Friday, February 18, 2005
SMALL IS BIG WHEN IT COMES TO
SUPER BOWL OUTREACH
By Michael Ireland
JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA (ANS) -- The
smallest city to ever host a Super Bowl may have proven that it has the
Through a partnership
between Convoy of Hope and The Inspiration Networks, churches and
organizations in Jacksonville, Florida, joined together to host the
first of three Super Bowl-related Convoy of Hope outreaches. (Pictured:
A young volunteer fills a bag of groceries to be given away to the
honored guests.Courtesy: Convoy of Hope).
During this outreach 176 Churches and Organizations, 3108 Volunteers,
6032 Guests and, 211 Respondents were involved, according to a press
release obtained by ASSIST News Service (ANS).
Pastor Garry Wiggins, outreach coordinator, didn’t want to miss an
opportunity when the world would be watching.
“We wanted to show them Jacksonville represents more than just a
beautiful city…we are a city where churches and businesses regularly
come together with one heart. A city that truly cares about each
other,” he said.
With the promise of perfect weather, 3,000
volunteers (the largest number of any outreach) served more than 6,000
of the community’s disenfranchised and overlooked. (Pictured:
Over 3,000 volunteers gather for last minute instructions. Courtesy:
Convoy of Hope).
Guests enjoyed job and health fairs, haircuts, a Kids’ Zone, a gospel
concert with national recording artists, and the distribution of
thousands of pounds of food. Wachovia Bank and Bank of America
contributed $250,000 for guests’ credit repair and free one-year
mortgages for the first 25 people who qualified after starting the
process at the event.
Brentwood Park, site of the outreach, is considered one of the poorest
areas of Jacksonville; it also has one of the only flat spaces large
enough to hold the expansive event. In an effort to control the
exceedingly high crime rate, a large housing complex was recently
leveled — a growing trend among large cities.
The Convoy of Hope outreach wasn’t the only promise of better things to
come for the blighted community’s residents.
The NFL announced plans for a permanent $2 million youth center, Youth
Education Town, on the outreach site. YET Centers are an after-school
educational and recreational facility designed to enhance academics,
physical fitness and job-related skills for disadvantaged youth.
Established by the NFL in 1993, YET Centers remain in each Super Bowl
city long after fans depart.
Four-time Heavyweight Champion Evander Holyfield
attended the Convoy of Hope and expressed his appreciation.
(Pictured: Four-time Heavyweight Champion, Evander Holyfield spoke
to the outreach guests and volunteers. Courtesy: Convoy of Hope).
“This is a wonderful event for Jacksonville!” he said.
Holyfield himself was touched by the outreach.
“I am especially impressed by the multiracial aspect; when we can get
different races and cultures together, helping one another, God is
The cross-denominational, citywide response brought 114 churches and 62
organizations together to help meet the immediate needs of
“Having the NFL sanctioning sets this event apart from anything we’ve
ever done,” said Michael Redmon, National Director for the Convoy of
“We appreciate the NFL recognizing the magnitude in scope and benefits
to the City of Jacksonville and giving Convoy of Hope an official
The NFL has never before sanctioned an event of this kind.
Convoy of Hope has committed to two more Super Bowl events — the 2006
Super Bowl XL in Detroit, Michigan and the 2007 Super Bowl XLI in
To find out the latest news about Convoy of Hope, and to see its
schedule of upcoming outreaches, visit www.convoyofhope.org
|** Michael Ireland is an
international British freelance journalist. A former reporter with a
London newspaper, Michael is the Chief Correspondent for ASSIST News
Service of Garden Grove, CA. Michael immigrated to the United States in
1982 and became a US citizen in Sept., 1995. He is married with two
children. Michael has also been a frequent contributor to UCB Europe, a
British Christian radio station.