Tag: Generosity

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

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

Convoy of Hope receives 16th consecutive “Four Star Charity” rating from Charity Navigator

Convoy of Hope is happy to announce we have received Charity Navigator’s top Four Star Charity rating for the 16th year in a row!

We understand that financial accountability and transparency are very important when you are deciding what charitable organizations you want to support. To that end, we work tirelessly to ensure we meet and exceed the best practices of our industry. That is why every year since 2002, Convoy has received the highest possible rating from industry watchdog, Charity Navigator.

Currently, nearly 90 percent of every dollar raised by Convoy of Hope goes directly to programming. The remaining covers our administrative and fundraising costs. Convoy’s commitment to keeping our overhead low demonstrates our determination to efficiently deliver help and hope to people in need.

Convoy of Hope’s profile on Charity Navigator can be found here.

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News

Three ways you’re providing clean water through Convoy of Hope

Hope flows through clean water. Today, billions of people around the world are plagued by a lack of access to clean water systems, causing disease and even death. However, the kindness of friends like you is changing that. Students in developing countries, disaster survivors across the United States, and those in rural communities who often feel forgotten are all having their concerns washed away through wells, water filters, and bottled water provided by Convoy of Hope.

Wells 

According to UNICEF, one in four primary schools around the world have no drinking water service. Students are often forced to decide between drinking from unsafe sources or going thirsty. Convoy of Hope is giving students the answer by providing clean water.

Ngaramtoni Primary School’s nearly 1,400 students had to rely on water from a nearby private school. It helped, but it wasn’t enough to meet students’ needs.

On December 7, 2018, a drilling rig struck water at a depth of 394 feet. As water rose up, the drilling company used compressed air to clean out the borehole, and the volume of water that came out was miraculous. It came in torrents, knocking down plants and collecting in a muddy pool before draining out to a nearby stream. The school teachers and Convoy staff were overjoyed. “Now we can do so much more,” the head teacher said.

Water Filters

When hurricanes, typhoons, and similar storms strike, the biggest problem isn’t a lack of water, but too much of it. Unsanitary flood water contaminates clean water sources — leaving people without water to drink, clean, or cook with. Convoy of Hope’s Disaster Services team has travelled all over the world bringing water filtration systems to those who need them.

Cyclone Idai slammed into southeast Africa last week. Idai left thousands of square miles of land completely underwater, and clean water is running out fast. Convoy of Hope already has a team in Malawi and another is en route to Mozambique where they will distribute relief supplies, including more than 300 water filters, to the communities affected by this disaster.

These water filtration systems are much larger than the ones you may find in your water bottle or on your sink faucet. They can be shared amongst several families and if kept clean they can last for years to come.

Bottled Water

Here in the U.S., disasters can compromise and even wipe out local water systems, too — leaving families without clean water for days or months at a time.

Families across the Midwest are currently dealing with some of the most severe flooding they’ve seen in decades. Nebraska farms are underwater, homes in Illinois have been destroyed, and several communities no longer have access to clean water as their water system has been compromised. Convoy of Hope has already delivered more than 250,000 pounds of bottled water to communities in need.

When the Camp Fire burned through the city of Paradise, California, it not only left thousands of homes and businesses burned, but it left an entire city without access to clean water. Now, almost five months since the fire, Convoy of Hope continues to send two truck loads of water to Paradise every week. This provides one of the main water sources for the city as families work to rebuild their lives.

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Children's Feeding / Disaster Services / Field Story / Join the Convoy