Hope in Action
Ten years ago, a national walk to help Canadians in need started right here in Kitchener-Waterloo. On February 22, Ray of Hope will welcome hundreds of walkers to the 2020 Coldest Night of the Year (CNOY). Through the generosity of our walkers, volunteers and donors, CNOY contributes a significant portion of our budget and allows us to build a caring community for hungry, homeless and hurting people.
In this issue, meet the Mighty Quinns, one of our longest-serving CNOY teams. Then read about a community-building program that’s made possible through CNOY donations. And if you want to experience CNOY for yourself, why not sign up to walk? We’d love to have you join us!
CNOY Team Spotlight: The Mighty Quinns
February 22, 2020 marks the tenth anniversary of the Coldest Night of the Year (CNOY). This national event started right here in Kitchener-Waterloo and raises money to help charities in 136 communities across Canada that serve hungry, homeless and hurting people.
We’re beyond grateful for the hundreds of people in KW who have laced up their snow boots to walk for Ray of Hope. Those people include The Mighty Quinns, a CNOY team that has participated in the walk every year since 2011. We chatted with team captain Ian Pollock (far left in the photo above) about why they got involved and what keeps them walking, year after year.
Why is your team called the Mighty Quinns?
The team name is entirely random. It comes from the song Mighty Quinn by Manfred Mann about an Inuit man named Quinn. A friend and I came up with the name just because of the reference to winter weather.
How long has your team been walking in CNOY?
We first joined the walk in its second year and have had a team ever since.
Why did your team decide to participate in CNOY?
Our team is largely members of First Baptist Church Waterloo but not exclusively. For the last 15 years or so, our church has brought a meal team to Ray of Hope but our church members have been engaged in the ministry for maybe 40 years in different capacities, so it was a natural progression to join this event.
What’s the best part of participating in CNOY?
It’s a very practical way to support our community not just materially but relationally. It’s a chance to come together as a group even for a short time to acknowledge the challenges in our community and connect in a more tangible way beyond simply donating.
Do you have any favourite memories of past CNOYs?
The first year we participated there was an unforeseen issue with the meal prep after the walk and so we had to wait a long time for a small amount of food. Everyone was cold and tired and still hungry afterwards, and it was unintentionally absolutely perfect because in that moment we had a sense of what so many go through in our community.
What would you tell someone who was thinking of forming a CNOY team?
I’d encourage everyone to participate in this event because it’s highly practical, locally focused and the organizers have done a great job creating a sense of community among the participants.
Building community, one song at a time
It’s 5 p.m. on a Saturday evening at the Ray of Hope Community Centre (ROHCC). In the chapel, Community Centre Chaplain Hector Pineda sets up chairs while other people adjust the AV equipment. But they’re not preparing for a worship service. Tonight is karaoke night, a monthly event where ROHCC guests find both fun and fellowship.
Sarah and Charles are this evening’s karaoke hosts. The pair, who run a DJ business, have volunteered their services every other month for the past year, alternating with another couple.
“We volunteer because karaoke gives people a chance to get to know one another and feel like part of the community,” Sarah says.
Their business – Night Life Entertainment DJ & Karaoke Services – rose out of Sarah’s own struggle to find employment. She uses a wheelchair and because of her disability, she found that many employers were reluctant to hire her.
Instead, the couple turned their love of music (she’s a fan of Miley Cyrus and he likes Guns ’n Roses) into a career. Sarah is also starting to write songs. That’s especially impressive because she wears hearing aids and experiences music mostly through vibrations.
Besides hosting at Ray of Hope, the couple has also done events ranging from weddings to birthday celebrations to pool parties. This December, they provided the entertainment at Ray of Hope’s staff Christmas party.
A supportive atmosphere
For Chaplain Hector Pineda, karaoke night “is an opportunity for guests to come out on a Saturday night to a healthy environment where they can enjoy themselves and have fellowship together.”
The monthly event draws a core group of about 25 people. This group, assisted by Hector and the karaoke hosts, has created a positive, supportive atmosphere where participants not only feel comfortable singing but also sharing the feelings behind the songs.
Hector remembers speaking to one young man who was grieving the death of his best friend. The man mentioned a song that had been his friend’s favourite and how he wished that one day he could share it with others. Hector encouraged him to perform the song that evening and the crowd listened respectfully as the young man sang and then spoke about his friend.
Hector notes that karaoke nights are also a great way to reach out to people who might not be comfortable coming to chapel.
“It’s another way for us to show God’s love,” he says.
Help a neighbour in need
When you give any of these items, you make life a little easier for struggling neighbours. Thank you!
You can also provide meals for hungry people through our secure donation page.