Hope in Action

February 2021


To those of you who are new to Hope in Action, welcome! We hope you enjoy these stories about the people and projects you support through your donations, volunteer hours and prayers.

This week, as temperatures hit some of the lowest marks we’ve seen this winter, many of our friends are gearing up to help neighbours living in poverty by participating in the annual Coldest Night of the Year event. We’re grateful to all of you who will be taking a walk in the cold or donating to support our Community Centre programs. We couldn’t do what we do without you.

In this issue, our CEO, Tonya Verburg, talks about why Coldest Night is so important. Then, one of our staff members shares the story of a special gift that one of our guests recently made to the Community Centre. As always, thank you for reading and for your support. You are making a difference every day.

Talking the walk with CEO Tonya Verburg

We may not be weather forecasters but at Ray of Hope, we know that February 20 will be the Coldest Night of the Year. That’s the official date for the cross-Canada fundraising walk that helps people experiencing poverty and homelessness.

In Kitchener-Waterloo, 353 people (so far!) will hit the streets on and around February 20 for a socially distanced, COVID-friendly walk. They’re walking to raise funds for Ray of Hope Community Centre (ROHCC) programs. Here, Ray of Hope’s CEO Tonya Verburg talks about how your support of  Coldest Night helps make a difference for our neighbours in need.

CEO Tonya Verburg

Coldest Night is so important for two key reasons:

First, we hope to bring awareness to the issue of homelessness in Waterloo Region. A walk in the cold and dark is a small way for us to step outside the comfort of our own homes. It allows us to acknowledge the difficulty of those who are experiencing homelessness, precariously housed, or living in poverty.  When we walk, we realize that no one is immune to these issues.

Second, Coldest Night is the ROHCC’s largest fundraiser. The walk raises much-needed funds for the Community Centre services, including meal programs, grocery hampers, medical care and so much more. In the past year, the need for these programs has soared — we served 342 additional households last year and served 70,449 meals. And 859 of the nearly 2,400 people we supported last year were children.

But we know that financial poverty is not the only poverty that our guests face. We work to understand our guests so that we can empower them to experience hope, connection, and positive change.

One of the biggest steps forward to improve the way we treat others is changing the way we see people. It is incredibly easy to cast judgment on people we walk by on the street and assume they are living the way they do for a particular reason, which we know nothing about. Walking on the Coldest Night helps us realize that it is not about us and them. It is all about US.

Want to help the ROHCC serve vulnerable people in our Region? When you raise funds or donate during the Coldest Night of the Year, you provide vital support to neighbours experiencing poverty and homelessness. Please consider joining us this year.

A gift from the heart

Faith shares a story about a special gift to the ROHCC

As a service coordinator at the Ray of Hope Community Centre (ROHCC), Faith Laverty gets to know our guests well. She sees the positive changes that happen in their lives, often starting with something as simple as a warm meal. Faith also witnesses the compassion that guests extend to one another and their desire to give back.

A few weeks ago, a guest made a gift to the ROHCC that touched Faith’s heart.

“Dorothy* is an older woman who recently started coming to Ray of Hope for drop-in to enjoy lunch. She lives nearby in subsidized housing and has really appreciated coming to our Centre during the day for a hot meal,” Faith explains.

“She shared with staff that her son, who struggled with addiction, used to access the ROHCC many years ago and was helped by the staff here. She was so grateful for all the help the Centre gave her son.”

One day, Dorothy overheard that the ROHCC had run out of milk to serve with coffee, so she went out and bought a carton of milk and hot chocolate packages to donate to the coffee station.

When staff thanked Dorothy for her generosity, she said, “God redeemed me, so I need to give back.”

“This gesture was so heart-warming to the staff. It reminded us of the story of the widow in the Bible who donated the little she had to the temple,” Faith says.

“It was a beautiful reminder of what giving joyfully looks like.”

*Dorothy’s name has been changed to protect her privacy.

Help a neighbour in need

When you give, you make life a little easier for those in our community who are struggling. Thank you!

  • Protein items like canned meat or fish and peanut butter
  • Canned tomatoes, cans/jars of fruit, pasta sauce
  • Men’s winter gloves and boots
  • Toothbrushes and full-size deodorants

You can also provide meals for hungry people through our secure donation page.