“I could either spend the rest of my life asking why bad things happen or focus on what I could do to make a difference.”
Hal Donaldson, ’79 Journalism, was fresh out of San Jose State and working as a ghostwriter when an assignment took him to Calcutta, India. Upon arriving, Donaldson’s hosts indicated there was someone they wanted him to meet: Mother Teresa. “She asked me what I was doing to help the poor and suffering,” he recalls, “and I had to answer ‘Nothing.’ She responded, ‘Everyone can do something.’”
It was this admonition, says Donaldson, together with the kindnesses shown to him after losing his father as a boy of 12 and a closer reading of the Bible in college, that ultimately gave rise to Convoy of Hope, a faith-based nonprofit founded by Donaldson and his family in 1994.
Convoy of Hope began as an international initiative to feed children, says Donaldson, and has since expanded into a community relief and disaster response at home and abroad. In the past 20 years, the organization has served over 80 million people in need and distributed over $712 million worth of food and supplies.
“In the early days, I was haunted by the reality of so much pain and suffering in the world,” Donaldson concedes. “Then I realized that I could either spend the rest of my life asking why bad things happen or focus on what I could do to make a difference.”
Many are following Donaldson’s lead. Convoy of Hope has experienced a huge uptick in volunteers over the past year or so, and people nationwide are pushing for a revolution of kindness, an effort that Donaldson supports in his latest book, Your Next 24 Hours: One Day of Kindness Can Change Everything.
Whatever Convoy of Hope accomplishes, says Donaldson, is due in part to his time at San Jose State. “I came to college from a welfare family at a formative time in my life. I had a lot of questions, but the campus community was accepting, the professors were nurturing, and by the time I graduated, I was a different guy.”