Convoy of Hope
Early on in my life, my parents instilled the value of doing something for nothing. They taught me there was something to be earned in your soul from giving your time and not asking anything for it. These lessons have not steered me wrong. I have volunteered in many places and in differing capacities ever since I was in middle school. Where I find myself volunteering now is at the Convoy of Hope warehouse.
words + photographs BEN MCVICKER
>> it was supposed to be a date night <<
Five years ago, I started volunteering at a Hands of Hope service night with Dan Matthews as the volunteer coordinator. To be honest, I showed up because it was supposed to be a date night with a girl (who is now my wife — picture below). See, she was a dedicated nursing student, and I wanted to have a date night scheduled in her hectic weeks. She couldn’t make it most weeks due to class and tests, but I kept going, hoping she would be able to join. Dan saw my dedication to attending and helping out even after the regular time had ended. He offered me the opportunity to become lead volunteer, and once he told me leads were given dinner beforehand, I was in.
>> Those who want a place to serve <<
In the years I have been volunteering at Hands of Hope, I have been able to lead many projects and was asked to be in charge of the grocery bagging portion of the last two Convoy of Hope Community Events in Springfield. I have been able to see Convoy serve our community members in need and shape the hearts of those who want a place to serve. I have talked with college students, church groups, and community members, all who have come to volunteer for a night, and then end up coming back again and again. Some of those volunteers are now leads, and we continue with the projects so more people can experience the blessings Convoy provides.
I have seen Convoy grow from an organization serving 160,000 meals in 15 countries to an organization serving more than 380,000 meals in 17 countries. I walk into the warehouse each week seeing shelves upon shelves of goods ready to ship out to disasters or any one of the other Convoy initiatives. I see myself and volunteers sending shoes off to communities 30 minutes away in one set and then sending shoes to a city on the farthest side of the country in the next. I talk with volunteers about the feeling of knowing our small investment of time and energy — putting a tube of toothpaste in a gallon bag — makes a huge difference in someone’s life. People come to Hands of Hope for many different reasons, but I love when a volunteer gets that far off look in his or her eyes that says they are thinking about where and how their little part in the action will make an impact.
… through my work at Convoy, I am able to express to students the vastness of our world and how there are people working to meet the needs in it.
>> I am A better member of my community <<
My day job is that of a school counselor, and through my work at Convoy, I am able to express to students the vastness of our world and how there are people working to meet the needs in it.
One of my favorite experiences was with one of my students who organized a donation box to help those hit by Hurricane Katrina. I was able to take those supplies with her to the Convoy warehouse and help her tour the building with the Convoy representative. I watched as the Convoy representative, who I know is part of receiving billions of dollars worth of goods, be so thankful to this little girl for her few boxes.
I am a better member of my community because of my experience with Convoy, and I look forward to many more years volunteering, carrying on — and passing on — the legacy my parents passed on to me. BM