Tag: Community Events

Care Days to Community Events: The story of Convoy of Hope’s First Community Event

Since the very beginning, Convoy of Hope has been helping people reach out to their communities through acts of compassion. In Convoy’s first year, we held small-scale Community Events called Care Days. It started with simple block parties that served 200 to 400 guests. However, our Community Event model changed almost overnight. 

About a year later, a ministry offered to partner with Convoy of Hope at a couple of large community events in Los Angeles and San Francisco by providing multiple truck loads of food. The plan was to conduct these events at a major sports stadium and have enough resources to serve thousands of guests at each location. 

We jumped at the opportunity. It was a leap of faith, though, as we’d never tried to do something this big or complicated before. There was no manual for us to look at. It would all need to be developed.

We began making lots of road trips to meet with community and church leaders. Everyone was excited to be involved. But after meeting with local leaders, it didn’t take us long to see a problem with the “big stadium” model. How were people in need supposed to cross a major city to get to the stadium? We knew many of the people who would want to come never left their own neighborhoods due to a lack of resources or fear about crime and gangs. 

Instead of doing one major event in Los Angeles, we decided to do three events that could be placed within the areas of greatest need. However, to fit within the plans already in motion with our partner, all three events had to take place on the same day — Watts was scheduled to start at 9 a.m., South Central Los Angeles at 1 p.m., and East Los Angeles at 4 p.m.

Our day began at about 4 a.m. in Watts well before sunrise. There was tremendous excitement in the air as we set up. When the gates opened, many of our Guests of Honor were solemn, but there was a new hope in their eyes by the time they left. We could see their faces transform before our very eyes. That’s when we knew we were on to something.

Our day ended around midnight. Though we were all exhausted, we were thrilled by what we’d experienced. We had served approximately 14,000 guests and mobilized more than 200 volunteers in three different communities in just one day.

Two weeks later, we led two events in San Francisco and one in Oakland, serving another 12,000 guests. We did 10 more of these events by the end of the year and have continued to do them to this day. 

Convoy has served more than 2 million Guests of Honor through more than 1,200 Community Events across the United States and in many cities around the world. These events have evolved over the years; we’ve added components like health services, haircuts, and family portraits. However, the basics of the events have not changed — we’re mobilizing communities to serve their neighbors in need, giving help and hope to all that come.

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25 Stories That Shaped Convoy of Hope / Community Outreach

Hope in Slovakia

The Roma people are one of the largest ethnic minorities in the world who have no home country. Spread throughout Europe, their reputation and history have brought significant prejudice and abuse upon them.

“They have an intensely private culture and usually oppose help from outside their community,” says Michael McNamee, former Regional Director of Convoy of Hope Europe.

The Roma live in separate settlements outside of towns, many of which have no power, running water, or even weather-proofed homes. Entire families live in shantys — their homes consisting of rotting plywood, collapsed roofs, and walls with gaping holes. And yet, families with little children live there in the middle of the cold Slovak winters.

Slovakia has one of the highest Roma populations around the world. One settlement, outside of Vtackovce, held just over 1,000 people living in very rough conditions. “When some teams came … to work in the community,” Michael remembers, “we would sometimes send their medical people … to check on the [Roma] villagers, but there was still a significant resistance on their part.”

In 2015, Convoy of Hope Europe decided to host a Community Event in Vtackovce, Slovakia, to try and build relationships with the community. The event was in April, the snow was melting, and flowers began to appear in fields all over the mountains. Despite the hilly terrain, Convoy had medical tents, food distribution, games for the children, face-painting, live music — the works. Guests of Honor had tickets to come through the tents at predetermined times to avoid overwhelming the different stations.

Thanks to our wonderful volunteers and partners, it went off without a hitch. Most every one of the 1,000 people living in the camps attended. Convoy of Hope Europe has held several Community Events throughout Slovakia, and each of them have been incredibly successful.

“Most of society always keeps them at a distance,” says Aaron Davis, a Convoy of Hope team member. “Kind gestures and smiles crossed cultural barriers into their hearts.”

Seeing the incredible transformation that took place in so many families that day makes us at Convoy so grateful that we were able to be a part. And that is all we are — part of a movement of compassion.

 

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25 Stories That Shaped Convoy of Hope

Volunteering with Convoy of Hope

Volunteers are at the heart of everything Convoy of Hope does. From bagging groceries for Community Events around the country to removing debris after a devastating storm, Convoy of Hope volunteers walk hand in hand with us to help those in need.

We asked a few of our wonderful volunteers to share why they’re passionate about bringing help and hope to impoverished, hungry, and hurting people around the world.

Linda McCalister, a Convoy of Hope volunteer, has served as a community event lead volunteer for two years, volunteers at Hands of Hope, and serves with Convoy:Women. When asked why she would encourage someone to volunteer with Convoy, she says, “You will make some new friends, learn new things, and join an organization that opens the door to hope for thousands — if not millions — of people. It will change your life.”

COMMUNITY EVENTS

At Convoy of Hope Community Events, guests receive free groceries, health screenings, haircuts, career services, and much more. Linda recalls a story from one event of a mother and her young daughter who had walked two miles to a local Community Event so they could receive shoes.

“All she had to wear were plastic shoes that wore blisters on her feet to the point she could not even try on the [new] shoes. The volunteer found the right shoes for the little girl and bandaged her blisters. Then they connected her with someone who gave them a ride home! Something so small that meant so much.”

In 2018, Communities Events served more than 96,000 Guests of Honor at 62 community events in 48 cities. These events would not have been possible without the nearly 28,000 volunteers who partners with Convoy of Hope.

HANDS OF HOPE

On Tuesday nights, Convoy of Hope opens the doors of our World Distribution Center in Springfield, Missouri, and welcomes volunteers in for a weekly volunteer opportunity called Hands of Hope. Volunteers help sort, pack, count, and label items that are distributed throughout the world.

“It’s a great opportunity to serve and provide others in the local community and around the world with the essential items they might not have been able to get,” says Connor Louthan, a lead Hands of Hope volunteer.

In 2018, Hands of Hope partnered with more than 5,500 volunteers who invested more than 12,500 hours during the year.

FIELD TEAMS

Gerald Norz, another Convoy of Hope volunteer, has served on multiple Field Teams during the past five years. He loves working with partners in the field, saying one of his most memorable experiences volunteering with Convoy is, “seeing the children waving as we arrived at the site in Tanzania … such a great welcome and such warm smiles.”

Eighty-two Field Teams — comprised of more than 1,000 volunteers — served in 11 countries around the world in 2018. These teams serve people through projects and interaction connected to Convoy’s Children’s Feeding and Agriculture programs.

***

Community Events, Field Teams, and Hands of Hope are just three of several volunteer opportunities with Convoy of Hope. Whether it’s driving a Convoy of Hope truck, answering phones, or deploying with our Disaster Services team, every volunteer makes a difference in a person’s life through the service they provide. In 2018, we had more than 57,000 volunteers serve domestically and internationally. We are so thankful for each person who serves with their heart and their time! Visit convoyofhope.org/volunteer to learn more about how you can volunteer at Convoy of Hope.

 

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

Convoy of Hope serves thousands at Puerto Rico community outreaches

Convoy of Hope put on community outreach events in five communities across Puerto Rico at the end of 2018. With the help of hundreds of volunteers, more than 2,000 guests were served in areas where Convoy has been active since Hurricane Maria struck in 2017.

Many Puerto Ricans have continued to struggle to put their lives back together after the hurricane. Stories of homelessness or a lack of running water or electricity were common as families received much needed resources.

In addition to free haircuts, health services, groceries, and more, guests commented on feelings of hope they wanted to carry with them long after the events were over. The kindness of those in their own communities and those across the world who support Convoy of Hope gave guests a renewed hope for the future.

Convoy of Hope plans to put on approximately 40 more Community Events in 2019. Learn more about these events and where they will be located at convoyofhope.org/events.

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Community Outreach

Convoy of Hope and NBCF serve more than 70,000 women

Breast cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in women, yet it is still one of the leading causes of cancer death among women. Convoy of Hope and National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF) have been working together for the past 6 years to educate and empower more than 70,000 women on breast health at Community Events!

As a woman enters the NBCF area of service, she will be greeted by a pink attired, specially trained member of the Kindness Crew. There she’ll receive information about breast health education, what breast cancer is and what kinds of questions she should ask her doctor.

From there she’ll learn how to perform a breast self-exam. These exams help alert women to possible concerns that should be brought to the attention of a health professional. Identifying concerns early increases the chances of successful treatment.

Before she leaves the area, we connect her with local resources and provide information on the closest low-cost or no-cost clinics in her area. It’s important that she knows where she can get help and support and that she leaves the NBCF area of service not only feeling cared for, but empowered to be proactive about her own health.

Learn more about Breast Cancer Awareness and the work of NBCF at nationalbreastcancer.org.

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Community Outreach / Partner Spotlight