State: Missouri

Don’t be Chai

In a dusty village near the border of Tanzania and Kenya, government workers and ruby miners start their busy day. The bustling market comes alive with traders and local villagers, and Adimu works diligently to prepare her restaurant for the day’s rush. Each utensil finds its home in an assigned cupboard or drawer. Her new chairs and tile floors offer a welcoming glow as the sun pours through the restaurant’s long yellow curtains.

It hasn’t always been this way for Adimu. Not long ago, she was selling tomatoes at her local market and making less than $1 a day. She and her children lived in a different community, and she struggled to provide for them. When Adimu’s daughter received a partial scholarship to attend primary school in a different district, Adimu knew she had to make it work.

Shortly after moving, Anna got involved in Convoy of Hope’s Women’s Empowerment program. After completing her training, she was given the opportunity to run her own restaurant. Every day, she works hard preparing meals and chai for the customers at her restaurant while her children attend school. Now that Adimu has a steady income, she can afford to feed her children three times a day and pay for their schooling.

“I am amazed at the favor I have in this community,” she says.

As the sun continues to scorch the earth during the relentless dry season, women begin to line up outside Adimu’s restaurant. Before, this group struggled for hours every day to find clean water. Now they fill their cans and water bottles with the water rushing from the faucet outside of Adimu’s business.

As other women in her Tanzanian community continue to search for the chance at a better life, Adimu’s restaurant stands as a reminder — hope is never far away.
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Women's Empowerment

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

A Nation in Mourning: Convoy of Hope’s 9/11 Response

When the first plane flew into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, time seemed to stop. We as a nation held our breath at the horror of what we were witnessing. 

What followed was days, weeks, and months of confusion and heartache as we in the United States figured out how to move forward. People from across the world stepped up to help, and Convoy of Hope was no exception. 

At the time, Convoy of Hope’s Disaster Services team was brand new. We’d responded to a few smaller hurricanes, but nothing with the impact we saw after the September 11 attacks. Regardless, Convoy of Hope’s first truckload of relief supplies left the World Distribution Center for the East Coast within 24 hours of the attack. 

When we arrived, we found a city in shock. 

“There were probably three weeks where you could hear a pin drop in New York City,” former Convoy of Hope employee Mike Ennis said. “I’ve never seen the city that way before or since.”

Our immediate response focused on assisting emergency workers at Ground Zero and the Pentagon. In New York, Convoy of Hope assisted a Staten Island respite center that supported more than 400 firefighters, rescue workers, and national guardsmen for four months. We also provided hot meals, supplies, shower facilities, and beds for those working long shifts at Ground Zero. It was a haven of peace, order, and love for the men and women facing indescribable scenes day after day. 

In the long term, we partnered with several key groups in New York to plan what we called “Encouragement Events” — both large and small gatherings that focused on rescue workers and families who lost loved ones. We also wanted to bring hope to the average New Yorker still struggling with what happened but wouldn’t be included on an official list of “victims.” The need for massive counseling and peer support systems was very clear. 

Thankfully, because of the connections we made during that chaotic time, we’ve been able to serve the New York area in many ways, which includes our response after Superstorm Sandy and through Hope Days

September 11 was a defining moment in Convoy’s 25 years that has shaped us into the organization we are today. That dark time taught us that — even in the worst of times — hope, compassion, and kindness can still make all the difference. 

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25 Stories That Shaped Convoy of Hope / Disaster Services

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