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Connections key to helping orphans

| Monday, Oct. 24, 2005

When you've been in business for 50 years, you develop some connections.

Bill Harvanek counts on those connections every year when he puts out the call for donations to help orphans in the Dominican Republic.

Harvanek, 72, owns Oakmont Truck Rental and is active in the Verona/Oakmont Rotary. He called on his fellow business people last week to once again fill a truck with food, clothes and medical supplies bound for the Caribbean.

"I guess when I call, they just say, 'Give him whatever he wants," Harvanek said, marveling at the generosity of those who donate to the project.

While he couldn't figure the value of the truck packed with goods, he said the medical supplies alone were worth more than $6,000.

This is the fifth year Harvanek has collected the donations, which go to support the Armando Rosenberg Home and School in Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic. The 140 children who live at the orphanage come from one of the poorest barrios in the city.

Harvanek, who lives in South Buffalo Township with his companion, Dee Wise, helped bring a 7-year-old deaf Dominican girl to Pittsburgh four years ago so she could have surgery to restore her hearing.

The couple has made three trips to Santo Domingo to visit the children.

"They just appreciate our help so much," he said. Additional Information:

Bill Harvanek

Hometown: The Boggsville section of South Buffalo

Age: 73

Family: Sons, Mark and Bill; daughter, Darlene

Favorite thing about the Valley: 'The people here are down-to-earth. You have a large, common-sense working class. You don't have that everywhere.'

Motto for the Valley: 'It's a hard-working and conservative area.'

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