Browsing Category: Community Outreach

World Kindness Day: Make Kindness the Norm

As we celebrate World Kindness Day, those of us at Convoy of Hope want all of our supporters to remember that the acts of kindness they show every day, no matter how small, make an enormous difference. 

Convoy of Hope recently partnered with the O’Reilly Center for Hope in Springfield, Missouri, to show kindness at their annual Hope Connection event. Hope Connection is a staple for local nonprofits, who join together to provide services to the local homeless population. Like most big gatherings, the format for Hope Connection had to change in big ways during 2020. Instead of meeting on one day in a convention center, the event took place over the course of three separate days to abide by social distancing guidelines and to keep large crowds from gathering. 

During those three days, Convoy of Hope distributed the following to the local homeless population:

  • 300 sets of groceries
  • 600 Theraworx hygiene wipes
  • 3,000 Bombas socks
  • 100 hygiene kits
  • 100 Luminaid lanterns

Bryan came to Hope Connection as part of his restart on life. “I was in prison, got out in January, but lost my job because of COVID-19. I’ve been homeless for a while.”

Thankfully, the resources he’s received through the O’Reilly Center for Hope, which included food and supplies through Convoy of Hope, are setting him up for success. “I thought [the lantern] was really interesting. I’ll find a good use for it.”

People need kindness shown to them now more than ever, and we’re honored to partner with people and organizations who are truly making a difference in their communities.

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Community Outreach

Cleveland Volunteer Transforms Life and Community

Cliff Watson knows what it’s like to feel overwhelmed and forgotten. This is why, as the administrative pastor at Providence Baptist Church, he recently helped Convoy of Hope hold Community Events in and around Cleveland, Ohio. Cliff is doing everything he can to help those in his hometown who also resonate with feelings of rejection. 

Cliff’s early life was filled with strife and trauma. “At 12 or 13 years old, I started selling drugs and kind of got into the whole life of the drug world. I just kind of began to live that life for a while,” he says. “I dropped out of high school. My daughter was born when I was 17 years old. People were saying I wouldn’t live to be 20.”

Thankfully, Cliff admitted himself into a local program that helped him to earn his GED, deal with his legal troubles, and get a job. It also inspired him to help others who are living through the same struggles he once did.

Originally, the Convoy of Hope Community Event was designed to be a larger gathering at Luke Easter Park. Once the pandemic became a concern, the event turned into a drive-thru point of distribution (POD). After the city expressed unease about the event taking place at the park, it was redirected to the two campuses of Providence Baptist Church: one in Euclid and one in Cleveland.

An hour before the event, people were already lined up and ready to go through the POD drive-thru. Police officers helped to direct traffic and serve Guests of Honor. In total, the event provided more than 5,000 bags of groceries to those in need.

“That’s why I’m partnered with Convoy of Hope in the first place; it really fits into the bigger picture of community transformation,” Cliff explained. “Before a shovel is ever lifted, before any money and all of those things are distributed, and before a project is even talked about, we just want you to know … that we love you, there is hope, and we can show you that there is hope by bringing hope in on a truck.”

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Community Outreach

A Mother’s Story: Hope and smiles came to Emma’s family

On an unseasonably cool day in June, Emma entered a local rodeo arena with her sons Anthony and Gabriel, unsure of what she’d find. They weren’t there to see broncos or bull riders; Emma had heard about an event that could help her overcome the struggles she and her family were facing.

Month after month, the bills would come due. Sometimes she and her husband could make it, but other times they found themselves at a local food bank. Their lives had changed dramatically when they had Anthony. Anthony, who has special needs and is in a wheelchair, has to regularly visit a special doctor whose office is two hours away. Every drive costs the family what few resources they have.

“We can’t do anything else,” says Emma. “For instance, I need to build the access ramp for him [Anthony]. But I can’t do it.”

For those like Emma living in vulnerable communities, life can spiral out of control quickly through no fault of their own. The cushion to absorb unexpected costs is thin at best. Because of that, even small wins can become life-changing experiences. 

For the past 25 years, Convoy of Hope and an army of volunteers has been serving across the United States, and now around the world, through Community Events. These events provide critical services that are often unreachable when money is tight. 

“We bring together churches, service providers, and people from all over the community,” says Convoy of Hope’s Jason Bachman, who led the event that Emma and her family attended. “It creates a platform for existing organizations, who sometimes aren’t even aware of each other, to come together and serve. These events create opportunities for the novice and the expert to come together to serve their cities.”

When Emma and her kids entered the grounds, volunteer greeters welcomed them to each tent. Gabriel bumped along in his stroller as Anthony hurried to grab a new pair of shoes at the Children’s Shoes tent. A volunteer helped him get fitted, and he proudly held up his new sneakers after pulling out the crumpled paper stuffed in the toes. These were new shoes. His shoes. 

Anthony impatiently zipped toward the Kids Zone. He drove his wheelchair to the sloped entrance of a bouncy castle where he was met by a volunteer who obviously didn’t know who she was dealing with. Not to be slowed down, Anthony thrust his body forward. He landed on his hands and knees and stormed the castle. His face exuded pure joy as he jumped around that inflatable castle just like the other kids. With his body in midair, Anthony smiled and shouted for his mom. Emma smiled like any parent, thrilled to see her child so happy.

“Poverty is stressful,” says Bachman. “And I think that our Community Events give people a break from that. On that day, people can let go of their problems, even if it’s just for a couple of hours.”

As Emma and her family walked the grounds, the Health Services tent caught her eye. She noticed representatives from Anthony’s children’s hospital, so she stopped to talk with them. Taking as much time as her kids would allow, she began to craft a plan with the hospital.

Weeks after the event, we caught up with Emma to see how she and her family were doing. As she shared her progress over the phone, pots and pans rattled in the background as she prepared lunch for the kids. “Since the event we’ve been doing good,” she says. “Visiting the [children’s] hospital really helped.” The arrangements she made with the hospital at the Community Event had already saved them hours of driving and extra travel expenses. That connection likely wouldn’t have been made without the Community Event and the volunteers who made it happen … together.

 

*This story originally appeared in issue 15 of the Hope Quarterly which can be read here

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Community Outreach / Field Story

Long-Term Hope: Convoy of Hope Community Event Connections

What started with one pick-up truck filled with groceries and a desire to serve families in need has transformed into hundreds of Convoy of Hope Community Events that have taken place across the nation. 

Over the past 25 years, Convoy of Hope has served more than 2 million Guests of Honor at more than 1,200 Community Events. Guests of Honor have their immediate needs met with bags of groceries or a new pair of shoes, but we don’t stop there. We also provide them with long-term solutions that can help them thrive. We do that by connecting them to job and career services, community services, health services, veterans services, or other organizations, such as the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

The desired outcome for each event is to provide sustainable solutions that help address the deeper-rooted issues and concerns in a community. Our “one-stop shop” connects them with the opportunities they need to help them get to the next step and see the possibilities they couldn’t before. 

We like to say Guests of Honor receive a “hand up,” not a handout, at a Community Event. 

Take Tomasa. She attended a Community Event we held in Fort Worth in 2017 and picked up a Garden in a Bag, which contained vegetable and flower seeds. She planted the seeds and now has a flourishing garden that takes over part of her backyard. Tomasa came back to the Fort Worth Community Event in 2019 to get more seeds and to see how she could start a community garden in her neighborhood.

Or take Darcy. She’s an unemployed single mom with three children living at home. She attended the Fort Worth event this year and went straight to the Job and Career Services tent. There, she found an organization that would pay for her to go back to school to get her license as a certified nursing assistant. She signed up for school and filled out an application for a job. She left feeling excited about what her future holds. 

These are just two examples of what Community Events are all about. Guests of Honor leave with a sense of empowerment and the ability to move beyond obstacles and tough circumstances in their life. 

To learn more about Community Events, visit convoyofhope.org/communityevents.

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25 Stories That Shaped Convoy of Hope / Community Outreach

Dedicated to Honoring Veterans

An elderly man approached the Veterans Services area at a recent Convoy of Hope Community Event. As he spoke with one of our volunteers, he shared that he had been a part of the Army National Guard for 34 years but had never been enrolled in VA care. The volunteer sat him down, assisted him with filling out the necessary paperwork, and helped him turn it in for processing. This veteran will now receive the assistance he needs for his heath, vision, and hearing.

Convoy of Hope believes the sacrifice of veterans should be honored. That’s why we dedicate an area for veterans and their families at most every Community Event we hold. We pair every veteran or veteran family member with a guide who provides one-on-one assistance and makes sure the guest connects with the services they need. Below is list of organizations that help make our Veterans Services area a success:

American Legion Red Cross Veterans
Community College Training Programs (Grant Recipients) Regional Veterans Service Officers
College VA Services Supportive Services for Veterans’ Families
DAV USO
Elks V.A. Homeless Housing
Existing Stand Downs V.A. Medical Services (including mobile units)
Goodwill Veterans Job & Career Assistance V.A. Re-Invigoration Programs
Hiring Our Heroes Vet Center
HUD VFW
Local Career Centers – V.A. Rep Warriors Journey
Local Veterans Organizations & Charities Best Serving Veterans

We are thankful for the role veterans play in communities all over the United States, and we recognize their service and sacrifice this Veterans Day.

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Community Outreach / Field Story / Volunteering