuel would like to especially thank 12Stone Church’s Friday Morning Mens Groups and Salem Missionary Baptist Church, as well as PET International Inc for their support in helping him take this “step of faith”, which is still very much a work in progress.
To see a PET Cart in action click https://www.gofundme.com/petcarts. As you can see in the video, the little girl, Priya, quickly learns how to operate her PET Cart. Later she was seen happily joining her friends at school on more of an equal footing, so to speak.
PET Carts are now located around the world in 100 countries. Due to difficulties with governmental red tape and lack of a local sponsor; Liberia has not been open to PET Carts. That has all changed since FATDA Inc. and PET International Inc have joined forces to ship 30 PET Carts to Liberia. As you are reading this article Samuel is flying to Monrovia, Liberia, to receive the shipment and distribute the Pet Carts where they are needed the most, in villages out in the country. This will involve his needing to stay actively engaged there for about a month traveling from village to village. For more information on how you can help; please contact Samuel by email at, firstname.lastname@example.org, or call Rev. Russell Gray at 404 906 2681.