Browsing Category: Volunteering

Hope comes to Watts

Just days before Convoy of Hope Los Angeles, very few believed it was actually going to happen. Residents of the Watts community have often been over promised and under delivered and skepticism ran rampant. Though in the face of adversity, hope came to Watts on December 2, 2017.

Hope arrives 

When the reality that this event was — in fact — going to happen hit, hope and excitement filled the community.

“I was driving down the street, on my way to Convoy and these big, monster Convoy of Hope trucks drove right by me,” said Julian Toriz, LA native and Kids Zone Leader for the event. “I’m like ‘oh my goodness!’ Rolling deep, 3 big trucks — boom, boom, boom. I got out my camera. I’m trying to drive and I’m like ‘I got to document this’.”

More than 8,400 Guests of Honor attended the event that day. They received free groceries, shoes, haircuts, and health services. The local team that worked with Convoy of Hope to make the event a reality was amazed at the impact on the community.

Overcoming challenges

The Watts neighborhood of South Central LA is an area of high poverty and crime. The 2010 census revealed that 35.9% of South Central LA live below the poverty line — more than double the U.S. rate of 14.1%. Watts is home to 13 known gangs and four of the largest housing projects in all of LA – all in a two square mile area.

A large step for the Convoy of Hope team in making this event a reality was meeting with and getting the approval of the Watts Gang Task Force to establish a Day of Peace. According to Convoy of Hope Signature Events Director Steve Pulis, not only did this create an opportunity for the community to attend the event without fear of violence, but it established the event as a positive opportunity to help the community.

“When that group came on board and got behind it, we had more than their permission,” Pulis said. “We got the word out among not only gangs, but the entire community – this event is positive, it’s here to help and the gangs are good with it. It has everyone’s support.”

The event took place in Ted Watkins Memorial Park. This is a special place to Convoy of Hope as it was the site of the first Community Event in 1995, only a few years before the park was closed due to violence at a few large park events. The park was closed to large events for 20 years, until the Convoy of Hope event in 2017.

A day of miracles

Convoy of Hope’s Community Events are only possible through the support of volunteers from within the community and its surrounding areas. For most Community Events, the Convoy of Hope team aims to get between 1,200 and 2,000 volunteers. However, by the day of the Watts event there were only 400 volunteers registered and only 303 actually came.

Even with the low volunteer attendance, the event ran smoothly and every Guest of Honor was able to be served.

“It’s a miracle that we didn’t have any issues,” Pulis said. “People can complain anywhere. You can get in too long of a line at the check out of any store and you’re gonna have someone upset. Nothing here.”

Local team member and long-time Watts resident Cornell Ward referenced the biblical story of The Feeding of the 5,000 — in which Jesus feeds 5,000 people with only five loaves of bread and two fish — and said “I know what it feels like.”

Hope continues

Convoy of Hope is grateful for the opportunity to bring some hope to South Central LA, but the work is not done yet. Convoy of Hope has already planned to return to LA for another Community Event on December 1, 2018.

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Community Outreach / Field Story / Volunteering

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

5 ways you can make the world a better place in 2018

Anyone can change the world! All you need is a desire to help those in need. Below, we’ve outlined five ways you can start making the world a better place today. This year, start your journey to change the world and make it a better, more hopeful place to live.

1. Serve your community

Whether you live in the big city or a small town, there is need in your community. In every community, there are kids who need new shoes, families without enough to eat and people with declining health. Many of these needs go unseen, as those with them may keep it to themselves. So, how can you help? Contact your local chamber of commerce to learn how you can get involved with organizations serving needs in your community. You can also check out our events calendar to find a Convoy of Hope Community Event in your area at convoyofhope.org/events.

2. Volunteer with a national/international organization

Many national and international organizations offer various ways to volunteer. When you go to your favorite charity’s website, there will often be a page titled “volunteer” or “Get involved” that will outline how and where you can go to help. With Convoy of Hope, there are opportunities to volunteer with our Community Events and disaster responses all over the U.S. We also offer opportunities to volunteer at our World Distribution Center in Springfield, Missouri, every Tuesday night.

3. Donate to support a cause you care about

Whatever you’re passionate about, there is probably a cause that helps those in need. At Convoy, we offer opportunities to support Women’s Empowerment, Children’s Feeding, the impoverished in rural America and even agricultural training to farmers in developing countries. Do some research about organizations that work in a field you care about. Supporting a cause doesn’t have to break the bank. Every donation — no matter how large or small — can make a huge difference. Through Convoy of Hope, just $10 can feed a child in need for an entire month.

4. Support brands that give back

When you go to the store, how do you choose which brands to buy — taste, price or packaging? Try thinking about how charitable they are. Convoy of Hope has great partners that are helping us spread hope and by supporting them, you can help support us! Brands like Plum Organics, Home Depot and Hormel Foods are just a few that help us give back to those in need. You can learn how your favorite brands give back on their websites.

5. Be an advocate

When you find an organization or cause you really care about, talk about it! Tweet it, share it and ‘gram it! Spread the word with your friends and families to help raise awareness and support your favorite organizations. We love to see supporters talk about us and share our posts. You can follow Convoy of Hope on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @ConvoyofHope.

Let’s make 2018 the most hopeful year yet!

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Advocacy / Join the Convoy / Volunteering

Benefiting Someone — Somewhere

Dean Stack is one of the 47,000 unsung heroes — volunteers — helping Convoy of Hope bring hope to those who are hungry, impoverished and in need. As a lead volunteer for Hands of Hope, he works at our World Distribution Center every Tuesday night to support our work around the world. Following is a conversation with Dean.  


What do you do for Convoy of Hope?

I’m a lead volunteer here with Hands of Hope. I help coordinate volunteers and operate a forklift.

How long have you been volunteering?

I started volunteering when I heard Convoy was helping with the Joplin tornado in 2011. By 2012, I had become a lead volunteer.

Why do you volunteer?

I just like helping, and this is an easy way to help. When I hear about what Convoy does all around the world and how I can help with the projects they do, it keeps me going and keeps me wanting to come back.

What’s the most rewarding part?

I love hearing about the end result; knowing I played a part, and that my work is benefiting someone, somewhere.

What would you say to someone thinking of volunteering?

You’ve got to do it. Once you do it, you’re going to love it.

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Volunteering

The Unsung Heroes of Convoy of Hope

From time to time I have the opportunity to speak to our staff about volunteers. Every chance I get, I jokingly tell the team I have the best job in the organization because I get to work with volunteers — the people who choose to be here. I get a little chuckle from the team, but the part about me having the best job in the organization is no joke.

Day in and day out, I get to work with people who selflessly give of their time and talents. It’s not about a volunteer just doing something that needs to be done. It’s about people being on the front lines of the ministry by working in the field, teaching others how to start their own businesses and grow their own food, answering our phones, and raising awareness about Convoy of Hope.

We have many types of partners, but one of the most important is our volunteer group. They step out of their comfort zone to help make the world a better place. These men and women aren’t afraid to go to a region of the world they know little about to help someone during their time of need. They come into our office every single week and assist with projects our staff couldn’t begin to do on their own. It would be virtually impossible to do the work we are blessed to do without the thousands of volunteers we engage every year.

It’s safe to say every single day I receive a call or email from a person wanting to be a volunteer at Convoy of Hope. The number of wonderful people in this world so willing to give is never lost on me. The compassion and love our volunteers have for people they don’t know is one of the most beautiful things I’ve witnessed. It’s a selflessness, which takes them outside of their own needs or desires to help someone else.

This is my job — getting to talk with, work with, and fellowship with some of the most amazing people in the world. They are the ones who make it possible for Convoy of Hope to do what we do. These people — our Convoy of Hope volunteers — are really the unsung heroes.

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Volunteering