Hope in Action
It takes courage to change. In this issue, meet Gord and Lynn. With your help, they are working toward sobriety, employment and independence. Every day at ROH, we’re inspired by the bravery of the people we serve and by the generosity of people like you, who allow us to support them throughout their journeys. Thank you!
Working It Forward: Gord’s story
Six months ago, Gord was in a dark place. He was using fentanyl and living on the street. He overdosed multiple times, often at the Ray of Hope Community Centre.
“Ray of Hope staff saved my life quite a few times,” he says.
“I wanted to get clean, but it was so hard doing it on my own with no help. I was on the street, with no place to live. I’ve lost so much and spent so much money trying to kill myself. You don’t want to deal with life, you don’t understand life, and you just want to get out of it all.”
Fortunately, Gord had the courage to reach out to staff for help. And through a program that supporters like you make possible, he began to change his life.
“I began to invest my time with Ray of Hope,” he says. “The staff were hugely supportive of me and helped me along. I was able to get on methadone and find a stable place to live. I started to volunteer my time as a way to keep busy and keep off the fentanyl. It got easier and easier to make changes with all the knowledge I was gaining and the things I was learning.”
Then, Gord joined the Work It Forward program.
Sara McKnight, Services Co-ordinator Team Lead, explains that Ray of Hope programs like Work It Forward and Getting Ahead are based on the Bridges Out of Poverty framework, which helps participants to become self-sufficient.
“The Work it Forward program is designed to provide our guests with practical volunteer experience that they can add to a resume, which would help them in their future employment searches. It provides them with an opportunity to use their time in meaningful ways and connects them with staff members who can assist them in their journey.”
“We are beginning to pay select participants with gift cards, to show them the value of their work. Paying them for their time creates opportunities and incentives to demonstrate employability and gives them dignity,” Sara adds.
“Our goal is to build “getting ahead” resources, rather than “getting by” resources, to help guests to break the cycle of poverty,” says Sara.
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“Through Working It Forward, I started janitorial work at the Community Centre and began to be paid for my time with gift cards. The program showed me that things change with hard work and dedication. It became the only thing I could think about that would help me stay on the straight and narrow,” Gord says.
“Since starting the program,” he adds, “I’m budgeting my money. I’m learning how to be more patient. Through my work, I’m able to talk to people struggling and offer some hope. I love it. Helping people makes me smile every day.”
Today, thanks to your support, Gord has a new job and a new outlook on life.
“I’ve come a long way – I’ve found hope.”
Supporters like you play a vital role in helping guests get ahead. You can help people just like Gord rebuild their lives. Please make a donation today using this secure donation form and direct your gift to the Community Centre. Thank you for giving hope.
Players of all abilities are welcome, and there will be contests to challenge your skill.
When: June 20, 2022
Where: Rebel Creek Golf Club
Time: 1 p.m. shotgun start
Price: $175 (includes 18 holes, cart and dinner)
For more information or to learn how to sponsor this event, please contact us at email@example.com or 519-578-8018.
When tech supports treatment
Accessing treatment is often challenging for people living with addiction. When COVID-19 closed in-person treatment programs, it became even harder for youth struggling with substance use and problematic behaviour to get the care they needed.
Fifteen-year-old Lynn* is one of those young people. But thanks to a new hybrid treatment program offered by Ray of Hope’s Youth Addiction Services (YAS), she’s getting support as she works toward sobriety.
Lynn is a participant in the Day Treatment program, which combines daily support meetings and on-site schooling that’s offered in partnership with the Waterloo Region District School Board.
At the beginning of the pandemic, YAS staff quickly moved to virtual programming so they could continue to support youth. Many participants — especially those with anxiety or who were new to treatment — thrived in an online environment. But some, like Lynn, preferred to interact with therapists and group participants in person. Staff were faced with a question: How could programming meet both of these needs?
Participants now have the choice of attending the program either in person or online via Zoom or Google Meet. A special camera and high-end microphone allow all participants to interact with the group, even if some attendees are in other locations.
Lynn likes to attend the program in person, but she sees the benefits of the online option, too.
“I like that if you’re shy, online is a good way to get your foot in the door before you come in person,” she says. “You can stay at home and be comfortable. And if you’re sick, you can still participate.”
That last point is a huge plus, Steve says. The virtual option allows youth to get support — even if they’re unable to physically be present, or live outside the Region. And because students can earn high school credits based on their participation in the program, the ability to attend online means they don’t fall behind.
“You don’t lose out on anything,” Lynn says.
The hybrid program isn’t perfect. Lynn says that while attending online helps keep her mind occupied when she’s at home, some days it can be difficult to focus.
To help both virtual and in-person participants avoid distractions and absorb information better, staff are using interactive presentation software like Menti and Kahoot. These tools allow the youth to interact with content through polls, quizzes, and word clouds. Online games help make learning more interesting, more engaging, and more enjoyable.
“It’s important to have fun, even when you’re learning,” Steve says. “That’s part of self-care.”
Addiction treatment stresses self-care because it supports sobriety by promoting physical, mental and emotional health.
Through self-care, people attempting to manage their behaviours find positive alternatives to substance use. Sometimes, when people are in recovery, Steve says, they can turn to activities that become problems themselves, like overeating, compulsive shopping, or excessive video gaming. The hybrid program is teaching participants technical literacy, and how to use technology in positive ways.
As anyone who attends virtual meetings knows, sometimes things just don’t work the way you’d hoped. Wifi connections drop, it can be hard to hear what others are saying, and Zoom fatigue is real. Still, the introduction of video conferencing tools and online learning technologies provides much-needed support to youth in Day Treatment. And the online option allows those who may be waiting for a bed in the Ray of Hope Residential treatment program to get care more quickly.
Steve believes that future technology upgrades will improve the program still further and help more kids get the help they need to overcome substance abuse.
“We’re working to make this the best possible experience for participants like Lynn.”
For more information about how Youth Addictions Services can help a young person you care about, please email us.
*Name has been changed.
Help a neighbour in need
When you give, you make life a little easier for vulnerable people in our community. Thank you!
The Marketplace food hamper program has put out a special call for these items:
For more information, please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also feed hungry people through our secure donation page.