Hope in Action

August 2022


Knowing someone cares about you can lift your spirits and maybe even shape your future. Just ask Michaela and Margaret. As a child, Michaela learned how important it is to have an advocate. Now she’s taking on that role for other kids. And Margaret, one of our amazing meal team volunteers, sees the impact a warm meal served with a smile can have on our Community Centre guests.

Thank you for being that caring friend for our neighbours in need. Your support is making a difference right now. And who knows? Your kindness may help shape someone’s future too!

Using her voice to support others

The experience Michaela gained at Ray of Hope helped her successfully launch her career in social work.


MichaelaGrowing up, Michaela Howarth’s family became involved with social services. She experienced first-hand the positive and negative sides of the system.

“I saw the gaps, the discrimination, the lack of accountability, and the impact of colonialism. However, I also saw how valuable it is to have even one person in your life who cares about you and will advocate for you.”

“I wanted to use my voice to try to support others,” she says.

Michaela enrolled in the Bachelor of Social Work program at Renison University College. As part of her studies, she needed to complete a field placement. Michaela chose Ray of Hope’s Day Treatment Program, which helps young people overcome substance misuse.

Supporting youth in treatment

“I chose the Day Treatment program for my placement because Ray of Hope came highly recommended by Renison’s administration,” she says. “The program uses a strengths-based approach, focusing on the skills and knowledge people bring to problems and crises in their lives. I was also interested in addiction treatment.”

Teenage girl playing tennis
Tennis is one of the activities Michaela and Day Treatment Program staff use to help youth develop healthy habits and relationships.

“My duties in the Day Treatment program included supporting youth in their academic work and leading the opening meeting where we would do different mindfulness activities. With staff supervision, I also participated in counselling conversations and helped to conduct treatment groups and neurofeedback treatments.”

The importance of self-care

“During my placement, I felt that I developed as a social worker. I learned how different agencies and systems work together, how to be an advocate for my clients, and the importance of self-care.

“So many organizations preach self-care but don’t support this in their day-to-day operations. Ray of Hope drove home the importance of self-care and made it possible,” Michaela says.

“My co-workers were always checking in with me and we’d debrief over a game of ping pong. My supervisor actually made self-care a learning goal for me. The program manager and director also created opportunities for us to recharge and protect our mental health.”

Experience and knowledge

“Besides learning how much I enjoy working with teens and creating safe, positive relationships with them, the best part of my placement was my amazing mentors. The healthy, supportive work environment they created helped me learn and build my confidence. I’ve noticed the benefits in both my work and personal life.”

Since completing her placement, Michaela has accepted a full-time, permanent position as a child protection worker. “I had a handful of interviews and was offered a position at each organization. My placement gave me the experience and knowledge I needed to answer the interview questions.”

Journeys toward healing

As she begins her social work career, Michaela says, “I feel so lucky to have been a part of the Day Treatment Program and bring its philosophies to my practice in the future. It’s a privilege to be invited to walk alongside people in their journeys toward healing and wellness.”

Your support of Ray of Hope not only helps guests and clients in our programs. You are also creating opportunities for a new generation of social service workers to learn, grow and serve. Thank you!

Volunteer spotlight: Margaret Vanderpool

Every day, Ray of Hope meal teams make a difference in the lives of people who are hungry and hurting. These dedicated volunteers provide delicious and nutritious food to our guests, along with compassion and lots of smiles.

Ray of Hope summer student Rachel Adema sat down with volunteer Margaret Vanderpool. Margaret is a Kingdom Community International Church member and serves with the church’s meal team. She shared her motivation for volunteering.

Q: Why did you decide to volunteer?

A: Volunteering brings joy and fulfillment to my life. After raising my family here in this community, I dreamed of giving back in a tangible way. When I retired in 2005, I saw an opportunity to do just that at Ray of Hope, one of the many organizations I’m actively involved in at present.

Q: Why did you choose Ray of Hope?

A: Just looking at our clients when they come to the servers – the look on their faces shows how appreciative they are, knowing that there is a team of people taking the time to prepare delicious meals for them and serving them with a smile. It’s rewarding when they come back to say a big THANK YOU.

Q: What is the most rewarding part about being a volunteer?

A: We wanted to be a part of this organization that gives hope and does make a difference in our growing community.

Thank you, Margaret, for helping to bring hope to our guests!

We need more meal teams like Margaret’s to help feed the growing number of guests who need help. For more information on serving as an individual or as part of a group, please visit our Volunteering page or contact Jaime Wright at 519-578-8018 ext. 224.

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:

  • Cereal
  • Canned food (meat and fish, fruit, soup, etc.)
  • Pasta and pasta sauce
  • Plastic shopping bags
  • Toiletries, especially toothpaste and brushes, razors and shampoo/conditioner

For more information, please contact us at: info@rayofhope.net.

You can also feed hungry people through our secure donation page.