Tag: Disaster Response

Multiplying Hope

YOUR KINDNESS IS CHANGING LIVES

Chege ran with desperation in his eyes. Sweat poured down the 8-year-old boy’s face as he took in another panicky, dust-filled breath. He sprinted through fields of brittle grass and down the winding roads that surrounded his Kenyan neighborhood. He had to find help. 

His mother was dying.

The night before, his father — an abusive, violent alcoholic — had beaten Chege’s mother during a drunken rage.

The next morning, she called to Chege, saying, “I want you to run and find your father, because I feel like I’m going to die.” 

The boy ran as fast as he could, but his mother passed before they returned. Chege thought his future died with his mother. But, his life was far from over. Chege was enrolled in a school where Convoy of Hope fed hungry children like him. It was there that he also received his first pair of shoes. 

He started studying diligently, and his teachers began to see a difference in his performance. With a nutritious meal in his stomach and determination in his soul, he advanced three grade levels in one year. 

Eventually, he finished school and was accepted into university to study chemistry. 

Today Chege finds time to tutor students in the school he attended as a child — the same place where Convoy of Hope still feeds children every school day. “I’m telling them they are valuable,” he says. “I tell them I was like them. Hungry in my body and in my mind, and people like Convoy of Hope came along and fed me. And now, because of them, I will never be the same. I will accomplish my vision. And nothing can stop me.” 

That’s what we call “hope multiplied.” From the outskirts of a Kenyan village to major metropolitan cities within the U.S., Convoy of Hope is partnering with schools, churches, community groups, and friends to spread hope to people who just need to know someone cares.

CHICAGO KINDNESS 

More than 20 years ago, Convoy of Hope began conducting Community Events in Chicago, Illinois. Year after year, we brought together churches, businesses, and civic organizations to reach out to thousands of honored guests in these communities. With the assistance of more than 1,000 volunteers at each event, we returned each year with groceries, job fairs, medical and dental services, children’s shoes, and more — all of which was free of charge to guests. Local authorities and law enforcement said they saw a tangible difference in the communities because of the kindness shown. 

Through Community Events held in 2015, 2016, and 2018, we served 28,193 Guests of Honor living in the Chicago area. “Lives have been changed because of the generosity of your partners and the diligence of the workers,” says one Chicago pastor. 

When COVID-19 threatened to cancel the 2020 Chicago Community Event altogether, the large-scale gathering was in jeopardy. But the community was determined to make it happen. They knew what it would do for children and families in need. Through a Disaster Services model — where food and services are distributed safely — more than 5,000 families were still served. Despite the pandemic and all the obstacles it brought that day, hope was multiplied.

“Each day, Convoy of Hope’s friends and partners make sacrifices so others can receive real help and lasting hope,” says Hal Donaldson, Convoy of Hope’s President. “From our Children’s Feeding programs, to the job training initiatives for women, to water and agriculture initiatives for farmers, to Community Events and our disaster relief efforts, people are having their hope restored and multiplied.”

This story was first published in Convoy of Hope’s Hope Quarterly magazine. Read the rest of the issue here.

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Hope for South Africa: An Interview with Dr. Jim Blessman

Dr. Jim Blessman is the creator of Blessman International, a faith-based organization which works to meet the needs of children and families in the Limpopo province of South Africa. Blessman International — a strategic partner of Convoy of Hope in South Africa — creates programs which help provide food, water, sanitation, and critical knowledge to participants.

Convoy: Not everyone can travel to Africa and see the hunger crisis for themselves. Describe what it looks like. 

Blessman: In South Africa, it’s not a war-torn area where you see people with pot bellies and skin changes because of malnutrition. Kids here are more in the realm of stunted children. The untrained eye might not even see it until you ask the ages of children. They typically are about three years older than you would guess. They’re chronically underfed, and that affects their brain development and stature. 

Convoy: What effect has the COVID-19 pandemic had on our efforts this past year? 

Blessman: In our area, many kids who are vulnerable will get their food at school and program centers. But when the government became worried about COVID-19, they locked down both of those. It was very frustrating knowing that so many kids still need food. But we’re doing all we can. 

Convoy: How is Convoy of Hope working to end stunting and malnutrition in South Africa? 

Blessman: Convoy of Hope is [critical] to ending malnutrition in South Africa. Convoy of Hope provides 1.4 million meals each year … and helped us teach families about agriculture so they can sustain their own nutrition.

Convoy: What motivates you to keep meeting needs? 

Blessman: I’m a physician, so it’s in my DNA to help people. It energizes me … Whenever I feel a little discouraged, I look around for somebody I can help. It just makes me feel better. 

Convoy: Is there anything else you want to say to our readers? 

Blessman: Yes, it’s been a 10- year partnership with Convoy of Hope. It’s been a tremendous blessing to lots of people.This story was first published in Convoy of Hope’s Hope Quarterly magazine. Read the rest of the issue here.

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Sandy Taylor distributes meals during Convoy of Hope's response to COVID-19. Sandy Taylor distributes meals during Convoy of Hope's response to COVID-19.

Merry Christmas: A letter from Hal Donaldson

Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to travel the world and experience-rich cultures and incredible sights. But I’ve also seen incredible need. I’ve seen families struggling to survive; I’ve witnessed children lingering outside of schools wondering where their next meals will come from. In truth, it’s sobering.

This holiday season, I tend to think about all those I’ve encountered who do not have their basic needs met. It’s easy to feel guilty for what we have, but seldom does guilt solve problems. It’s more important to be grateful for what you have and to make a decision to share with others.

This year has been unlike anything we could have expected. However, in the midst of hardship, I have seen people like you join in a united act of compassion. You are why — each year as the lights go up and the holiday music plays — I can’t help but be overwhelmed by gratitude.

I am grateful for every person and every partner who has made what we do at Convoy of Hope possible. Because of you, our fleet of tractor-trailers continue to crisscross the nation delivering millions of meals to those who are hurting. Because of you, we have maintained our global program activity during this pandemic, feeding children and empowering families. It’s truly inspiring the way we’ve seen people come together to make a difference despite these uncertain times.

Thank you, again, for being willing to do what you can to help your neighbors in need, both those close and far away. Your generosity and selflessness have inspired me and continue to build a better future for us all.

God bless,

Hal Donaldson

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Sandy Taylor distributes meals during Convoy of Hope's response to COVID-19. Sandy Taylor distributes meals during Convoy of Hope's response to COVID-19.

A Vision For the Future

Just before her 50th birthday, Sandy Taylor — a successful corporate executive — felt oblivious to the suffering in her community and the world.

That year, everything changed when she experienced a life-threatening trauma, resulting in blindness in her right eye. But as her physical vision diminished, the world around her was illuminated. “I began realizing that almost everyone is dealing with something, and I started experiencing a strong compassion for people who were hurting.”

Sandy became involved in Convoy:Women and supporting Women’s Empowerment. “For $1,000, I can change a woman’s life, her family’s life, and an entire community,” she says.

Sandy began considering how she wanted to leave her legacy. “God gave me a peace that I could trust Convoy with the resources He gave me to steward. I want to leave a legacy of compassion and generosity.”

    Here are a few ways to include Convoy of Hope in your legacy and estate planning:

  • Retitle an asset with Convoy of Hope as a transfer on death designation.
  • Name Convoy of Hope as a beneficiary of an IRA account or a life insurance policy.
  • Name Convoy of Hope as a beneficiary of a Donor Advised Fund.
  • Give a gift or bequest from your will or living trust.
  • This story was first published in Convoy of Hope’s Hope Quarterly magazine. Read the rest of the issue here.

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Volunteers at a Convoy of Hope distribution in Las Vegas are full of Christmas spirit. Volunteers at a Convoy of Hope distribution in Las Vegas are full of Christmas spirit.

Delaware Man Fights Food Insecurity & Mental Illness in His Community

In partnership with Convoy of Hope, The Journey has distributed more than 200,000 pounds of food this year to those impacted by COVID-19 in Delaware alone. Steve Miller, a pastor at the church who oversees the Code Red community assistance program, noticed that the start of the pandemic highlighted and exacerbated the issue of domestic food insecurity. “I think so many times it’s easy to think that those types of circumstances exist overseas — and they do — but they also exist right in our backyards,” he said.

As the pandemic worsened, Steve and his team began to notice other prominent issues in their community. The rates of addiction, suicide, and overdoses skyrocketed as people remained isolated in their homes. By Steve’s estimates, there were 285 peer support groups meeting regularly before the pandemic. Today, less than one tenth of them remain open.

“One of our other concerns during this time of COVID-19 is the mental health and recovery resources that are available for people,” Steve said. “So that’s a huge concern of ours as well. We have about a half a dozen environments that we’ve created on a weekly or biweekly basis where people can come and seek counseling and peer support to help them get through the recovery process and hopefully set on a path toward greater things in their life.”

Food distributions made possible by Convoy of Hope helped recipients take the next step toward recovery and mental wellness. Some signed up for the recovery and support groups with their newly acquired groceries still in hand. The groceries helped meet guests’ immediate needs, but the event itself gave them hope for the future.

“Hope buys another day. Hope buys another week,” Steve said. “And if that hope comes through a package of food, or if that hope comes from being surrounded by other people that are on the same path and are trying to overcome similar circumstances and just knowing that you’re not in it alone, that’s where we want to be.”

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