Hope in Action
One of the greatest gifts you can give anyone doesn’t cost a penny. It’s respect, and it’s something that people struggling with poverty, addictions, mental illness or crime often don’t receive. With the help of our caring volunteers and staff, we try every day to treat the folks we serve with dignity.
In this issue, you’ll meet a young volunteer who writes eloquently about the respectful relationships she’s building with our guests. You can also learn about a resource program that aims to bring information to people “where they’re at.”
The RAP Room: Resources and respect
In our January issue, we introduced the WRAP (Wellness Resource Advocacy Program) Room, a new Community Centre program that helps to connect our guests with community resources. The room’s name has since been shorted to RAP but the number of people using the room has grown, thanks in part to referrals from other agencies.
“We recently had four new families come to us from the House of Friendship, St. John’s Kitchen and the YWCA,” says Boris Emanuel, the ROHCC’s Program Coordinator.
Guests visit the RAP Room for many reasons. They may need assistance finding employment and housing or help navigating government services. But RAP doesn’t just provide information. It gives guests the tools they need to advocate for themselves.
Boris remembers one couple who were struggling with mental illness.
“They were having a very difficult time getting their doctor to prescribe the medication they needed. We were able to walk them through the process and show them how to set up appointments, take notes and make prioritized lists of things that they wanted to discuss with their doctor.”
Using these skills, the couple were able to get the correct medication and now feel confident approaching their doctor to discuss their health issues.
“And that is not because we did it for them; instead, we found a way to work with their strengths to help them get what they needed,” Boris says.
The RAP Room’s convenient evening hours and drop-in format (private appointments are also available) are aimed at making the service as relaxed and respectful as possible.
“We want to make this a place where people feel comfortable,” Boris says. “Guests can grab a coffee in the dining room and then come and ask questions or just sit down and look through the resources. They don’t have to fill out an application to use the RAP Room and they don’t necessarily have to give us information they’re not comfortable providing.”
“You shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to get help. RAP is about meeting people where they are. You can access the resources when and as you need them to get where you want to go.”
An award-winning volunteer finds her place
That’s how volunteer Eva describes her first visit to Ray of Hope. The 16-year-old was serving a meal at the Community Centre with her high school club and seeing people her own age living on the streets surprised and moved her. She found herself contrasting her own upbringing with the lives of the young people she was serving.
“I could never begin to understand the experiences many have had growing up without familial or financial support, facing issues like homelessness, abuse and drug addiction, while my own childhood was filled with family trips, piano lessons and summer camps. I struggled to find my place serving this group of people within which I felt like an outsider, almost ashamed of my own middle-class lifestyle.”
But despite her misgivings, she says “I felt God calling me back to spend more time here.”
That was more than a year ago and Eva is now a regular volunteer at the Monday afternoon drop-in. And recently, she became one of the recipients of the France-Anne Sweeney Foundation’s Making a Difference Award. This award recognizes local high school students who are working to make our community a better place.
Eva applied because the award included a $100 donation to the charity of her choice (we’re grateful that Eva chose Ray of Hope). Writing the application letter also allowed her to process her experiences as a volunteer and share them with others. In fact, Eva’s award has sparked conversations with friends and teachers about poverty and the things we can all do to fight it.
“It’s not hard to get involved,” Eva says. “I’d like to encourage everyone to spend some time with people who tend to get shut out. Get to know them, rather than avoiding them.”
In her application letter, Eva wrote: “I love spending time at Ray of Hope because people can have honest conversations about the struggles they are facing, without fear of being judged or shamed. Sadly, I have noticed that there are few places in our society where those struggling with poverty and addictions are treated with this kind of dignity.”
“Over the past couple of months, I’ve become friends with two young girls at the community centre who often run up to me, asking me to make a drink for them or play foosball. They are always positive, like to chat, and are excited to help out with anything that they can.
“I have realized that building a relationship with these girls gives me an opportunity to show others what it means to be cared for, appreciated, and loved.”
“So far, my experience at Ray of Hope has taught me more than any classroom, and I hope to continue to learn how to serve and grow in compassion and love for others.”
Thank you, Eva, for sharing your time and dedication with our guests!
When you give any of these items, you help to make life a little easier for struggling neighbours. Thank you!
Or provide meals for hungry people through our secure donation page.