Browsing Category: Volunteering

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

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

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

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

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25 Stories That Shaped Convoy of Hope / Community Outreach / Field Story / Inspiration / Join the Convoy / Volunteering

Field Teams: Hope for a Sustainable Future

Convoy of Hope Field Teams come alongside communities and engage in work that helps them flourish. Teams from all over the U.S. work with the staff in several countries around the world to tackle projects that support Convoy’s various programs. These opportunities give volunteers the chance to offer hope and help in ways that not only affect the lives of one child or family, but the long-term trajectory of an entire community.

Since we began our Field Teams program in 2013, we’ve engaged more than 4,600 volunteers. These teams help in places like the Ngaramtoni Primary School in Tanzania, where teams serve kids who are in our Children’s Feeding program. 

According to Jackie Brawner, a Field Team volunteer leader who worked in this area of Tanzania, teams began working with the school by offering kids lunch every day and helping clear brush so they could build greenhouses. Jackie’s church, Bonita Valley Community Church, even funded two greenhouses for the school to grow their own food for lunch. The school can now sell any extra food they grow at the market to purchase other foods as well, which diversifies their students’ diets. 

With the help of Field Teams, we hope that one day this community will be thriving without need of our help. 

“I love that Convoy of Hope is focused on sustainability,” Jackie says. “We are able, as a team, to go into the places where Convoy of Hope is working and continue the work. And when we leave, because of the established programs they have there, the projects will be continued.” 

Since Convoy entered Ngaramtoni, we’ve held community meetings, helped identify income generating opportunities, addressed hygiene and sanitation issues, empowered mothers to do business, and taught students gardening techniques. The school is now poised to harvest and sell more than 10 metric tons of tomatoes per year, which will fund the lunch program in the future.

“Working with Convoy of Hope Field Teams is the greatest blessing of my life,” says Jackie. “To be boots on the ground and to see the work and effort that Convoy of Hope is doing to feed people and change lives is a priceless experience. On a Field Team, there will be guaranteed laughter and tears. You cannot come back the same. They are truly trips of a lifetime.” 

Already in 2019, 46 Field Teams have served in 10 different locations, from Moldova to the Mississippi Delta. These incredible volunteers have helped with numerous projects around the world in support of our mission — providing help and hope to people who need it most. 

Visit convoyofhope.org/fieldteams to learn more about Field Teams.

 

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25 Stories That Shaped Convoy of Hope / Agriculture / Children's Feeding / Field Story / Join the Convoy / Volunteering