Hope in Action
Someone once wrote “If you want to touch the past, touch a rock. If you want to touch the present, touch a flower. If you want to touch the future, touch a life.” Ray of Hope is blessed to have hundreds of supporters who touch lives every day. In this issue, meet a group of nurses who care for our guests’ hurting feet and a volunteer who provides a warm welcome to Marketplace clients.
The gift of healthy feet
Many Ray of Hope clients, especially those who are homeless, walk miles each day—often in worn-out shoes. They develop fungal infections and sores that can develop into more serious conditions if they’re not treated quickly.
Since 2011, a group of dedicated nurses have volunteered at the Ray of Hope Community Centre (ROHCC). Linda Jacobs, Linda (Dawson) Heber, Ann Moore, Amy Guilhauman and Maria Urbarri, backed up by Janet Campbell, work to keep our guests’ feet as healthy as possible.
And now, these nurses have helped supply Ray of Hope’s foot clinic with its own equipment, through an amazing $7,500 donation from their professional association.
“We want to buy better equipment to serve people better,” Linda Heber says.
The women belong to the Nurses Entrepreneurial Foot Care Association of Canada (NEFCA). When NEFCA closed last year, its members asked that the association’s funds be allocated to a not-for-profit clinic that offers free foot care. Linda Heber, NEFCA’s president, lobbied the membership on behalf of Ray of Hope.
NEFCA also made a matching donation to the Salvation Army’s foot clinic in Woodstock, which, she notes, was inspired by ours.
“Their nurse came to Ray of Hope and looked at how we run our program and they have opened one there.”
The donation means that the nurses will no longer have to bring their own equipment. Until now, “the two Lindas” (Jacobs and Heber) have (literally) footed the bill for Ray of Hope’s clinic. They bring in their own supplies. They approach companies in the foot care industry for donations of items, like the diabetic socks that SIMCAN Enterprises in Cambridge provides. Linda Heber donated the chairs clients sit in and even makes the lotion that each person receives.
“They really get a really great experience,” Linda says. “We use top-of-the-line products. And we don’t rush people. We work on them until we’re done and sometimes it takes us an hour to do their feet.”
And what do the nurses get in return? “Every shift is like starting a whole brand-new day,” Linda says. “There’s a whole bunch of people who so appreciate what we do. We are thanked. We are blessed. We are hugged. They bring us cookies. One lady does artwork and she made jam for us one year. What we get out of it is a feeling that we’ve really made a difference.”
“We love it. Our hearts are all in it and we are proud to be part of the Ray of Hope Community.”
Hope Hero: Deb Drost
Sometimes food isn’t the most important item people receive at The Marketplace, Ray of Hope’s hamper program. It’s compassion.
Deb Drost is a regular Marketplace volunteer. She joined Ray of Hope in 2015 after hearing about it through her former church and seeing a posting on the Volunteer Action Centre’s website. Now you’ll find her at the Community Centre every Tuesday evening, greeting guests as she registers them for their once-a-month appointment to pick up a few groceries.
One of the things Deb enjoys most is the chance to meet folks from all walks of life — staff, other volunteers and, of course, clients.
“There are so many different kinds of people here. Some people come with their kids and you get to see the little babies. Other people are new immigrants. And some clients come by even when they don’t have appointments, just to chat. You know you get to learn about their lives and the different things going on in them.”
For Deb, volunteering is also a chance to make a difference in someone’s life. Someone like the man who appeared at The Marketplace one day looking for soap, shampoo and a razor. He had a job interview the next day and wanted to look his best. Marketplace volunteers supplied him with the toiletries and wished him luck. The next week, he was back — shaved, neat and smiling. He wanted to let the volunteers know that he got the job.
“What I like the most about Ray of Hope is that it gives people so much more than just food,” Deb says. “When you go through really hard times, it can feel impossible and overwhelming to deal with things all on your own. Sometimes you need advice and help, but often it seems like what you need most is just to talk to someone who listens and cares.”
“Every time I volunteer at ROH, I see clients, staff and volunteers helping, talking, and being there for each other. These kinds of supportive connections are so important and special.”
“I originally volunteered because I wanted to do something that really mattered. I expected to help out, but I found that I’ve also experienced support and caring. I really appreciate all the people, conversations and connections that I’ve experienced during my time here. “
Our hamper program relies on the Food Bank to stock the shelves. Sometimes supplies (especially protein items like peanut butter, beans and canned meat or fish) get low.
“You always wish they had much more. But certain times of year it’s tougher because the Food Bank doesn’t have as many drives,” Deb says.
You can help by donating items to the Food Bank through the collection boxes in your grocery store or by dropping them off during business hours at the Ray of Hope Community Centre. Thank you!
Hope Heroes will be a regular feature of Hope in Action. It’s one small way to recognize the amazing people who contribute their time and talent to Ray of Hope. Thank you, volunteers, for everything you do!
When you give any of these items, you help to make life a little easier for struggling neighbours. Thank you!
Protein items like tuna, peanut butter, canned stew and chili; instant coffee, milk powder and sugar; rice and cereal; jam and canned fruit; spaghetti sauce and soup
Large crockpots with securely attached lids (with handles)
Men’s socks and underwear; razors and shaving cream, shampoo and hand lotion
Or provide meals for hungry people through our secure donation page.