Kathryn Roy grew up literally walking the path with Church World Service (CWS) through the annual Crop Walk, an annual event that raises funds for local food banks.
“Through CWS Crop Walks I learned to reach out and help others that are hungry.”
After serving seven years as an organizer for the event, Kathryn traveled in 1999 to Senegal and The Gambia with CWS. She felt so privileged to go, that “when we returned we realized we had a responsibility to share what we had experienced. We wanted other to be able to help those in need.”
It was then that she and fellow traveler, Pauline Miles along with MaryAnn McGeady began in partnership with CWS Harvest of Hope (HoH). Harvest of Hope is an annual event that raises funds to aid “thousands of people in Africa and around the world living in hunger and poverty. Support also assists in reducing health and social disparities throughout the greater Denver Metro area. Additionally, it raises awareness of the Crop Hunger Walks, and it works in cooperation with It Takes a Village.
This year this unique African themed event will present Deborah Katina, recipient of Kenya’s 2008 Head of State Commendation Award for her instrumental work with women and in bringing new, fresh water resources through the construction of sand dams to the region.
Ms. Katina’s message of making clean water sources available to people is more than simple convenience; availability of water affects a wide spectrum of life including health, opportunity for women, education for children, peace among different communities and overall prosperity to African communities. This year’s event will be held Thursday October 8, 2009 atTemple Emanuel, 51 Grape Street, Denver, at 5:30 p.m.
What do you recall most vividly of your trip to Senegal and The Gambia?
People gathered there for hours, awaiting our arrival. When we met them they chanted over and over, “Never Die, Never Die.” In earlier years CWS had gone to the region and initiated a program of planting the Morenga tree, that looks like big bushes and every part of the tree is useful in some way. For instance, the leaf can be made into flour. The people were so grateful, so thankful. Working in partnership with the people of these villages was a life-changing event for me.
When did you found Harvest of Hope?
The first year was in 2002. Originally we imagined it to be a small dinner for 20 to 30 people. But then Senator George McGovern, who was the United Nations Ambassador to the Hungry, agreed to come and speak, and suddenly we were organizing a huge event. None of us knew what we were doing, but we knew God was in charge. It was a great success.
Where are Harvest of Hope funds sent in Africa?
There is a different focus each year. Through the guidance of established sources of CWS, we look to find where funds are most needed. Over the years we have supported causes that affect HIV patients, AIDS orphans, water, school safety zones, and Lost Boys of Sudan refugees. It is a unique challenge to cull over material and decide where our efforts will make the greatest impact.
You mentioned that Harvest of Hope also supports CWS and It Takes a Village.
CWS and HoH both work on he same principle that 25% of raised funds should remain in the local community. People want to see local organizations supported. Partnering with It Takes a Village has brought both organizations useful resources.
How is HoH managed?
We are a total volunteer organization. It takes a lot of effort and care to plan, organize and present this special event. It includes organizing a dinner for hundreds of people, gathering unique items for the silent and live auction, connecting with the community, and mostly, educating others about what HoH accomplishes across the world and in our own neighborhoods. But it is all worth the effort in the end. It’s a fun evening that is so very rewarding.
What is your hope for HoH?
That through HoH people will make a connection with Africa and will search for answers to help. Our goal is after joining us at HoH that people feel like they have traveled to Africa so that they will want to donate to causes, advocate for others and educate people about what they have learned. People find that there is a recognition and celebration of the hundreds of cultures throughout Africa.
Where do you think you learned to volunteer?
My parents; my dad has a true belief “to love your neighbor as yourself,” so you should never have more than your neighbor. They are my heroes; at 68 and 70 years old they were missionaries to Columbia. I’ve always had a passion for internal help because here in the U.S. we don’t have to see the hungry and sick people of the world. I’ve always tried to see, and to help in whatever way I can. HoH is an answer to that need.
You are currently at Regis University, working on a Masters of Non-Profit Management, why with your busy schedule did you decide to work toward this degree?
Because I’m motivated to see how a group like HoH can make major changes for the better. I know there is more out there, and I want to take working for causes to the next level. There are so many missions out there; I want to make a career of working in non-profit.