Browsing Category: 25 Stories That Shaped Convoy of Hope

Beyond the Meal: Convoy of Hope’s Agriculture Program

Convoy of Hope has been feeding families for 25 years, but our mission has never just been about filling stomachs — it’s about transforming communities. When we started our Children’s Feeding program, we knew it couldn’t stop there. We wanted to move beyond the meal, towards sustainability. That’s how our Agriculture program began. 

Dr. Jason Streubel, affectionately known as Dr. Dirt, joined our team in 2011and began transforming the way we looked at agriculture in our international work.

“Agriculture touches every aspect of existence,” Jason says.

What started as one farmer in Haiti with a garden behind his house has now transformed into a co-op with hundreds of farmers, an agriculture education in schools, and a training program that helps pastors pass on agricultural skills to their congregations. 

“Agriculture helps us tap into families as a whole,” says Convoy of Hope’s Senior Director of International Program Partner Relations Kevin Rose. 

Now we have a whole team of agriculture experts working to develop new and lasting ways to break the cycle of poverty in communities around the world. Since our Agriculture program’s implementation, more than 23,000 people have received some form of formal agriculture education through Convoy of Hope in eight countries.

As our program expands, it is interacting with several of our other initiatives. After Cyclone Idai decimated parts of southeast Africa, thousands of families found their homes and their crops destroyed. While our team distributed relief supplies to meet immediate needs, one of our International Disaster Services staff members and agriculture experts, Chris Groh, distributed fast-growing corn seed. This helped families to quickly get back on their feet after the disaster. 

Our Agriculture efforts have also found their way stateside in conjunction with our Community Events. Not only do we hand out gardens-in-a-bag at our events — which offers working families seeds and instructions to create a home garden — but our team is working with partners in Flint, Michigan, to build community gardens. 

Food security is crucial for families around the world. When we help communities increase their food security, it transforms the lives of countless people, lifting them out of dependency. You can learn more about our Agriculture program at convoyofhope.org/ag.

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25 Stories That Shaped Convoy of Hope / Agriculture

International Day of the Girl – Empowering girls with Convoy of Hope

Melanie,* like many other 13-year-old Nicaraguan girls, wrestles with personal identity in an ocean of images and voices telling her who she “should” be. When she learned that a Convoy of Hope program to empower girls was not only coming to her school but that she was personally being invited to participate, she couldn’t contain her excitement.

Melanie wasn’t simply seeking to feel better about herself. She wanted to flourish. And that’s exactly what she experienced through loving leaders and courageous peers in the program. Over a series of weeks, she found herself exchanging insecurity for confidence and timidity for boldness. Like so many, Melanie is moving from survivability to sustainability! 

As we celebrate International Day of the Girl, Convoy of Hope is proud to join other organizations and groups around the world in empowering girls to realize their value. International Day of the Girl seeks to educate the public on the hardships girls face around the world every day — issues like child marriage, unplanned pregnancy, education inequality, gender-based violence, lack of self-esteem, and personal hygiene. 

Our program to empower girls began in 2010 with a single after-school club at a secondary school in Tanzania where girls were dropping out of school due to pregnancy. Key stakeholders from the community were invited to share their thoughts regarding a range of topics through educational seminars and interactive discussions. 

Since that first group, the program has expanded and evolved. We have established programs in five countries: Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Kenya, and the Philippines. Each country has curriculum specific to the needs and issues pertaining to girls in their programs. Sessions can include culturally contextual appropriate topics around self-esteem, gender-based violence, and harmful cultural beliefs and practices. 

Regardless of location, our program provides them with tools and resources to set goals and achieve dreams. We teach these young women that they can have a future where finishing school, going to a university, and starting a career are possibilities, regardless of their circumstances. 

Over the past 25 years, Convoy of Hope has been dedicated to not only feeding the world, but helping individuals and communities thrive. Today, and every day, let’s celebrate girls and empower them to see their dreams become a reality. 

You can learn more about how Convoy is empowering girls at convoyofhope.org/we.

 

 

*Name has been changed.

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25 Stories That Shaped Convoy of Hope / Women's Empowerment

Going the distance to bring hope

Driving for Convoy of Hope is more than just driving a truck on the highway. When a tractor-trailer leaves the Convoy of Hope World Distribution Center, lives are changed. 

Convoy of Hope’s driving team is made up of an exceptional, well-experienced group of people who are dedicated to changing the world, one mile at a time. We have several drivers who have individually driven more than 3 million miles and a couple who have hit the 4 million mile mark. In 2018, the transportation team drove more than 500,000 miles around the country. Semitrailers filled with supplies delivered food, water, hygiene kits, baby items, disaster relief supplies, and more to communities in need. 

“Convoy of Hope’s transportation team involves moving millions of pounds of supplies quickly and efficiently,” says Mike Coble, Convoy of Hope’s Transportation Safety and Compliance Manager. “The driving team is a critical part of making this happen. Accomplishing this takes skill and dedication, but it also takes a heart to serve people in need. That is the reason why we drive.” 

At any given moment, Convoy of Hope drivers are all over the United States representing the organization and supporting the work we do. We might have a driver at a park in Chicago helping prepare for a Community Event, another in the Appalachian mountains supporting our Rural Compassion initiative, and yet another in Florida providing disaster relief supplies after a hurricane. People frequently wait in anticipation for our drivers to arrive, because they know our trucks carry the resources they need to survive. 

A Convoy of Hope driver could be a former farmer, fireman, veteran, school teacher, career truck driver, business owner, or even a minister. Regardless of their professional background, our drivers have all gone through formal training and met a list of requirements. The forty member driving team — made up primarily of volunteers — helps us deliver hope around the country. 

In honor of National Truck Driver Appreciation Week, we want to thank our drivers for the many miles they spend on the road each year delivering hope!

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25 Stories That Shaped Convoy of Hope / Volunteering

A Nation in Mourning: Convoy of Hope’s 9/11 Response

When the first plane flew into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, time seemed to stop. We as a nation held our breath at the horror of what we were witnessing. 

What followed was days, weeks, and months of confusion and heartache as we in the United States figured out how to move forward. People from across the world stepped up to help, and Convoy of Hope was no exception. 

At the time, Convoy of Hope’s Disaster Services team was brand new. We’d responded to a few smaller hurricanes, but nothing with the impact we saw after the September 11 attacks. Regardless, Convoy of Hope’s first truckload of relief supplies left the World Distribution Center for the East Coast within 24 hours of the attack. 

When we arrived, we found a city in shock. 

“There were probably three weeks where you could hear a pin drop in New York City,” former Convoy of Hope employee Mike Ennis said. “I’ve never seen the city that way before or since.”

Our immediate response focused on assisting emergency workers at Ground Zero and the Pentagon. In New York, Convoy of Hope assisted a Staten Island respite center that supported more than 400 firefighters, rescue workers, and national guardsmen for four months. We also provided hot meals, supplies, shower facilities, and beds for those working long shifts at Ground Zero. It was a haven of peace, order, and love for the men and women facing indescribable scenes day after day. 

In the long term, we partnered with several key groups in New York to plan what we called “Encouragement Events” — both large and small gatherings that focused on rescue workers and families who lost loved ones. We also wanted to bring hope to the average New Yorker still struggling with what happened but wouldn’t be included on an official list of “victims.” The need for massive counseling and peer support systems was very clear. 

Thankfully, because of the connections we made during that chaotic time, we’ve been able to serve the New York area in many ways, which includes our response after Superstorm Sandy and through Hope Days

September 11 was a defining moment in Convoy’s 25 years that has shaped us into the organization we are today. That dark time taught us that — even in the worst of times — hope, compassion, and kindness can still make all the difference. 

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25 Stories That Shaped Convoy of Hope / Disaster Services

How Hurricane Katrina Changed Everything

When Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Louisiana coast and decimated everything in its path, everything changed. For our nation, seldom before had we seen such devastation — streets became rivers, homes were washed away, and more than 1,000 people lost their lives. The way groups responded to disasters changed everywhere, too, and that included Convoy of Hope.

As Katrina gained intensity in the Gulf of Mexico, it was clear the storm would be bad. But no one expected the wide-reaching damage Katrina would inflict. The morning after the hurricane made landfall, Convoy of Hope employees arrived at headquarters to find every phone ringing off their hooks. Convoy was a much smaller organization in 2005, with a staff of only 50 people. It was clear that this response was an “all-hands on deck” situation. 

Family and friends of staff members arrived to help, and phone banks were set up on folding tables in every available space. Volunteers answered phone calls all day, every day, for weeks. Calls came in from volunteers, donors, people needing help, churches asking for assistance, and even those in search of lost relatives.The answering machine crashed immediately, leading us to take messages on paper and run them around the building to the right person.

Staff from across departments were deployed to Mississippi and Louisiana to assist our two-person Disaster Services team. Before this time, we had never had more than one point of distribution (POD) running at a time. Now, we had several scattered throughout Louisiana and Mississippi.

This response changed Convoy of Hope in fundamental ways. Systematically, Convoy of Hope was recreated. Longtime Convoy staff member Randy Rich reflected on a time during the response when the team took a moment from the hustle and bustle. “We sat down and reinvented Convoy on a whiteboard,” he said. “The team updated processes for disaster response and developed additional roles that new staff or volunteers would fill.”

As our disaster response team grew, so did our ability to help others. Our response to Hurricane Katrina lasted for two years. Nearly 1,000 truckloads of relief supplies were delivered and distributed to families in need. For the next four years, we held Community Events across the Gulf Coast, specifically helping areas affected by Katrina. 

In our 25 years of existence, Convoy of Hope has responded to more than 400 disasters around the world. The people we met and the lessons we learned during Katrina redefined the way we would respond to disasters from then on. But the one thing that has never changed is the incredible importance of kindness and support from people like you. We couldn’t have served so many without the thousands of phone calls, mass amounts of volunteers, and incredible donors that saw those in need and offered their help.

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25 Stories That Shaped Convoy of Hope / Disaster Services / Program Updates / Volunteering