Friday, October 18, 2013
David Harms, a 1984 Westminster College graduate has earned the 2013 Service and Support Award from Westminster College's Audio Visual Services. Open to all qualifying Westminster College alumni, the award celebrates outstanding service and/or support and is presented annually as the finale to the college's AV Week celebration.
Mr. Harms heads the i58:10 Media Company, which focuses on meeting both the urgent and long term needs of those who are hungry, broken and hurting with creative radio, video, and web marketing. The company uses these modern technologies to expertly share stories directly from the people who need the help of their ministry clients.
The company name, according to their website, is based on the words of Isaiah 58:10, which serves as the underlying motivation for their work: "Feed the hungry and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out of the darkness and the darkness around you will be as bright as day." (NLT) The Wilsonville, Oregon company employs 9 staff currently and is growing. Their radio work raised over four million dollars for causes focused on eliminating hunger and poverty in 2012, and will exceed that mark by several million dollars in 2013.
Dave Harms is founder and President of the company alongside his brother and fellow Westminster alum, Duane ('82), who serves as Creative Director for Video and Sound Design. Their father is Clarence Harms, longtime Director of the Field Station who also served as a Westminster College Biology Professor for 34 years, 23 as Chair.
When asked if his son Dave had any technological affinity, Clarence quickly stated "his childhood was dominated by trucks…… not high tech stuff".
It was not until his older siblings moved out that Dave blossomed into the man of technology and charity seen today. "I have such great memories from my time at Westminster," Harms reflected. "Learning the basics of radio and then working hands on in a small school environment was invaluable experience at an early age which set the course for what I do today." After working in radio broadcasting locally, Dave moved to the national broadcasting scene and has never looked back.
Mr. Harms and his wife Barbara have travelled all over the world for their humanitarian work. Together with his brother Duane they produce short-form videos to highlight the plight of the homeless and underprivileged, encouraging others to reach out and help.
Through World Concern, Dave went to Chad to document the impact of the Darfur Crisis and the genocide inflicted by the Janjaweed, and to Laos to capture stories from a village where the infant mortality rate is 50% and the average household income is $35 per year. He ventured to Nicaragua with Living Water International to capture stories of the impact clean water has on a small community, and to Mumbai through Inda Partners to document and capture stories of child trafficking. Africa New Life Ministries provided passage to Rwanda to look at the hunger crisis among children 20 years after the genocide, and he has also traveled with World Vision and Compassion International over the years to spots all over the globe.
Despite all the travel abroad, a vast majority of their work occurs right here in the US, creating ongoing radio, video and e-marketing for about 20 local rescue missions and periodic work for many others, including the City Rescue Mission in New Castle, PA.
"The core of what we do is storytelling" Harms explained. "There is so much need in the world that we believe that if we can share the stories of what people in need experience it will open up the heart of the listener or viewer and motivate them to want to help. Our motivation comes primarily from Isaiah 58:10 and from Matthew 6:33 which talk about what God's Kingdom looks like when we get a glimpse of it on earth, and then Jesus comments that we are to seek that Kingdom above all else. Those seem like pretty clear ‘marching orders' to those who call themselves Christians, which I do. I'm just trying to live that out as best I can in my life."
Dr. Keith Corso, ('84) Assistant Professor of Communication Studies at Westminster and a classmate of Mr. Harms recollected that Mr. Harms' personal faith has been a source of inspiration to himself and other classmates throughout the years.
"Dave was a ‘radio guy' when I knew him in college and worked with him early in our careers," Corso recalled. "His passion for Christian music led him to that field. However, it's his passion for the less fortunate that I believe has guided him to where he is now. Just as media has changed over the years, Dave has changed with it, embracing video and interactive technologies to communicate the needs of those less fortunate and those whose lives have changed and been transformed."
"Dave Harms embodies service, having provided selfless assistance through his time at Westminster and his humanitarian efforts all over the world," noted Director of AV Services, Gary L. Swanson (‘88). "While our department continually strives to achieve that level of excellence, Dave and the previous winners of this award inspire us to perform service above self through their commitment to the college's mission long after their graduation. The award committee reviews a number of incredibly worthy candidates every year. Choosing one is a challenging task that they take very seriously and I'm especially pleased to learn of the committee's 2013 selection."
Harms reaction upon notification of the award was one of both surprise and sincere gratitude. "I am honored and humbled by the award. Truly. Thank you."
Dave Harms lives near Portland with his wife and five daughters, two of which are adopted Ethiopian orphans who came to their family in August 2011. Youngest to oldest are Tsion (age 6), Reagan (age 8), Lidya (age 9), Elizabeth (age 14) and Emma (age 17).
The Service and Support award is open to all qualifying Westminster alumni and is one of the highlight events of the college's annual AV WEEK celebration. Previous honorees include 2007 winner Mark Slezak ('87), an elementary teacher from Hermitage; 2008's Denny Wolfe ('97), an Emmy Award-winning ESPN producer; 2009 honoree Betsy Nolan Sieg ('07), purchasing manager for Metro Bank; 2010 winner Todd Hervey ('94), award-winning special projects director/editor at Fuel Creative, Inc.; 2011 winner Dr. Dar Huey ('74), professor of education, former director of the college's graduate program, and a defensive coach for some of the finest Titan football teams in Westminster's storied history, and 2012 honoree Jesse R. Ligo, Jr., ('82) M.B.A., C.P.A., and Professor/Chair of Economics and Business at Westminster.
Further details on the award, past winners, and how to nominate someone for the 2014 award are available here. Contact AV at (724) 946-7188, or email avstaff @westminster.edu, for additional information.