Hope in Action
Did you know that because of you, many of the people we serve at Ray of Hope are not just surviving, they’re learning to thrive? Take Tom, a guest who, in the space of eight months, has gone from “not caring about anything” to being an active volunteer with a talent for organizing fundraising events.
Or the participants in our Residential youth addictions program; they’re experiencing the positive feelings that come, not from substances, but from learning, growing and giving back. As you read these stories, we hope you’ll realize the very real impact your support has. Thank you!
A Warrior gives back
Eight months ago, Tom didn’t care if he lived or died. He was battling depression and alcohol and living on the streets.
But today, Tom is an active Ray of Hope volunteer and the driving force behind a recent car wash to help raise funds for equipment that will help other Ray of Hope Community Centre (ROHCC) guests.
When his dad died six years ago, Tom says, “something happened in my brain. I didn’t care about anything anymore.”
Then a friend introduced him to Ray of Hope.
At the Community Centre, Tom met people who cared about him and who were willing to listen, especially ROHCC Program Coordinator, Boris Emanuel.
“Boris and I hit it off since day one. We just clicked. He’s one of the people I talk to about my problems.”
“Tom is truly appreciative and he expresses that not only in words, but through his actions,” Boris says. “He goes out of his way to help by washing dishes, cleaning up inside and outside, and encouraging others to respect the centre. Leading the car wash is another way he shows how much he appreciates what the centre does for him and for all the other guests.”
Tom’s made many friends among other Ray of Hope staff and volunteers, too. “They’re like a family to me. They’re fantastic people. I joke with them and we have fun,” he says.
“For a long time, I didn’t want to be around anyone. But they got me talking again.”
You’ll find Tom at the ROHCC every weekday evening. But he doesn’t just come for the food. He’s also part of the Wednesday Warriors, a group of guests who choose to give back by serving the evening meal.
And recently, he began to think of other ways to help. He learned that ROHCC staff hoped to install a PA system and a screen in the dining room to let guests know about programs and services.
Tom decided to organize a carwash to raise money for the screen. He recruited his fellow Warriors, other guests and volunteers and together they spent a chilly Victoria Day Monday, washing cars and ultimately raising an amazing $667 toward the system.
But Tom’s not stopping there. He has other ideas to generate donations, like garage sales and carnivals. And in helping the ROHCC, he’s also discovering strengths and talents he didn’t know he had.
“I’ve learned that I like helping others. But it took me a long time to realize what I could do.”
The ROHCC is grateful for individuals like Tom, as well as groups like The Meeting House, a church that’s been a longtime supporter of Ray of Hope. The Meeting House recently contributed toward purchasing a PA system for the Centre which will complement the screens purchased as a result of the car wash. The new screens and PA system will enable ROHCC guests to get important information about resources and services offered at the Centre and in the community.
Allan Almas is a teacher with the Waterloo Region District School Board who works with the young men in Ray of Hope’s Residential addictions treatment program. He’s using a battered old shed on the property to teach program participants not only construction techniques but confidence as well.
Teaching people who are dealing with addiction can be challenging. Many of the youth have attended school only sporadically. They often struggle with past trauma and may have difficulty focusing on a task. So the Youth Addictions team looks for different ways to help program participants learn.
“We as a community at Residential felt that it would be a benefit to the residents here to take a construction course that would allow them to develop new skills, with a focus on hands-on learning,” Allan says. Through the shed project, the youth will explore the basics of building a house and how to use hand and power tools. They’ll follow a construction planning process and learn about building codes and bylaws, as well as how to obtain building permits.
Instead of measuring their performance through tests or quizzes, participants will be able to literally see their progress as they build the floor, frame the walls, construct and shingle the roof.
They’ll also develop skills that can be used in any situation, not just a construction site – to work as part of a team, to communicate effectively with others, to work through complicated issues and to solve problems.
For some of these young men, the biggest lesson may be that they CAN try new things and succeed. And when construction winds up at the end of June, they’ll have a very solid reminder of all they’ve achieved.
Because ultimately, this project isn’t about constructing a shed. It’s about building people.
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.