Browsing Category: 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

COMMENT
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Email
  • Pinterest
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.

COMMENT
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Email
  • Pinterest
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.

COMMENT
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Email
  • Pinterest
Community Outreach / Field Story / Volunteering

Treating others as a Guest of Honor

Convoy of Hope began hosting Community Events 25 years ago. Since then, we’ve helped thousands of Guests of Honor — from New York to Hawaii, Washington to Florida, and everywhere in between — in more than 1,200 cities in the United States. 

Guests of Honor are our neighbors, co-workers, the people we see at church each Sunday, the grocery check-out clerk, or the person asking for help on the corner. They are the families who need a hand-up during difficult times, individuals living on the fringes of poverty, and those who are barely making it paycheck to paycheck. They are people we all know and love and want to help. 

They are people like Carly. It had already been a long day for Carly before she attended the Wichita Convoy of Hope Community Event with her family. She’d worked eight hours at one job; after the event, she would be going to her second job. 

Carly and her family have attended the Community Event for four years in a row. She and her kids go to every area: haircuts, shoes, Kids Zone to receiving backpacks, and groceries at the end. The haircuts are particularly of value. The only time Carly’s daughters receive haircuts are when they attend Community Events.

When asked why she keeps returning, she says, “Convoy is one of the most understanding and respectful organizations. They treat you like a person. Like you’re just another person that deserves something. They don’t look down on you. They don’t treat you different. They don’t talk to you like you’re a 5-year old kid. You don’t get that. People in our situations don’t get that.” 

Her entire family feels connected to the event. In fact, her oldest daughter decided to be a volunteer this year. “We’re hoping by next year, we won’t need the services, and then we can all come back and volunteer,” Carly says. “They’ve helped us, so we try to give back if we can.”  

Carly and her family are striving to be like the Camposes — Guests of Honor who went to their first event several years ago when they were having a tough time. The flyer they received highlighted free services that they needed.

“When I came to the Convoy of Hope event, and every five or six meters is one person, smiling and saying, ‘Welcome. You’ve been welcome. God bless you.’ Wow. This is what I needed,” said Roberto Campos. “I believe the people received me and this changed my life.” 

Since then, the entire Campos family has volunteered at their local Community Event for five consecutive years. Coming full circle from receiving to giving back — showing other Guests of Honor in their community the same level of dignity and respect they were shown. 

Since 1994, Convoy of Hope Community Events have served more than 2 million Guests of Honor around the United States — people like Carly and the Camposes — who simply need hope in a time of need. To learn more about Community Events, visit convoyofhope.org/events

COMMENT
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Email
  • Pinterest
25 Stories That Shaped Convoy of Hope / Community Outreach / Field Story / Inspiration / Join the Convoy / Volunteering

Care Days to Community Events: The story of Convoy of Hope’s First Community Event

Since the very beginning, Convoy of Hope has been helping people reach out to their communities through acts of compassion. In Convoy’s first year, we held small-scale Community Events called Care Days. It started with simple block parties that served 200 to 400 guests. However, our Community Event model changed almost overnight. 

About a year later, a ministry offered to partner with Convoy of Hope at a couple of large community events in Los Angeles and San Francisco by providing multiple truck loads of food. The plan was to conduct these events at a major sports stadium and have enough resources to serve thousands of guests at each location. 

We jumped at the opportunity. It was a leap of faith, though, as we’d never tried to do something this big or complicated before. There was no manual for us to look at. It would all need to be developed.

We began making lots of road trips to meet with community and church leaders. Everyone was excited to be involved. But after meeting with local leaders, it didn’t take us long to see a problem with the “big stadium” model. How were people in need supposed to cross a major city to get to the stadium? We knew many of the people who would want to come never left their own neighborhoods due to a lack of resources or fear about crime and gangs. 

Instead of doing one major event in Los Angeles, we decided to do three events that could be placed within the areas of greatest need. However, to fit within the plans already in motion with our partner, all three events had to take place on the same day — Watts was scheduled to start at 9 a.m., South Central Los Angeles at 1 p.m., and East Los Angeles at 4 p.m.

Our day began at about 4 a.m. in Watts well before sunrise. There was tremendous excitement in the air as we set up. When the gates opened, many of our Guests of Honor were solemn, but there was a new hope in their eyes by the time they left. We could see their faces transform before our very eyes. That’s when we knew we were on to something.

Our day ended around midnight. Though we were all exhausted, we were thrilled by what we’d experienced. We had served approximately 14,000 guests and mobilized more than 200 volunteers in three different communities in just one day.

Two weeks later, we led two events in San Francisco and one in Oakland, serving another 12,000 guests. We did 10 more of these events by the end of the year and have continued to do them to this day. 

Convoy has served more than 2 million Guests of Honor through more than 1,200 Community Events across the United States and in many cities around the world. These events have evolved over the years; we’ve added components like health services, haircuts, and family portraits. However, the basics of the events have not changed — we’re mobilizing communities to serve their neighbors in need, giving help and hope to all that come.

COMMENT
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Email
  • Pinterest
25 Stories That Shaped Convoy of Hope / Community Outreach