Ed Stowe, ′60, drives cars to people in need

Ed Stowe, EE ’60, of Vermont retired from IBM and hit the road – literally. He volunteers at Good News Garage, an organization that repairs donated cars in order to provide low–income individuals and families with transportation. Good News Garage is a program of Lutheran Social Services. To date, the organization has matched more than 4,000 cars throughout New England since 1996.

“I have been volunteering there since it started 16 years ago,” Ed said. “I’ve done everything except the mechanics. Transportation is a big need in Vermont, especially the rural areas.”

Ed said he was approached by a friend at a backyard cookout. His friend said he had an idea to get this thing started. Ed had some free time and committed to one year, three days a week.

“He gave me a stack of yellow telephone memo slips and said he’d had a lot of people call, wanting to donate cars,” Ed recalled. “So, that’s how I got started.”

He’s driven cars in local parades to share “the good news.” In a Montpelier parade, he drove a bright yellow 1936 Chevy pick–up truck.

In January, Ed got a phone call from an attorney in Atlanta who had a 1967 Ford Mustang to donate, but he needed someone to pick it up. Ed flew to Atlanta and met the guy at his house. It turns out the car was purchased by his father, but the donor didn’t have time to put into the car anymore. He wanted to make sure it would for a good purpose.

“I got in the car and started driving north,” Ed said. “Two and a half days later, I got there. There were no problems with the car. ... He’d been doing all this work on the car. He didn’t tell me, though, that he took out the heater. Driving to Vermont into January – it was cold. I got to New York City and was about to freeze. When I got home my legs were frozen stiff.”

Some cars, Ed said, are sold at auction rather than donated to families. The generated income helps to purchase other cars.

“I’ve really had a lot of fun doing that. It satisfies a need I have, helping people who haven’t been quite as fortunate as I’ve been,” Ed said.

Amy Bragagnini, ′98, overcomes challenge, helps others

She overcame an eating disorder that could have consumed her.

Amy Bragagnini, a 1998 biology graduate, left campus not knowing what her future would hold. Little did she know that she would tackle her challenges head–on, become a nutrition expert for Old Orchard Juice and work one–on–one with cancer patients to help them during life′s most trying moments.

Amy came to Tri–State from Schoolcraft, Mich., on a basketball scholarship. Her transition to college was difficult. As an expert, she can now say with certainty that eating disorders often take root during major transitions in life. She described herself as a "Type A personality" with a problem that left her "thin and weak" during basketball season.

"The main thing that kept me at Tri–State was basketball, especially my teammates. We′re still friends today," Amy said. "It was a big struggle for me. It was hard to be a post player and try to play down low when I was not nearly as strong as the other girls. Staying on was the best decision I made. Playing basketball in college taught me discipline, hard work and teamwork. In the work I do today – being on a team was the best education I could have had."

She said the discipline she learned over her four years helped her win the battle. "I have fought tooth and fork to move forward," Amy said with a laugh.

After graduation, Bragagnini spent two years at Western Michigan University, took an internship at Central Michigan University and became a registered dietitian in 2001. After earning her master′s degree, she became a certified specialist in oncology.

"Here in the cancer center, patients might have the best medical oncologist, but if they become malnourished, I′m here to help them. Some people become so emotionally distraught that they don′t even want to eat," Amy said. "We work to support the patient at all ends – as a team – with social workers, doctors, nurses and more."

When she′s not in the oncology unit at Lacks, she works as a nutrition expert for Old Orchard Juice, where she′s been since 2007. She′s taking her nutrition knowledge to the airwaves and social media.

"It′s been fantastically fun. While I love my job during the day, it′s fun to step outside the oncology world and answer questions such as ′How do I feed my kid vegetables?′"

At home, she spends time with her dog Maggie (black and white spotted princess) and entertains friends. And don′t worry – it′s more than just fruits and vegetables on the dinner table.

"I′m off the clock. I′m not the food police," said Amy, obviously smiling over the phone lines. "I thought an eating disorder would be part of my life forever, but my perspective has changed. Thank God for the support of my family and friends."

Matt Taylor, ′03, and wife Amanda, ′03, serve orphans in Hungary

When Matt Taylor graduated from Tri-State in 2003, he took with him a diploma and a faith that had finally become his own. The electrical engineering grad and his wife, alumna Amanda (Hyde) Taylor, ′03 CADD, returned in July from mission work in Hungary, giving orphans a chance to have some summer fun. The experience, he said, has its roots on campus.

The son of an associate pastor and music director, Matt is no stranger to ministry.

“I was kind of sheltered,” Matt said. “That’s what was neat about going to Trine – I found God on my own. It was my first time away from my parents, and I had a lot of choices.”

At first, Matt said he didn’t want to get involved in Christian Campus House, CCH for short. He felt like he was an adult and could do what he wanted in life. But, later, he realized something was missing. After a short time he got involved in CCH and at a local church. He developed lifelong relationships with other men and CCH director Travis Wilhelm. Actually, Travis married Matt and Amanda.

The two went on to adopt twin boys, now aged 3 1/2, and he said their Indianapolis home is always “eventful.”

On “Adoption Sunday,” the man who started Hungarian American Fellowship came to the Taylors’ church, Hope’s Point Baptist Church. With their hearts in the right place, before they knew it, in November 2011, they committed to going to Hungary. In February, they started fundraising and sent letters “to anybody we knew”. He said their largest donor was a Trine alum couple.

“When they gave us the check,” Matt said, “I started crying.”

The Taylors spent one week at a camp for Hungarian orphans. He explained that the majority of children leave the orphanage when they’re 18. They don’t have the same level of education as other children and don’t earn college degrees. Without parental support or an adequate education a high percentage fall into prostitution and drugs.

“That’s where all their friends went when they left the orphanage, just to try and make a living,” Matt said. “So, we gave them our love and attention during the week and shared the message of Jesus Christ. By the end of the week a lot of the kids openly accepted Jesus as their Savior. We continued to get closer with the children and we knew before the end of the week that one trip was not enough.  Our goal was not to say, ‘Welcome to Christianity, goodbye and good luck.’ We have the desire to more which is why we’re trying to go back and mentor them as well.”

The Taylors hope to return to Hungary in December to see the children, again. They would also like to get into a rotation and travel to Hungary every summer as well to continue these camps.

“Amanda and I can’t get back soon enough,” Matt said, adding that the trip dramatically changed his perspective on life. “These kids opened up to us after being with them one day. They all wanted high fives and hugs. The kids aren’t extremely poor but they don’t have anybody that wants them. They’re trapped in an orphanage and their family members won’t sign them over so they can be adopted. Some feel like there’s no hope.”

For more information about Matt and his family’s journey of faith, e-mail him at mstaylor727@gmail.com or check out their blog page at taylorshungarianmission.blogspot.com/.