Hope in Action
“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference and you have to decide what kind of a difference you want to make.” — Jane Goodall
This month, in honour of National Volunteer Week, we recognize people like you, who are making a difference to hungry, homeless and hurting people in our community. Read on to find out how we’re thanking the volunteers who make our programs and services possible. And since April is also Earth Month, learn about our efforts to make the best use of the resources you provide. #reducereuserecycle #goodneighbours
Toward a cleaner, greener neighbourhood
Thanks to generous donors like you, Ray of Hope is able to feed 150-250 hungry people every day of the year. That’s an amazing gift and we recognize the need to be good stewards of the resources you provide and good neighbours in the community that supports us.
Sometimes there are challenges. For instance, we’ve had an ongoing problem with litter left behind by Community Centre guests, including the Styrofoam cups we provide for takeout coffee. The cups often blow onto properties nearby, upsetting our neighbours (and rightly so). Plus, the cups are neither compostable nor cheap.
After consultation with our community partners, we’ve found a more economical and Earth-friendly solution. We now use ceramic mugs, donated to the ROHCC by both individuals and our partners at local thrift shops, including MCC’s Thrift on Kent, Value Village, Mission Thrift Store and Worth a Second Look.
This has reduced the litter somewhat and according to Jess Van Es, the ROHCC’s Director, most guests have responded positively to the change.
“We were really low on mugs the other night, so I pulled out some of the last few Styrofoam cups we had in stock. And one of the guests was all over it right away, ‘Why are you using these? Don’t you know how bad these are for the environment?’”
And while some mugs do disappear, most guests are careful to return them to the ROHCC when they’ve finished their coffee.
The move away from Styrofoam is just one of the ways we’re trying to make the best use of your gifts while protecting the Earth.
We’ve replaced traditional light bulbs in the ROHCC and our office with LED lighting. We compost food scraps. And if you were one of the 600+ people who visited the ROHCC on the Coldest Night of the Year, you may have noticed that we used biodegradeable bowls and cups (but only because we don’t have enough plates to serve that many people!).
We also have other initiatives in the works that we hope will benefit our neighbourhood and the people living in it.
We still have more work to do on the litter problem. At the moment, staff pick up garbage on Ray of Hope property and nearby, but we hope to soon have regular community cleanup sessions. (This would be a great opportunity for anyone who likes to work outdoors, especially if you need to complete volunteer hours.)
And speaking of volunteers, we’re excited that students from Rockway Mennonite Collegiate will be joining us on May 7 as part of their annual Envirathon/Servathon event. (Check out their amazing video—complete with drone footage—highlighting last year’s activities!)
The students will spend the day cleaning the garden beds located behind the former Ray of Hope property at 851 King Street East. Once this is complete, we plan to invite people to create a community garden or cultivate individual plots.
These are all efforts to conserve the resources you’ve entrusted to us and contribute to a greener neighbourhood.
As Jess notes, “We want to be good stewards of the Earth while we’re serving people.”
Recognizing our wonderful volunteers
You’ll find them dishing up hot meals in the Community Centre, playing hockey with young men in our custody facilities, preparing groceries for The Marketplace, or helping new arrivals to Canada practice their English. They share their skills in carpentry, music, crafts and so much more. They’re Ray of Hope volunteers and without them, we couldn’t serve the hundreds of men, women, and youth who rely on our services.
In fact, this past year 2,100 people contributed more than 35,500 volunteer hours to Ray of Hope!
To thank all the people who share their time and talents with us, Volunteer Services Manager Ken Wideman and Volunteer Administrative Assistant Jaime Wright have been trying to connect with all our volunteers.
“We’re making a special effort this year to say thanks to volunteers throughout the month,” Ken says. “We know we’re not getting everybody, but we’re trying. We want you to know that your service is noticed and appreciated.”
During National Volunteer Week (April 15-21), Jaime and Ken visited volunteers during each Community Centre shift, bringing pizza for a post-shift snack. (Welcome Home volunteers will be treated to a pizza party in a few weeks time.)
Meal teams received a box of chocolate mints with a note thanking them for their “Commit mint, Encourage mint, Invest mint and Involve mint.”
In addition, all volunteers received small gifts, like Tim Horton’s gift cards. And thanks to a donation of tickets from Drayton Entertainment, some volunteers will be able to take in a free show.
One distinguished group of volunteers will also have the opportunity to influence future programming. The Millennium Club consists of volunteers who have each given more than 1,000 hours of service to the organization. And during a special brainstorming session next week, they’ll sit down with staff to share their thoughts and ideas as Ray of Hope plans its future.
“We’re really looking forward to saying thank you, not just by handing out slices of pizza, but also by saying ‘we want to hear what you have to say,” Ken says. ” Talk to us, share your thoughts and your vision and your passion and your concerns and we’ll see what can happen out of that.’”