Hope in Action
At Ray of Hope, we’re grateful for every dollar and every volunteer hour that allows us to help one more guest or serve one more meal. Every act of generosity helps. But there are some people who go above and beyond. Maybe you’re one of them: the volunteer who shows up every week (like Jessica, below) or the person who’s first in line to register for our fundraising events (like our faithful Golf Classic golfers, also below). To you, we say an extra special thank you for always being there when we need you!
A talent for connecting: Jessica Y.
We love recognizing our dedicated Ray of Hope volunteers! This month, meet Jessica, a Community Centre hospitality team leader.
In 2016, Jessica was looking for an opportunity to serve homeless people. She found that opportunity at Ray of Hope’s Community Centre (ROHCC). Two years later, she’s completed more than 210 hours of service and serves as team leader.
From her first shift, ROHCC staff appreciated Jessica’s willingness to take the initiative to complete tasks – from welcoming guests and collecting their meal tickets, to helping them access shower and laundry services, to simply chatting with them.
That willingness made her a natural fit for the team leader role, a position she’s excelled in, says Ken Wideman, Ray of Hope’s Volunteer Services Manager.
“Jessica knows what it takes to run a community centre shift, and she will step in where she is needed,” Ken says.
Not that Jessica’s job is always easy.
“When there are multiple events or requests happening at once, sometimes I have to multitask or decide which one to prioritize first while making sure each request is taken care of,” she says.
And as in any place where you have large groups of people living under stress or coping with mental illness and addiction, there will sometimes be arguments between guests or medical emergencies. In urgent situations like these, Ken says, Jessica supports staff, backing them up in whatever way is necessary.”
But volunteering at the ROHCC is not only about challenges.
“Being able to connect on a personal level with the guests and the volunteer team is the most rewarding experience,” Jessica says. “It fosters meaningful relationships and creates a sense of belonging which is difficult to find anywhere else.”
Jessica’s talent for making connections shows in the way she helps new volunteers adjust.
“She makes them feel welcomed and at home, while ensuring that they feel confident in their responsibilities,” Ken says. “She also builds relationships with some guests who may not connect with other volunteers,” he adds. “Jessica makes them feel loved and cared for.”
What advice would Jessica give to other people who might want to volunteer with Ray of Hope?
“If you think you have nothing to give, simply listen and don’t forget to smile,” she says. “You’ll never know how much it means to someone else.”