ARLINGTON — Nearly 5,000 bags of groceries, 4,000 hot meals, 240 haircuts, 180 family portraits, 74 physicals, 85 vision tests and 66 dental checks.
Those were among the numbers tallied during the Convoy of Hope Snohomish County Community Event on Sept. 16. The event was at the Arlington Municipal Airport. About 1,300 volunteers provided a variety of free services to 2,857 guests.
The services were largely meant to help the working poor, said Ilsa Chigbrow, event coordinator and outreach director for LIFEchurch360.
Convoy of Hope is an international organization that provides services to those in need all over the world. The church has worked with Convoy for years, and this year decided to do a large community event. The event also is known as Day of Hope.
“This was a great opportunity to get a lot of the churches in North County on the same page, not only for this event, but so we can continue to work together,” Chigbrow said.
There were 65 organizations and businesses involved. Of those, 21 were churches.
When LIFEchurch360 contacted Jake’s House Church about getting involved, it was a no-brainer, said Judi Johnston, a pastor there.
“Convoy of Hope. What a great name,” she said. “They trucked in hope. People interacted with hope that day.”
There was a job and career area with resume help and mock interviews. Free medical and dental appointments were offered, along with vouchers for those who didn’t have enough time Saturday. Children and adults could get haircuts, and children also could get shoes. There were family portraits.
“That was really cool to watch,” Chigbrow said. “A lot of these families had never had a portrait taken together before because it just isn’t a priority for them when they’re dealing with rent and bills and utilities.”
Local resource centers offered information on where else to find help, and there were experts on veterans services. Guests and volunteers got a hot meal at the event. Bags of groceries were sent home, too. A nonprofit taught women about self-screening for breast cancer, the “kid zone” offered games and activities for families, and a nutrition area provided smoothies and information about eating healthy on a budget.
At one tent, people could fill out information for follow-up conversations and volunteers offered to pray with them.
Johnston said the beauty of the event was that it went beyond meeting immediate needs and built connections between people and organizations. Volunteers worked hard, but the day was filled with laughter and joy, she said.
The goal is to do such an event every other year, Chigbrow said. It takes about a year of planning, and in the gap years, churches could focus on other projects and review feedback to learn what services should be added or expanded.
“It was great working alongside other churches and volunteers,” Chigbrow said. “One of the main focuses of this event was to show what we can do together that we couldn’t accomplish on our own.”
Johnston agreed that the teamwork was something special. It showed how powerful a community can be when it comes together, she said.
“It’s hard to beat the strength of unity, isn’t it?”
Kari Bray: 425-339-3439; firstname.lastname@example.org.