Convoy of Hope
Podcast #44 — Aired October 9, 2014

What if you could turn your sadness into a world of hope? This week on BetterWorldians Radio we’ll discuss how a family tragedy inspired an organization that has now served 65 million people around the globe. Our guest is Dave Donaldson, the co-founder of Convoy of Hope, an international humanitarian-relief organization with a goal to bring help and hope to those who are impoverished, hungry and hurting. Donaldson will discuss how the power of hope can transform families and communities. Tune in every week to hear new guests share how they are making the world a better place and to learn how you can become a BetterWorldian!

 

 

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Dave Donaldson
Co-founder, Convoy of Hope
Author, Relentless - Pursuing a Life That Matters

Dave is the co-founder of Convoy of Hope, an international organization providing disaster relief, building supply lines, sponsoring Health and Job Fairs, drilling wells and the Nurturing Hope nutrition program. Since its inception in 1994, Convoy of Hope has helped over 50 million people worldwide. Dave also launched a global initiative for Convoy called HopeExperience where business, government and church leaders can spend one week abroad experiencing the culture, and exploring ways to lift people out of poverty. Donaldson is also President of Charity Awards International which celebrates public and private figures that devote themselves to working for others. He has coordinated White House briefings, roundtables and conference calls between community and government leaders and in 2003, was appointed to serve on his National Council for Mental Health and Substance Abuse and to chair the Faith-based Committee. Dave is the author of several books including: The Faith-based and Communit

Episode Transcript

Raymond Hansell
And on this week's episode of BetterWorldians Radio we are talking with Dave Donaldson, the co-founder of Convoy of Hope. Convoy of Hope is an international organization that provides disaster relief, sponsors Health and Job Fairs, and drills wells, among many other services. Since its inception in 1994, Convoy of Hope has helped over 65 million people worldwide. Dave has also launched a global initiative for Convoy called HopeExperience where business, government, and church leaders can spend one week abroad experiencing the culture and also exploring ways to lift people out of poverty. Dave is President of Charity Awards International which celebrates public and private figures that devote themselves to working for others. He has coordinated White House briefings, roundtables, and conference calls between community and government leaders, and in 2003 was appointed to serve on the National Council for Mental Health and Substance Abuse and to chair the Faith-based Committee. Dave is the author of several books including: The Faith-based and Community Initiative, The Compassion Revolution, and his newly released book Relentless Pursuing a Life that Matters. Dave earned his BA from Evangel University and Masters Degree from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. Dave, thanks so much for joining us today on BetterWorldians Radio.

Dave Donaldson
It's my pleasure.

Raymond Hansell
It's really great to have you on board. I'd like to start our interview with you by having you tell us a little bit about the catalyst for starting Convoy of Hope in the first place.

Dave Donaldson
Ray, in 1969 my parents were in Northern California and one night they were driving down the freeway and they were hit head-on by a drunk driver. Our dad was killed instantly, mother survived but they basically had to bend her body back together again. But people in the community from different sectors responded to our needs very tangibly providing food and clothing, and then eventually a family even opened up their home to four kids and even my mom when she got back on her feet.

Raymond Hansell
Oh my god. What an amazing start as a catalyst for that. So tell us about how that family that took you and your siblings in and how that changed your life.

Dave Donaldson
Well, we were pretty much passed from home to home, and then this family, the Davis', said that we'll take the kids in. And I recall walking up to a trailer, and that's where they lived - they didn't have much space but they had big hearts and as we approached the front door I wondered would this just be another stop along the way. Would they really want us and keep us? And as we entered that trailer, Bill Davis, the dad, gave us all hugs and he said you are with family and this is your home. And that four-letter word with meant that the Davis' were willing to not only share their space but they were willing to share in our sorrow, our pain, our anger. And as you know, that's what compassion means. It literally means to suffer with. So, as I mentioned, that became the catalyst for Convoy of Hope because we wanted to help others as we had been helped.

Raymond Hansell
M-hmm. That must have been a really meaningful experience for you, even way back then. What did it mean to your family to see these people rally around you in your time of hardship?

Dave Donaldson
It wasn't just the Davis'. Our dad had built this major fixer-upper and it was not even liveable. And I'll never forget at nine years of age showing up at this house one day, and this was before Habitat, and there were it was like an anthill of people doing an extreme makeover, painting, fixing the lawn. Inside, women were decorating. And I made a decision then that I wanted to be like those people. And the rest of the story is that the owner of the land that pretty much comprised most of that street one day showed up at the house, handed my mom a wooded sign, and he had cleared with the city to name the street Donaldson Court, named after our dad. So, to this day, that street is named Donaldson Court.

Raymond Hansell
With a rich legacy to boot in that name, isn't it? You know, I have to ask you, did your family also join you in your life's work back then and what was that like for them?

Dave Donaldson
It has been a family effort, kind of like what you're doing. We discovered after really months of pain that there was a path to healing and I call it grieving, gathering, giving. Grieving; there is a season to grieve. That's part of the natural healing. Gathering; the tendency is to go off and hide when you're hurt, but it's so important to gather with family and friends and support networks, but also to give back as wounded healers, and that was modeled by our mom who provided even a support group for widows and single moms.

Raymond Hansell
What were the early days like? I understand you actually began by handing out food from the back of a pickup truck.

Dave Donaldson
Well we began with mobilizing volunteers to primarily help churches, schools, and civic groups. And during that process, we found families that had empty pantries, their phones had run out, and so we decided to start providing food on a regular basis to supplement what these families had. And then out of that evolved into these larger community events - which I know we're going to talk about to provide an array of services.

Raymond Hansell
M-hmm. And what were some of your early aspirations or goals? What did you imagine that you could accomplish?

Dave Donaldson
I've been asked by the media, if I could do anything over again, what would I do over 20 years? I remember Walt Disney was asked if he could do anything over again, what would he do. And he laughed and replied I don't want to do it over again. It was a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, but we're grateful. But I think first I would say to be faithful and above reproach, to really serve with integrity, do what we say we're going to do. Many times you can output your coverage or the next donation becomes your mission, and it's so important to stay true to your calling, your mission, and to not throw the dart and then draw the target around it. But what are you truly called to do? And for us it was to feed the hungry. And we decided that we wanted to be the best possible at feeding hungry children. And then out of that we provided clean, safe water, women's empowerment, and then we had the capacity to respond to disasters.

Raymond Hansell
That's amazing how you've filled in so many of these gaps. I have to ask if you've ever heard the story at the end of Walt Disney's life. He actually was in a hospital bed speaking to his brother Roy the night that he died and he was mapping out on the ceiling tile above him how he was going to lay out the Walt Disney World Resort and Epcot down in Florida before it even began. And Roy just shook his head, couldn't believe it, and the next morning he had passed. So even up to the very end he was true to his vision of being a visionary and not dwelling on what's going to happen today, what's going to happen tomorrow. It was an amazing recounting. I don't know if you have ever heard that before.

Dave Donaldson
I have. I saw a documentary on him and I love that story.

Raymond Hansell
Yeah. So he truly followed his call to action, call to duty, and it sounds like you've followed that mission as well. Can you tell our listeners a little bit about an early moment when your family felt like you were really making a difference for people, people in need?

Dave Donaldson
Well, you know, there were many. You just see so many people representing corporate, the church, civic groups, government, that are mobilized to find a need and fill it. But one story that will always stand out - we were doing one of our community events which we provide food, medical screening, job fairs, and there was a woman and her daughter. And as they were leaving, I asked them if they had a good day and they said yes. And I asked them where they lived and they pointed in the direction behind this church. They said let us show you and so I followed them. And between this bus that was broken down and the church there was this makeshift shelter that they had been living in. So right there in the back of this church we literally had a homeless mom and daughter. And when that was brought to the attention of the church, it was alarming. The good news is that it became really a battle cry, a primary focus for that church to share the good news in both word and deed. I would say that that movement of hope, if you will, I've seen that across America and around the world and it's so inspiring.

Raymond Hansell
M-hmm. You know, another inspiring story I would like maybe for you to recount is what I saw in one of your videos, about the little boy who questioned you when he was lifted up and put on a bed and then looked around and asked you a question about where he was.

Dave Donaldson
Yeah, there was a young boy this is in Nairobi, Kenya who was picked up off the streets and taken into Kenya Kids Home. He was so weak he couldn't even walk. The director took him to one of the dormitory rooms, laid him on a bed, checked on him later in the evening and found the boy not lying on the bed but on the ground. He asked him, why aren't you sleeping in your bed? And the boy was scared. He had never had a bed. So in partnership with Convoy of Hope in providing the nutrition, the clean water, clothing, education - I was there several months later and this young boy asked me this question. He asked is this what they call heaven.

Raymond Hansell
Yeah. He actually thought he had arrived in heaven because it was so wonderful of an experience. That's an amazing story. We're going to take a break right now, but we'll talk more with Dave and my co-host MarySue when we come back. In the meantime, I want to tell you about our Kickstarter Campaign that is now funding at A Better World dot com slash Kickstarter. A Better World for Kids lets children have fun and make a difference through good deeds and positive thinking both in the online virtual world and in the real world. Additionally, A Better World for Kids has promised to pledge 10% of its post-campaign net profits to charities that help children. Please go to A Better World dot com slash Kickstarter to learn more and to help fund A Better World for Kids. We'll be right back.

Raymond Hansell
You're listening to BetterWorldians Radio. We're now speaking with Dave Donaldson, co-founder of Convoy of Hope, a non-profit that has helped more than 65 million people who are impoverished, hungry, and hurting. And now let me welcome back Dave and MarySue.

MarySue Hansell
Hi, Dave.

Dave Donaldson
Hello, MarySue.

MarySue Hansell
You know, some of the first big organized events Convoy of Hope held were the Community Outreach events. There have been close to about 1,000 from what I saw. Can you tell our listeners what those events are all about?

Dave Donaldson
We started down in Los Angeles and we were expecting about maybe 500 to 1,000 needy people from the community but we had over 5,000. At the time we provided groceries, haircuts, a little medical, but for the most part it was groceries. And let me just say that, for those listening that are looking to start non-profits, don't give up, because that first event was a disaster. We had a gentleman who was providing part of the talent, his name was Nick, and he was one of these power team guys that would break up phonebooks and bricks with his head.

MarySue Hansell
Oh geez.

Dave Donaldson
He got everybody yelling, Nick, Nick, Nick the Brick, and he tried breaking the bricks with his forehead and it knocked him out.

MarySue Hansell
Oh no!

Dave Donaldson
So there's our talent on the ground out cold. So when he came to he said let me finish. So for the grand finale he tried to run through two two-by-fours and something cracked and it wasn't the boards, it was his ribs.

MarySue Hansell
Wow.

Dave Donaldson
So that was our first event. And then from there it grew into larger and more organized, and as you mentioned, now close to 1,000 of such events in America and around the globe.

MarySue Hansell
Well you certainly had a lot of courage to continue after that first event. How do you select your guests of honor and why do you call them guests of honor. I thought that was a really nice, respectful name.

Dave Donaldson
It's an interesting thing how ideas come to you as an entrepreneur. I love the story of Henry Ford when he built his first automobile in his garage and then he couldn't get the car out of the garage, it wasn't wide enough, so he created a door, which today we call it garage door. For us, a lot of it has been learning as we go. A lot of the volunteers would wear sunglasses to protect their eyes, but the guests didn't have sunglasses and there wasn't eye contact. And so I think it was a member of our team said, you know, we've got to treat these people as guests of honor, and that's when I said, well, we can start with not wearing sunglasses and make eye contact. So that's how the idea came about.

MarySue Hansell
M-hmm. And that name stuck, huh?

Dave Donaldson
Go ahead.

MarySue Hansell
I was saying that name stuck.

Dave Donaldson
It stuck. And then, of course, that whole value of guests of honor and really raising people's dignity and not creating an environment of us and them, that certainly has become our motto. We promote these events through existing trusted entities like schools, social agencies, churches, civic groups, and we rely on them to do the vetting, but these events are open to the public. Anybody that has a need that wants to come, they're welcome to. The whole idea was to make sure that it was fun, that we have a huge kid's zone, medical screening as I mentioned, we have a counselling area that if people want to talk with somebody about their problems or needs, they'll also have a what I call not follow-up but swallow-up to make sure that people are integrated into existing services that are in their own backyard that can help them get on their feet.

MarySue Hansell
That's a beautiful wide range of services to the people. Besides all the services and goods that you give away during these outreach events, what do you hope that the guests take away from this emotionally?

Dave Donaldson
One story, MarySue, that I think best illustrates that is we were doing one of these events in Baltimore - and we had this in one of our videos - I interviewed a lady as she was leaving with her kids and she broke down, started crying, and she said I've been going through a lot but today is a good day. She said a pastor invited me to come to his church, I told him I don't have nice enough clothing to go to church, and he said God doesn't look at the outside, he looks at the inside. So this woman in this video, her face just lights up. And, again, it's an opportunity for her and her kids to have fun, for their needs to be met, but to raise her dignity and help her to see her value before a God of hope.

MarySue Hansell
That's wonderful. I also read that many of the guests of honor are also volunteers at the event. How does that work?

Dave Donaldson
There's an innate desire, and I'm sure that's a part of what you and your family are doing with A Better World, but tapping into that innate desire that people have to give. In fact, the poorest of the poor are sometimes the most generous, I think. And the Meso people in Northeastern India who are very poor, when they sit down to eat they take a hand of rice and put it in buckets, they collect those buckets and then they sell that rice in the market and give all the proceeds to help the poor. And events like we put on allow people to believe that they can move from dependency to sustainability and that they can become a contributor to a better world instead of just taking and consuming.

MarySue Hansell
That is great. That is great. To know that people who are suffering so much themselves actually volunteer and give to others. In 1998, Convoy of Hope responded to its very first disaster, which was that flooding in Del Rio, Texas after Tropical Storm Charley that I'm sure we all remember. Can you tell us about that?

Dave Donaldson
The organization, as I've mentioned, has grown organically, so to properly furnish these city-wide events we needed a fleet of trucks, warehousing procurement, we needed to hire experts in logistics. And so hurricanes like that - I think of Hurricane Mitch in 1998, 180 miles an hour, 11,000 killed, almost 3 million left homeless.

MarySue Hansell
Oh wow.

Dave Donaldson
And we had run out of warehouse space. And yet the need was so vast, and we already had boots on the ground, and so the local newspaper did a front page story about this non-profit called Convoy of Hope, turning away boots. As a result of that, a gentleman provided for us our warehouse that today is 300,000 square feet.

MarySue Hansell
Wow. And how many trucks did you say you had in the fleet of trucks?

Dave Donaldson
We now have close to 30 vehicles.

MarySue Hansell
That's excellent.

Dave Donaldson
And over 20 refrigerated tractor trailers; not just in our headquarters in Springfield, Missouri, but we have deployed at resource centers in strategic places in other countries.

MarySue Hansell
You know, since that first disaster, Convoy of Hope has responded to well over I think about 200.

Dave Donaldson
Yes.

MarySue Hansell
You know, what's it like to arrive on the scene? I mean, what do you even do first? I mean, I can't even imagine.

Dave Donaldson
We follow the FEMA Strategy, which is a 3-30-300. And, of course, this can grow based on the scale of the disaster. But three days of rescuing of bodies, animals, 30 days of response, emergency supplies, food, water, it could be clothing, blankets, and then recovery such as Joplin where a third of the town was wiped out by a tornado. And I can't adequately describe what that was like showing up there. But even to this day we're hoping to rebuild homes in Joplin, and Convoy of Hope was spotlighted on the finale of Extreme Makeover for our work there.

MarySue Hansell
Oh, really? I missed that particular show. Now do the folks have to get special training to be able to know what to do and how to act and to remain calm themselves?

Dave Donaldson
That's a great question because we've had disaster sites where hundreds of people, well-meaning people, have showed up and they can add to the disaster their confusion. And so we do work on training volunteers so they have a certification where we're working in conjunction with FEMA and the Red Cross, and there are always ways, though, for people to be used, whether it be debris removal. I think of the mud-outs that we did in Colorado with the flooding there which ended up saving people, you know, tens of thousands of dollars and saved their homes, because if that water continues to seep into the wood, then it destroys the foundation and then that house will be condemned by the insurance company. So people from the Colorado area helped us with that which was huge.

MarySue Hansell
Wow. That's just wonderful work that you do. Now one of my favorite programs I want to ask you to talk a little bit about is the Children's Feeding Program, and I think you're in 11 different countries. Can you tell us how that works and what you do there?

Dave Donaldson
It's currently we're at 145,000 children that receive nutritious food, clean water, and these are children that are enrolled in our program but also in schools and orphanages. And keep in mind that the need is vast. The number of children that die every day is equivalent to 30 jumbo jets crashing filled with kids. If you add the number of kids that will die this week because they lack clean water and nutritious food, it would fill the largest stadium in America, which is the University of Michigan, two times. So the needs are vast but we are working with the local communities to make sure that these kids - for example, in Haiti - don't die and that they have the proper nutrition, education, so that they can in turn become the hope for their country.

MarySue Hansell
Well I've read a little bit about that in your great book Relentless. I would definitely recommend our listeners purchase it. It has so many wonderful stories. Can you think of a great story that may be on your website or just in your memory about the Feeding Program, feeding the children?

Dave Donaldson
In my book that you mentioned, Relentless Pursuing a Life that Matters, I do, I share a lot of stories, and one is of Patrick. I was in Haiti prior to the earthquake; we were already feeding about 10,000 kids a day. And as we were feeding the kids, I looked over and I saw this young boy peering through the fence. I went over and asked him how long it had been since he had eaten anything and he put up two days, it had been two days since he had eaten any food. So I invited him in. And as I invited him in to eat, I looked at that fence and now it was filled with I would say well over 100 kids peering through hoping to get in. So that's the challenge and the joy to make sure that no kid, no hungry kid, is left outside the fence. Let's invite them in. We have plenty of resources. MarySue, we have plenty. In fact, the amount of food that is wasted every day is equivalent to filling the Rose Bowl every day. There is plenty of food in this world. It's a matter of organization, connecting the resource to the need, and making sure that people discover, really, a heart of generosity.

MarySue Hansell
You know, before my segment ends, I wanted to ask you a little bit about your programs with women. I know that Convoy of Hope really focuses on empowering women. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Dave Donaldson
Yeah. A lot of it is on our website and I would encourage your listeners to go there because that is one of the most effective programs, even USAID has said that. But you train a woman, you train a nation. In Ethiopia, Tanzania, El Salvador, Honduras, Philippines, we are helping women through peer-oriented, co-operative savings groups we call women's clubs and we're helping them develop not only the skills but also their own bank accounts. And a great story about that is Auntie Anne, Anne Beiler, who has been on your show before.

MarySue Hansell
Yes. Yes.

Dave Donaldson
I took her - yes, I took her to Ethiopia, along with many other business leaders. And we were right there in the middle of the Lideta slums, one of the worst in the world, and a young lady who is part of our women's empowerment program was there making chips. She had her own business. So the average woman in Ethiopia makes like two to three birr. This young lady was making over 300 birr.

MarySue Hansell
Wow.

Dave Donaldson
And so there we had an Auntie Anne right in the middle of a slum in Ethiopia.

MarySue Hansell
Yes, that's how we found out about Convoy of Hope. Auntie Anne had told us about that and we really wanted to talk to you folks because she made it sound so wonderful. And I think my segment is ending now. So thanks very much.

Dave Donaldson
You're very welcome.

Raymond Hansell
I just want to do a shout-out. We don't usually do this, but if Nick, Nick the Brick is out there somewhere in the world, we may have an opportunity for some entertainment somewhere down the line. In the meantime, we need to take another break. When we come back, we'll talk more with Dave Donaldson, co-founder of Convoy of Hope. And as a reminder, our Kickstarter Campaign is now funding at A Better World dot com slash Kickstarter. A Better World for Kids lets kids have fun and make a difference through good deeds and positive thinking both in the online virtual world game and in the real world. Additionally, A Better World for Kids has promised to pledge 10% of its post-campaign net profits to charities that help kids. So go to A Better World dot com slash Kickstarter to learn more and help fund A Better World for Kids. We'll be right back.

Gregory Hansell
Hi, Dave. This is Greg.

Dave Donaldson
Hi, Greg.

Gregory Hansell
You know, you have this wonderful book you wrote called Relentless Pursuing a Life that Matters. Can you tell us a bit about that book and its message?

Dave Donaldson
First of all, thank you. The premise of Relentless Pursuing a Life that Matters is that we all want to be something to make the world a better place.

Gregory Hansell
M-hmm.

Dave Donaldson
But many people are straight-jacketed because they're overcome by the size of the need and they end up not doing anything.

Gregory Hansell
M-hmm.

Dave Donaldson
For some, they don't know where to begin. Others have tried and they've been burned out. But Relentless is an inspirational and practical guide to show people how to join this movement of hope wherever they live and to make a difference around the world.

Gregory Hansell
I love the story that you tell about I think you were sitting on a plane with a young man who wanted to become an engineer and you told him the story of Steve Jobs, you know, saying about the soda water. You said Steve Jobs was wrong. You know, you can actually change the world. So, soda water. You can change the world and be an engineer. You know, we believe at A Better World that we're trying to help everyone make the world a better place in all the different ways they can. So thank you for that message. I think that's really wonderful.

Dave Donaldson
Yeah, I put that in the first chapter, number one reason why the relentless give us hope. In the first chapter, from the perspective of the poor, why the relentless give us hope. And number one is you can sell sugar water and change the world.

Gregory Hansell
M-hmm.

Dave Donaldson
Whatever you're doing can be used to make a difference.

Gregory Hansell
So tell us about what you mean, you know, that one can be relentless. About what it means to be relentless.

Dave Donaldson
I believe that we're all made in God's image, and by God's very nature, he is generous. And you look at this Earth, he could have just created this Earth and that would have been generous enough. Instead, he created constellation after constellation that we'll perhaps never discover.

Gregory Hansell
M-hmm.

Dave Donaldson
So you don't have to go out and look to be generous; it's already in you because we're made in his image.

Gregory Hansell
M-hmm.

Dave Donaldson
And when we practice acts of kindness, then we are actually growing closer to God. I believe the closer you are to God, the more fulfilled and meaningful your life will become. That's why I say, if you want to live, then give.

Gregory Hansell
Yeah.

Dave Donaldson
When people tap into that generosis, they can't help but become relentless for making the world a better place.

Gregory Hansell
M-hmm. M-hmm. Yeah, actually, you talk about that attitude in your book, if you want to live, then give. You talk about it early on. And you also talk about - in a chapter that I loved - the richest person in the cemetery. Tell us a little bit more about that adage and how it works out.

Dave Donaldson
One of the sectors that I feel is the fastest growing as it relates to generosity is corporate. I had one business leader come up to me and he said I can lose everything tomorrow and it wouldn't matter. And my response to him was that's good. But the question is not about losing it, it's how you're going to use it.

Gregory Hansell
Yeah.

Dave Donaldson
And we are working with business leaders, high net worth people, that have lived most of their life consuming and gaining, but many have made a decision that they don't want to become the richest person in the cemetery.

Gregory Hansell
Yeah.

Dave Donaldson
And so they're seeing their expertise, their resources, as assets, entrepreneurial assets that could be used to bring forth solutions to the world's greatest problems.

Gregory Hansell
M-hmm. M-hmm. And you also talk about how to become rich by sharing, and there's a huge emphasis on sharing in that same chapter. Can you tell a bit about that?

Dave Donaldson
As I've already mentioned, I believe that the most joyful and meaningful and people that go to bed each night that are fulfilled are those that, first of all, are grateful for what they have, but are using what I call the practice of leaving a corner of their field. In the Bible there are many good principles and patterns, if you will, for meeting the world's needs. One is leave a corner of your field. Now we all have fields and that comprises our time, talent, resources. It might be a big field, it might be small. It doesn't matter. We are to leave a corner of that for the poor. And when we do, when we leave that corner, I believe that God causes that let's say 80% that you have left to exceed the 100%. He multiplies it like he did the loaves of bread and the fish. And I believe that God's place is on this planet to accomplish the extraordinary, and that comes by sharing. I love the movie with Tom Hanks, you know, where he is on the deserted island. Do you recall that film?

Gregory Hansell
Yeah, Cast Away. I love that.

Dave Donaldson
Yeah, Cast Away. So he's on this island and the FedEx boxes wash up on the shore and he uses them to survive. As I'm watching this film I thought, now if there were other inhabitants on that island that needed some of those items as well to survive, would I share them? And I think all of us would say of course we would.

Gregory Hansell
Sure.

Dave Donaldson
Well we live on a global island, it's called Earth. And we're not to feel guilty for what we have. That's not the point. But out of a heart of gratitude, we can share what we're blessed with to make sure that people live but also so that they have an opportunity, as I mentioned, to move from dependency to sustainability, and to become wounded healers themselves.

Gregory Hansell
M-hmm. M-hmm. No, I think that's exactly right. We put a big emphasis on gratitude here in our Better World game and that's a message that, you know, they say gratitude is the mother of all virtues and we believe that. But also related to gratitude is hope, and hope is obviously a very important piece of the Convoy of Hope puzzle. Tell us about what hope means to you and why that's part of the name.

Dave Donaldson
Well, I'm sounding like a preacher giving a lot of sermons. I'm sharing with you what I believe.

Gregory Hansell
Please do.

Dave Donaldson
I believe what the Bible says that faith is the substance of things hoped for and that the true root system of hope is faith. It's faith in God. He created you. He wants the best for you. In my life, I've experienced how he's turned tragedy into really helping millions of people. He doesn't waste anything. And when our hope is rooted in God, then there will be an innate optimism that things will get better. And Mother Teresa, you know, she put it well. She said God will not put on you more than you can bear. I just wish he wouldn't trust me so much. I think all of us can relate to that. That God is with us and he wants us to have the kind of faith in him where hope can't help but be shared in very tangible ways.

Gregory Hansell
M-hmm. M-hmm

Dave Donaldson
And when somebody is a recipient, whether it be food, clothing, time, love, put your arm around them, then what happens is that person, like we experienced with Bill Davis, is that, you know, I must be of value for them to invest in me like this. And many times that becomes the seed of hope that grows into something very beautiful.

Gregory Hansell
M-hmm. Absolutely. So Convoy of Hope celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. And I wanted to ask you looking back on the last 20 years, what are you most proud of?

Dave Donaldson
First of all, I'm proud of our staff, partners, donors, our corporations that have been generous with donating goods that they could sell for profit, churches that have provided in many ways relief, boots on the ground when disaster strikes.

Gregory Hansell
M-hmm.

Dave Donaldson
I'm proud of really this army of compassion. But I would say, personally, I just my hope would be that I will live for an audience of one, and that when I stand before the Lord, he'll say well done. You have used your life to help others.

Gregory Hansell
M-hmm. Where do you imagine the organization will go in the coming years? How will it grow and expand?

Dave Donaldson
Our goal is, first of all, to provide food, nutrition, for one million children, so to grow from 150,000. And right now we have 100,000 children that are enrolled in our program that are waiting to receive this nutritious food. And, as you know, for many of these kids it's the only meal that they will receive that day. And so it's critical to their education. I've had teachers say to me that without the nutrition, the kids, you know, their learning is stunted and some fall from their desks. Water; we've got to make sure that they have clean, safe water so they don't contract diseases like cholera. We know in places there are places where young women are having to go out and fetch water. They're leaving the security of their village and many times they're attacked and raped. So we want to expand our whole water initiatives. We are right now expanding our disaster response command center so we can respond even quicker and more effectively. Train and mobilize millions of volunteers that have expertise to bring solutions. And we are in the process of continuing to decentralize, where we are empowering farmers, like in Haiti. Over 1,000 farmers that have seen 100% increase in their yields and that have provided now 3 million meals for their own citizens. So these are some of the goals, the vision that we believe. If people continue to give and serve and that continues to grow, then so will our capacity to serve others.

Gregory Hansell
Well those are really ambitious goals. How can people, our listeners, get involved and volunteer?

Dave Donaldson
Our website that you mentioned earlier, Convoy of Hope dot org. Convoy of Hope dot org has a wealth of information and spells out opportunities for individuals to serve with Convoy of Hope, but also feedONE. FeedONE is our initiative for college students. Mother Teresa said if you can't feed 100 then feed one.

Gregory Hansell
That's right.

Dave Donaldson
So you can feed a child for a month for just $10.00 a month, but also there are opportunities to go to these countries and to be trained and to help serve.

Gregory Hansell
Well, you know, I want to ask you one last question as we close up. We have about two minutes before we have to end my segment. I ask a version of this every week, and let me put it to you this way. You talk in your book about making our dash count, right? And that's the dash between our birth date and our end date or date of death. What's your vision for world change by Convoy of Hope? Now what I mean is how do you hope people can be changed by internalizing the messages and values of your organization?

Dave Donaldson
I think one of the most revealing stories - again, in the Bible - here you have this multitude or hungry, and Jesus, he's about to teach, and he's moved with compassion because of their need. So he tells his disciples to go and find some food for the hungry people and they find this young lad who has got loads of bread and fish.

Gregory Hansell
Sure.

Dave Donaldson
Now this young boy had a choice. He could have gone off and had a good lunch, but it would have been an ordinary lunch. Instead, he gave what he had to the disciples, the disciples gave it to Jesus, and he multiplied it and there was more than enough to feed the hungry. And that's the choice between us every day.

Gregory Hansell
M-hmm.

Dave Donaldson
We can have a good life. We can have good things. There's nothing wrong with having good things. But if we want to experience an extraordinary life and realize that we were put here by an extraordinary God to accomplish the extraordinary wherever we're at and give it away and watch it grow.

Raymond Hansell
That's an amazing story. This has been an amazing episode on BetterWorldians Radio. Before we go, Dave, we'd just like to commend you for the good work that you're doing personally and for the Convoy of Hope as a great example of a BetterWorldian organization.

Dave Donaldson
Thank you so much.

Raymond Hansell
You're very, very welcome. For our listeners, please don't just pay attention to these stories and where they are right now and what they are doing right now, but remember where they started. They started very humbly, very small, and they started with one single step. You can start today and you can begin that same journey in giving back as they did many years ago. You can find out more about Convoy of Hope by going to Convoy of Hope dot org. Dave, once again, thank you for joining us on BetterWorldians Radio. Please join us next week for a special encore presentation of our show with Vetri Foundation founder Marc Vetri. Marc talks about Vetri Foundation's dedication to teach children about healthy eating and lifestyle choices. To find out about our upcoming Kickstarter Campaign for A Better World for Kids, you can go to A Better World dot com slash Kickstarter. As we end our show each week, we like to share our BetterWorldians vision. We strive to make the world a better place by encouraging the very best in everyone. We focus on positive thinking, positive values, and positive actions. In short, our vision is to bring out the BetterWorldian in everyone so that we can all make it a better world. Until next time, everyone, please be a BetterWorldian.