In 2016, we saw firsthand that kindness does change everything!
Thanks to you — our loyal friends and generous corporate and ministry partners — we served a record number of people in 2016. We also saw more donated product come in and be distributed through our supply chain than ever before. There were other significant milestones too — including more than 80 million people served since we were founded in 1994.
All of these accomplishments can be traced back to your trust, kindness and partnership.
As a child, my family relied on the kindness of friends and strangers. I can recall days when our shoes had gaping holes in the soles and our cupboards were bare. But what I remember even more were the days when someone would come by with a bag of groceries or a new pair of shoes — just in the nick of time.
I also remember taking part in a program that enabled children, from families like mine, to attend a San Francisco 49ers game. Fast forward 40 some years. Last December, we partnered with the 49ers and their players at Levi’s Stadium to bring much-needed provisions and hope to impoverished families.
As you can see, Convoy of Hope has been — and will continue to be — on the frontlines charging into disparity, hunger, poverty and suffering with the light of kindness, help and hope.
We believe that with your partnership, when the world is the darkest, we can all shine the brightest. Thank you for the trust, financial support, prayers, partnership and for being determined to transform our world with kindness.
Dean Stack is one of the 47,000 unsung heroes — volunteers — helping Convoy of Hope bring hope to those who are hungry, impoverished and in need. As a lead volunteer for Hands of Hope, he works at our World Distribution Center every Tuesday night to support our work around the world. Following is a conversation with Dean.
What do you do for Convoy of Hope?
I’m a lead volunteer here with Hands of Hope. I help coordinate volunteers and operate a forklift.
How long have you been volunteering?
I started volunteering when I heard Convoy was helping with the Joplin tornado in 2011. By 2012, I had become a lead volunteer.
Why do you volunteer?
I just like helping, and this is an easy way to help. When I hear about what Convoy does all around the world and how I can help with the projects they do, it keeps me going and keeps me wanting to come back.
What’s the most rewarding part?
I love hearing about the end result; knowing I played a part, and that my work is benefiting someone, somewhere.
What would you say to someone thinking of volunteering?
You’ve got to do it. Once you do it, you’re going to love it.
From time to time I have the opportunity to speak to our staff about volunteers. Every chance I get, I jokingly tell the team I have the best job in the organization because I get to work with volunteers — the people who choose to be here. I get a little chuckle from the team, but the part about me having the best job in the organization is no joke.
Day in and day out, I get to work with people who selflessly give of their time and talents. It’s not about a volunteer just doing something that needs to be done. It’s about people being on the front lines of the ministry by working in the field, teaching others how to start their own businesses and grow their own food, answering our phones, and raising awareness about Convoy of Hope.
We have many types of partners, but one of the most important is our volunteer group. They step out of their comfort zone to help make the world a better place. These men and women aren’t afraid to go to a region of the world they know little about to help someone during their time of need. They come into our office every single week and assist with projects our staff couldn’t begin to do on their own. It would be virtually impossible to do the work we are blessed to do without the thousands of volunteers we engage every year.
It’s safe to say every single day I receive a call or email from a person wanting to be a volunteer at Convoy of Hope. The number of wonderful people in this world so willing to give is never lost on me. The compassion and love our volunteers have for people they don’t know is one of the most beautiful things I’ve witnessed. It’s a selflessness, which takes them outside of their own needs or desires to help someone else.
This is my job — getting to talk with, work with, and fellowship with some of the most amazing people in the world. They are the ones who make it possible for Convoy of Hope to do what we do. These people — our Convoy of Hope volunteers — are really the unsung heroes.
Ambassador Tony Hall serves as Convoy of Hope’s Special Advisor on Hunger. He recently discussed the Africa Hunger Crisis that could soon become a famine in many parts of East Africa. With tens of millions of lives at stake, Ambassador Hall believes time is of the essence and every citizen in the United States can play a significant role in combating the crisis.
Convoy: Reports suggest that many countries in East Africa are on the brink of mass famine, so why should friends of Convoy of Hope be concerned?
Ambassador Hall: Today in areas threatened by famine, people are at risk of dying from starvation at a rate that rivals that of World War II. We need to pay attention and intervene in this crisis because we can play a part in saving the lives of children and families. Convoy of Hope knows what to do and is already on the ground helping those in need.
Convoy: Six years ago, more than 260,000 people died in Africa because of famine. With the region on the brink of famine once again, why is the media not reporting on the crisis?
Ambassador Hall: There are so many things going on throughout the world from the refugee crisis in the Middle East and Europe, to threats from North Korea, to terrorist attacks on civilians in major cities throughout the world that the hunger crisis in Africa is being overlooked. It’s our moral duty to make the crisis in East Africa a story that we not only advocate for, but one that we intervene in and take action to correct.
Convoy: Food insecurity, famine and lack of proper nutrition take a severe toll on all who are caught up in it. Describe what those scourges look like on the ground.
Ambassador Hall: The first 1,000 days of a child’s life from conception to age 2 are crucial days that dictate the child’s quality of life. When children do not get proper nutrition and care during those first days they suffer stunted growth, impaired brain development, and their immune systems are so weakened that they become more prone to diseases that can take their lives. This is not acceptable and it can be corrected with proper nutrition. There is enough food for everyone, we just need to get it to those in need.
Convoy: If we end hunger, we wipe out many other factors that kill people too?
Ambassador Hall: Twenty-one thousand people die every day. This is absolutely senseless. When you compound the impact diseases can have on a person’s life with a hunger crisis or famine and the results are devastating to millions and millions of people. We have to take a stand against hunger and do everything within our means to combat it.
Convoy: Besides supporting Convoy of Hope’s work on the ground in East Africa, what else can our friends do to combat the hunger crisis and impending famine?
Ambassador Hall: There are several things every American can do! First, start advocating by alerting and educating your children, family, friends and neighbors. Use your influence on social media to bring awareness to the problem. We also need to reach out our elected officials and let them know that the crisis in East Africa is one that the United States needs to be actively involved in combating.
Convoy: You’ve said taking on this crisis and working toward ending it is a moral duty. Can you elaborate on that?
Ambassador Hall: The Gospels talk of Jesus imploring us to help the least of these. That was as true then as it is today. We have a moral responsibility to help those who are hungry and suffering. I am thankful that Convoy of Hope is actively working to end both. In doing so, we are not only helping those in need — we are stopping the spread of ISIS and other terrorists who are actively recruiting hungry and hurting people. If we don’t feed the hungry and help those who are hurting, ISIS and others of their ilk will. The fact is, hunger is a security issue and we cannot stand by.
Convoy: Anything else you’d like add?
Ambassador Hall: The burden is on all of us to bring awareness to this crisis and to be actively involved in combating it. Twenty-one million people are facing starvation. Let’s help Convoy of Hope help them.