Browsing Category: Staff Spotlight

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

The Anatomy of a Disaster Response

The forecast calls for a storm — It could be anything from a hurricane to a tornado or even floods. But the type of disaster doesn’t matter, because the Convoy of Hope team is prepared to jump into action no matter the situation.

What happens behind-the-scenes in Convoy of Hope’s Disaster Services department? All year long, no matter the season, our staff and lead volunteers are constantly training and preparing for the next response.

Of course, there are disasters that catch all of us off guard — like earthquakes or tsunamis — but more often than not, disasters are weather-related in some way and that means we can see them coming, so to speak.

It all starts in the COHOC

Whether it’s a hurricane forming offshore, severe weather and tornadoes being forecasted or extensive rainfall leading to flooding, these types of disasters put our team into motion before they even occur. When the probability of weather-related events start increasing, we activate the Convoy of Hope Operations Center or the “COHOC” as we call it. While the COHOC exists within the walls of our World Headquarters in Springfield, Mo., technology today now allows us to have a virtual COHOC wherever we go.

Once activated, we are scouring multiple sources of data to mine out the latest intel to help us shape our potential response. At the same time, we are readying the appropriate trucks, supplies, equipment and personnel to respond,  should the situation escalate.

When we hit the road

If a response is warranted, we hit the road. The COHOC continues to provide support to the team while en route by providing the latest intel on the situation and identifying potential landing spots.

Once the deployment team is in full response mode in the field, support continues from the COHOC by seeking out the latest intel, but also by communicating with other parts of the organization to provide two-way communications to and from the field. It is important for the COHOC to act as the central hub of communication for the overall response.

In addition to the COHOC, we have a Mobile Operations Center and once deployed, it acts as our base for field operations. The Mobile Operations Center and the COHOC stay in constant contact for the duration of the response through cellular and satellite communication devices.

Cleaning and Debriefing

Once the response comes to an end and the team returns home, there is a plethora of tasks including cleaning and maintenance of equipment and even debriefing to refine our processes for the next response. Once all the work is done and things are back in place, we’re ready to do it all over again.

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Disaster Services / Staff Spotlight

Staff Spotlight: Bringing hope in the darkest hour

Growing up in Portugal from the age of six through high school, Chris Dudley has truly lived an international life. After high school, Chris lived in many places like Minnesota, Florida, Brussels and Denmark. Now, as Convoy of Hope’s Director of International Disaster Response, Chris continues to travel, preparing for and responding to disasters all over the world.

What brought you to Convoy of Hope?

The guy who started Convoy of Hope Europe had been a missionary in Portugal when I lived there. He has known me since I was six years old. So, he asked if I wanted to come and work with him.

How often do you travel?

About once a month. It depends on the year and what’s going on in the world. I go to all of our focus countries to help get prepositioned disaster relief supplies in-country, work with our staff to try to be prepared and then respond to disasters.

What’s your favorite part of your job?

I get to eat all over the planet. I get to eat some of the strangest and grossest food at times, and some of the most delicious, amazing food at other times.

What’s the best thing you’ve eaten?

There’s nothing like Lebanese food. Lebanese food is absolutely amazing.

What are some of the biggest disasters you have been responded to? 

Haiti was the first really big one that I was a part of and I wasn’t even really on the disaster team at that point. I was still in Europe. So, I came over to represent the Europe office. And then, probably next to that, would be Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, which was a monster of a storm. I spent A LOT of time in the Philippines after that. I thought about becoming a citizen because it just would’ve made my life easier, going in and out of the airport in Manila.

What do people not realize about disaster response?

People, I think, watch TV and they see very sensational images that kind of pull at their heart strings, which it should. But, I think people who have never lived through a disaster don’t understand the depth of how it impacts an individual. Disaster can have a lifetime effect on people. So by us going in and helping people in sort of their darkest hour, for me, is really fulfilling.

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Staff Spotlight

World Humanitarian Day

According to the United Nations, “World Humanitarian Day (WHD) is held every year on 19 August to pay tribute to aid workers who risk their lives in humanitarian service, and to rally support for people affected by crises all over the world.”

Did you know?

  • International humanitarian assistance increased for the third consecutive year, reaching a record high of $28 billion in 2015. In 2016, it amounted for $27.2 billion.
  • In 2015, 287 aid workers were victims of major attacks: 109 killed, 110 wounded and 68 kidnapped.
  • A recent report by the World Health Organisation indicates that between 2014 and 2015, approximately a thousand people died as a result of attacks on medical facilities and workers in 19 countries.

Convoy of Hope’s Humanitarian Affairs team is tasked with monitoring and researching crises around the world, creating a response plan and implementing programs to assist people suffering as a result of those tragedies.

We asked the team what it means to be a humanitarian. This is what they said.

Working to advocate for humanitarianism is a very rewarding, yet overwhelming task. While providing relief and help to many in need, the experience of their poor conditions, the sense of suffering, the realization of what they have lost and the reality of their lack of safety weighs on me and compels me to keep working hard to do our part to bring that much-needed hope. — Tamar

Being part of Convoy’s humanitarian affairs team is humbling in many respects, but when I think of the work COH does for and among refugees, I can’t help but wonder that the true “humanitarians” in these situations are the mothers walking across hostile terrain and in harsh climates to protect small children and infants or the fathers who must make near impossible decisions – decisions most of us could never imagine – for the safety and future of their families. — Tom

It is really counter-cultural, counter self-preservation, counter tribal instincts and rights demanded under the threat of scarcity. The individuals we serve model the moral and spiritual grounds for intervention. It is generally they who first secured some vestiges of sanity in chaos to survive, who answered violence with peace, who placed the needs of their community and family ahead of their own safety. — Kari

Being a humanitarian is not an action that only exists while in a refugee camp or in the aftermath of a natural disaster: It is a commitment to a lifestyle from which we choose to view the world. In the realm of humanitarian affairs, we put ourselves in places where people require the most need, sometimes the areas are dangerous and most of the time the areas are thousands of miles from our families. Though our sacrifices can be great, it is minuscule compared to the pain our beneficiaries have gone through and sacrifices they have made to reach the safest places attainable to them. — Roshani

Please join us today as we pray for the humanitarians who are doing good work to help the poor and suffering throughout the world — no matter the risk.

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In The News / Inspiration / Staff Spotlight

Staff Spotlight: Bringing Good Will to All

One might call Will Leidecker our Staff Accountant in Finance. We like to call him our friend.

Where’s home?
Branson, Missouri

What are some of your hobbies?
I enjoy rock climbing, canoeing and camping. Right now, I’m also reading a friend’s book and helping another one of my buddies fix up a bus. You know…normal bachelor stuff.

What’s one of your favorite places in Springfield?
Cherry Picker Package X Fare is a local coffee shop cafe with a cool vibe. They even have fire pits. It’s a great spot to hang out on the weekends.

Do you have any good stories?
I once traveled to Nicaragua to build houses and drill wells. I also went with my friend Marvin, who works with gang members, to visit a prison there. One of the prisoners gave me a bracelet made from a plastic bag. I wear it to remember the people and memories I made on that trip.

Why do you love your job?
My team is great. They want to make everything better, so they listen to what I have to say. I wanted to do something impactful with my career, and I can do that here.

Here’s a co-worker compliment:
Will’s ninja-like CPA skills keep us all afloat and moving steady. He works well with others and shares. He shows the hallmark sign of a truly great accountant, as his desk is often as messy as mine.

I think I can speak for the entire organization when I say we’re glad Will’s on the accounting team, where everybody counts!

~ Jon Krepinevich
Divisional Finance Director

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Staff Spotlight