From the Early Care Days to Convoy’s First Community Event
Since the very beginning, Convoy of Hope has helped people reach out to their communities through acts of compassion. In the first year, there were small-scale Community Events called Care Days. It started with simple block parties that served 200 to 400 guests. But later on, an improved Community Event model changed the process 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 tractor-trailer 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.
Convoy jumped at the opportunity. It was a leap of faith — something big and complicated that had not yet been tested. There was no manual to look at … it would all need to be developed.
Convoy of Hope team members 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 long to see a problem with the “big stadium” model. How were people in need going to cross a major city to get to the stadium? Many of the people who would want to come might have a lack of resources or fear about crime and gangs.
Instead of doing one major event in Los Angeles, Convoy decided to host three events that would be placed within the areas of greatest need. But to fit within the plans already in motion with the event partner, all three 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. — an incredible feat.
The teams of volunteers began working at about 4 a.m. in Watts, well before sunrise. There was tremendous excitement in the air as the event was set up. When the gates opened, faces were solemn, but there was a new hope in their eyes by the time they left. Guests of Honor were transformed as the event went on, which was when Convoy knew it was on to something.
The day ended around midnight, and although everyone was exhausted, they were thrilled by what they’d experienced. Convoy of Hope served approximately 14,000 Guests of Honor and mobilized more than 200 volunteers in three different communities — in just one day.
Two weeks later, Convoy led two events in San Francisco and one in Oakland, serving another 12,000 Guests of Honor. There were 10 more of these Community Events by the end of the year, and Convoy of Hope continues to host them to this day.
Convoy has served more than 2 million Guests of Honor through 1,200+ Community Events across the U.S. and in many cities around the world. These events have evolved over the years, now including components, such as health services, haircuts, and family portraits. But the basics of these events have not changed. Convoy of Hope is mobilizing communities to serve their neighbors in need, and is giving help and hope to all that come.