Tag: Volunteers

IDF fills hygiene kits for Convoy of Hope

On Thursday, February 22, associates at International Dehydrated Foods left their offices and came together to create more than 1,000 hygiene kits for Convoy of Hope.

IDF associates lined tables in a conference room and created their own assembly lines to fill bags with hygiene items like soap, toothpaste and washcloths. Their goal was to fill more than 1,000 bags in an hour, but managed to reach their goal in less than 30 minutes.

“We had so much participation,” Erin Danastasio, IDF Corporate Communication Manager said. “I mean almost everybody in the corporate office was able to come down and help out for the little bit. I’m exstatic. I’m so pleased with the outcome.”

The hygiene kits created will go to help disaster survivors in their time of crisis. Having hygiene kits like these ready before disaster strikes, means they can be given to survivors right away.

 
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Join the Convoy / Partner Spotlight / 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
Lisa beams as she stands outside the NBCF tent in Chicago. Lisa beams as she stands outside the NBCF tent in Chicago.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Saving Moms and Daughters

Lisa, a 51-year-old breast cancer survivor wearing a brightly colored “Breast Cancer Survivor” t-shirt, beams as she is greeted at the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc.® tent by representatives and volunteers. Her smile is one of resilience, determination and gratitude — all honed over her battle with cancer.

“It was devastating,” says Lisa of her diagnosis in 2011. “I was in a state of shock.”

Lisa relied on her friends, family and support groups to get her through the difficult times. She started chemotherapy and radiation and in late 2012 received the best news she could receive — she was cancer-free.

When asked how it felt when she heard those words come from her doctor, Lisa took a deep breath then slowly exhaled. Her body seemed to slip into a peaceful stance. “Joy,” she said as her eyes filled with tears.

Later in the day, more tears fell under the NBCF tent — but this time from a volunteer. Stacey, age 46, was decked out in all her breast cancer awareness accessories as a way to honor her late mother, who lost her battle with breast cancer in 2010.

“I hope she’s proud of me,” Stacey says of her mother, noting that the NBCF tent is important for women because of the early detection education and support services they offer. Throughout the day, Stacey could be heard encouraging other women to be aware and know their bodies so that they can take control of their health — a key talking point passed onto each woman who comes through the tent.

“It means a lot to me that these resources exist,” says Stacey of the education and services offered by NBCF. “Being aware saves mothers and daughters, and if I can help one person with my story — it’s worth it.”

For more information, visit nbcf.org.

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Community Outreach / Inspiration / Partner Spotlight