Hurricane Maria response update from Puerto Rico

It’s been six months since Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, and many are still struggling to recover. Convoy of Hope has since served more five million meals to survivors across the island — in addition to hygiene products, water filters and other immediate relief supplies. Convoy continues to provide long-term recovery.

Rebuilding Hope

One of the more than 95 locations across Puerto Rico that Convoy has served in response to the hurricane is Villa Esparanza, which means Village of Hope. An estimated 175 homes, roughly 80% of the village, were damaged or destroyed. Currently Convoy is helping rebuild and repair homes around the village.

With the assistance of Convoy’s full time staff, the organization’s first Disaster Community Care Team spent last week helping the village with rebuilding projects and repairs.

For more updates on Convoy’s Hurricane Maria response, click here.

 

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Disaster Services / News

3 ways you can help Convoy of Hope empower women

Last week we saw incredible support for women on International Women’s Day. We at Convoy of Hope believe that when women are given strength and dignity, it not only impacts their families, but their entire communities as well. This is why we empower women each day to make strategic, independent life choices — and we want your help!

Women in developing countries often lack the education, opportunity and confidence to support themselves and their families. With your support, Convoy of Hope can help train women in necessary nutrition, health and everyday skills, and even help them to start their own business.

Here are 3 ways you can help empower women with Convoy of Hope:

1. Spread the word as an advocate

Being an advocate is one of the easiest ways to make an impact! Just by talking about the women who need support and raising awareness for their situation, you are supporting them. This can be as easy as telling a friend about the Women’s Empowerment program over coffee or sharing a woman’s story with a post on Facebook.

2. Throw a party

A Party2Empower is a party with a purpose! Gather your friends and neighbors to learn about some of the women who’s lives were changed through Women’s Empowerment, while enjoying activities themed from their stories. Not only is this a good way to spread the word, but it is a great opportunity to get your friends actively involved in this great cause. Learn more about throwing your own party to empower at convoy.org/women.

3. Donate

Whether its a one-time gift or a monthly commitment, your donation goes to significantly impact a woman’s life. A one-time gift of $25 would sponsor a girl in our Empowered Girls Program — helping her to attend weekly meetings where she would learn about topics like health, hygiene and harmful cultural practices, as well as helping her finish school and pursue job opportunities. A recurring monthly gift of $25 for a year would provide seed capital for a woman to start her own business. You can donate online at convoy.org/donate/IWD.

Learn more about how you can get involved with Convoy’s Women’s Empowerment program at convoy.org/women.

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Join The Convoy / Women's Empowerment

Matilda: Changing her story through Women’s Empowerment

Matilda and her son, Junior, live in the beautiful country of Tanzania. Each morning, Matilda opens up her shop, confidently expecting another successful day of business. But, not too long ago, life looked very different for Matilda and Junior.

Despite working long hours making and selling donuts, oftentimes Matilda would not earn enough income to provide for Junior or herself … forcing both of them to go to bed hungry. Junior watched his mom struggle, and with wisdom beyond his years, he would encourage her that the next day would be better.

After Junior enrolled in a school benefiting from Convoy of Hope’s feeding program, Matilda enrolled in the Women’s Empowerment program. From then on, everything changed!

Now, Matilda sells many different items in her shop! She makes enough money for today and has also learned how to budget to save for the future.

Because of friends like you, women like Matilda — and their children — are receiving opportunities through Convoy of Hope that enable them to live better lives.

Thank you for helping change her story.


Click here to help us empower more women like Matilda.

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Field Story / Women's Empowerment

IDF fills hygiene kits for Convoy of Hope

On Thursday, February 22, associates at International Dehydrated Foods left their offices and came together to create more than 1,000 hygiene kits for Convoy of Hope.

IDF associates lined tables in a conference room and created their own assembly lines to fill bags with hygiene items like soap, toothpaste and washcloths. Their goal was to fill more than 1,000 bags in an hour, but managed to reach their goal in less than 30 minutes.

“We had so much participation,” Erin Danastasio, IDF Corporate Communication Manager said. “I mean almost everybody in the corporate office was able to come down and help out for the little bit. I’m exstatic. I’m so pleased with the outcome.”

The hygiene kits created will go to help disaster survivors in their time of crisis. Having hygiene kits like these ready before disaster strikes, means they can be given to survivors right away.

 
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Join The Convoy / Partner Spotlight / Volunteering

Hope comes to Watts

Just days before Convoy of Hope Los Angeles, very few believed it was actually going to happen. Residents of the Watts community have often been over promised and under delivered and skepticism ran rampant. Though in the face of adversity, hope came to Watts on December 2, 2017.

Hope arrives 

When the reality that this event was — in fact — going to happen hit, hope and excitement filled the community.

“I was driving down the street, on my way to Convoy and these big, monster Convoy of Hope trucks drove right by me,” said Julian Toriz, LA native and Kids Zone Leader for the event. “I’m like ‘oh my goodness!’ Rolling deep, 3 big trucks — boom, boom, boom. I got out my camera. I’m trying to drive and I’m like ‘I got to document this’.”

More than 8,400 Guests of Honor attended the event that day. They received free groceries, shoes, haircuts, and health services. The local team that worked with Convoy of Hope to make the event a reality was amazed at the impact on the community.

Overcoming challenges

The Watts neighborhood of South Central LA is an area of high poverty and crime. The 2010 census revealed that 35.9% of South Central LA live below the poverty line — more than double the U.S. rate of 14.1%. Watts is home to 13 known gangs and four of the largest housing projects in all of LA – all in a two square mile area.

A large step for the Convoy of Hope team in making this event a reality was meeting with and getting the approval of the Watts Gang Task Force to establish a Day of Peace. According to Convoy of Hope Signature Events Director Steve Pulis, not only did this create an opportunity for the community to attend the event without fear of violence, but it established the event as a positive opportunity to help the community.

“When that group came on board and got behind it, we had more than their permission,” Pulis said. “We got the word out among not only gangs, but the entire community – this event is positive, it’s here to help and the gangs are good with it. It has everyone’s support.”

The event took place in Ted Watkins Memorial Park. This is a special place to Convoy of Hope as it was the site of the first Community Event in 1995, only a few years before the park was closed due to violence at a few large park events. The park was closed to large events for 20 years, until the Convoy of Hope event in 2017.

A day of miracles

Convoy of Hope’s Community Events are only possible through the support of volunteers from within the community and its surrounding areas. For most Community Events, the Convoy of Hope team aims to get between 1,200 and 2,000 volunteers. However, by the day of the Watts event there were only 400 volunteers registered and only 303 actually came.

Even with the low volunteer attendance, the event ran smoothly and every Guest of Honor was able to be served.

“It’s a miracle that we didn’t have any issues,” Pulis said. “People can complain anywhere. You can get in too long of a line at the check out of any store and you’re gonna have someone upset. Nothing here.”

Local team member and long-time Watts resident Cornell Ward referenced the biblical story of The Feeding of the 5,000 — in which Jesus feeds 5,000 people with only five loaves of bread and two fish — and said “I know what it feels like.”

Hope continues

Convoy of Hope is grateful for the opportunity to bring some hope to South Central LA, but the work is not done yet. Convoy of Hope has already planned to return to LA for another Community Event on December 1, 2018.

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Community Outreach / Field Story / Volunteering

Drivers with loads of hope

Convoy of Hope would be lost without its amazing team of drivers. You can’t have a convoy without anyone to drive it! Each day, our drivers are crossing the country with trucks full of disaster relief supplies, groceries, shoes and most of all — hope.

The drivers help us transport supplies for Community Events, Rural Compassion distributions and disaster responses (including last year’s Hurricanes Harvey and Irma responses). In 2017, they drove more than 414,000 miles for Convoy of Hope.

“These are some phenomenal people,” Convoy staff member, Debbie Gilleylen says. “You know how you always have people backstage getting the work done? These are those people.”

The majority of Convoy drivers are retired and drive for Convoy as volunteers. When we asked some of the drivers what their favorite part of driving for Convoy of Hope is, the answers were synonymous — the people we serve.

“My favorite is when you go and actually get to a place — the joy of the people that are there,” Driver, Richard Wilson, says. “It’s just a blessing to be a part of bringing them something they’re really anxious to receive and to be a part of what they’re doing in the community.”

Convoy of Hope honored its team of drivers and their spouses on Tuesday, January 30, with a lunch and celebration.

“We have a fantastic driving team and a lot of people don’t get to see each other but maybe once a year,” Transportation Director, Mike Coble says. “So, this is that one time a year that we get all the drivers in, as many of the spouses as we can and we get to show our appreciation to them and thank them for their sacrifice and all the hard work they’ve done.”

If you’re interested in joining our volunteer driving team, you can learn more at convoyofhope.org/drivingteam.

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Staff Spotlight / Volunteering