Browsing Category: Rural Compassion

A Big Impact in Rural America

Cities, urban areas, metropoles — they’re full of community centers, places where groups can meet, those in need can receive help and communities can grow and thrive. So, where do you go in a small, rural town? The local church.

Convoy of Hope’s Rural Compassion Initiative reaches out to those in need through organizations local to the area. The local church often offers space, volunteers and a leader with a heart to help their community.

One of Convoy’s great partners is Tommy Hayes, the Assemblies of God North Texas Rural Ministry Coordinator. According to Hayes, many of the pastors and churches he works with already hold the desire to help their community, but lack the resources to do so. This is where Convoy of Hope comes in.

“The rural church doesn’t have much money to do anything, to buy these big resources,” Hayes said. “But Rural Compassion supplies the resources to be able to do this with very little and make a big impact.”

Convoy of Hope is proud to have partnered with more than 1,200 churches and organizations in 2017 around rural America. Through these churches, the Rural Compassion Initiative has been able to distribute more than 90,000 pairs of shoes, 1,000,000 meals and other resources to those in need.

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Rural Compassion

Rural Compassion combats poverty

Imagine being 12 years old, waking up early for school because you have to walk to get there. You squeeze into a pair of shoes that once fit, when you originally got them, but are now too tight. There’s a hole in one sole and a tear on the other, but they’re all you have and your family can’t afford a new pair. This is a real situation for too many kids living in rural America today.

In 2016, 15.8 percent of people living in Rural America were living in poverty. That is three percent more than the national average of 12.7. This high poverty rate is underlined with a greater lack of resources. For most living in rural areas, the closest career center or food bank may be hours away depending on how close the nearest metro area is. Many of those in need also do not have access to a car, making those resources even harder to get to.

With a lack of resources in smaller towns, many look to churches as community centers. Convoy of Hope’s Rural Compassion Initiative resources and partners with rural churches. Through training, mentoring and coaching, Convoy helps churches strengthen their communities. We do this through partnerships with community stakeholders, shoe and backpack distributions in schools and feeding programs.

If you have a heart for rural America, one of the best ways to help is to spread the word. When many think of high-poverty areas, they don’t picture “small town America.” Changing this preconception and helping inform others is big step a toward helping working poor families in need.

You can also donate to support Rural Compassion here.

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The group rode 500 miles across New Mexico to raise money for Convoy of Hope.(PHOTO: Mark Morris) The group rode 500 miles across New Mexico to raise money for Convoy of Hope.(PHOTO: Mark Morris)

Bike for the Light

Turning a hobby into hope

Each year, Convoy of Hope’s Rural Compassion Initiative hosts hundreds of 24-hour training sessions across the country. Kim and Laurel Harvey, members of the team, host events like this regularly — but at a recent event in New Mexico, they wouldn’t simply be going back home afterwards. Kim was joining a group of nearly 30 people who would be riding bicycles 500 miles across New Mexico. This was all part of a mission to help raise money for Speed the Light to purchase a new vehicle for Convoy of Hope.

Nearly 30 cyclists participated in Bike for the Light.

Nearly 30 cyclists participated in Bike for the Light. (PHOTO: Robert Bradford)

“I couldn’t imagine riding 100 miles a day for five days in a row,” says Harvey. “But when I met the other riders and felt their passion for the work we do, I was encouraged.”

In its fourth year, the group made their “Bike for the Light” journey to raise money and awareness for work being done throughout the world. The riders set off on a Monday morning and would ride 100 miles a day until they finished at the Texas border on Friday evening.

“Everyone put in a lot of training,” says Jason Dickenson, lead pastor of Harvest Church in New Mexico.

Some riders participated for different legs of the race, while others completed the full 500 miles. Dickenson’s 7-year-old daughter, Ava, and her cousin Koa joined them for 100 miles.

7-year-old cousins, Ava and Koa, rode 100 of the 500 miles with their dads.(PHOTO: Robert Bradford)

7-year-old cousins, Ava and Koa, rode 100 of the 500 miles with their dads.(PHOTO: Robert Bradford)

“It was really hard going up all the hills,” Ava says. “But I want kids to learn they can do things to help too.”

Dickenson said the ride was difficult, but knowing the impact being made gave them the strength they needed to keep going.

During a 65-mile training ride Ava stopped, turned to her dad and said, “Dad, I’m really tired … but we can’t stop because there are people that need us to finish.”

So that’s what they did. After days of physical and emotional wear, the team finished and raised more than $70,000, which is the biggest fundraising year yet. According to Dickenson, it was an incredibly emotional experience for all involved and he hopes it serves as an inspiration to others.

“It’s amazing to think you can make a difference by doing something as easy as riding a bike,” he says.

It is because of friends like him, who are willing to take a hobby, talent or passion and put it to good use, that we are able to provide help and hope to millions of people throughout the world. Thank you.

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Rural Compassion volunteers load trucks with food and supplies to be shipped to rural communities. Rural Compassion volunteers load trucks with food and supplies to be shipped to rural communities.

A heart for rural America

Today, leaders from 25 rural communities around the U.S. met at Convoy of Hope’s World Distribution Center in Springfield, Missouri, to attend community outreach trainings through our Rural Compassion Initiative. Attendees drove upwards of 400 miles to receive training and resources to bring back to their communities. The summer heat didn’t stop these leaders from loading up more than four semi-truck loads of goods to distribute in their towns.

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Richard Ross of Holbrook, Missouri, says his community is very poor and overrun with a methamphetamine epidemic. He says his solution to reaching out to those in need is simple.

“We accept them as they are,” he says bluntly, noting how his involvement with Rural Compassion has greatly influenced his community.

“Becoming involved with Convoy of Hope was a watershed moment for us,” says Ross. “We went from struggling to make ends meet to prospering. It started a chain reaction. When we started taking the ideas that Convoy of Hope had given us…other doors began to open. We began partnering with a food bank and others who helped us reach out to the community.”

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Rural Compassion’s Senior Director and Convoy of Hope Co-Founder, Steve Donaldson says the training sessions are critical in the initiative’s effort to engage with community leaders in impoverished rural towns. Convoy of Hope is committed to help these leaders for years to come.

“We resource leaders and interlink them with each other,” Donaldson says. “We’re bringing people together who are focused on making their communities a better place for children and families to flourish.”

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Rural Compassion