Hope in Action

January 2021


Happy New Year! Helen Keller once said that although the world is full of suffering, it’s also full of people overcoming suffering. The past year has been a painful one for many of our guests and clients. We know it’s also been difficult for you, our incredible supporters. But despite everything, you’ve continually answered the call to help and you’ve allowed us to overcome so many challenges. Thank you for your never-ending generosity as we move forward together in hope.

Climbing out of addiction

A local gym is helping young people heal through physical activity.


Closeup of young woman reaching for a hold on a climbing
Climbing teaches responsibility, confidence and the importance of self-care

Rock climbers tend to be a tight-knit group, which makes sense in a sport where participants rely on each other for their safety. The members of Grand River Rocks Climbing Gym are no exception. And through their camaraderie, they’ve inspired a generous gift to help young people in our Youth Addictions Services (YAS) treatment programs.

For the past few years, program participants have visited Grand River Rocks regularly to tackle the climbing wall and boulders, work out in the weight area or use its cardio machines. These activities aren’t just fun – they’re an important component of their treatment.

The “feel-good” hormones generated during exercise and sports help to replace the artificial high that drugs and alcohol provide. Exercise can assist in healing bodies damaged by substances, and release pent up stress. And the opportunity to develop new skills builds confidence and self-esteem.

Now, thanks to the thoughtfulness of Grand River Rocks members, YAS’ membership has been upgraded, allowing the youth to visit the gym twice a week, instead of once, at no additional cost.

Taylor and her black lab in front to a rock face
Taylor of Grand River Rocks, with a friend

Paying it forward

Here’s how it happened: During the first COVID shutdown, explains Taylor Peer, Grand River Rocks’ assistant manager, many of the gym’s members continued to make their monthly membership payments to help the small business cope.

“People made these payments, even though there was no benefit to them, because they wanted to ‘pay it forward’,” Taylor says.

To thank members for their loyalty, the gym’s owners pledged to apply the dollar equivalent of those payments towards Ray of Hope’s membership once the gym reopened.

“They cheer each other on”

So, at a time when many worthy causes need help, why did Grand River Rocks choose to support our kids through their generous donation?

Taylor notes that Grand River Rocks is built around a community of people who have seen the benefits of climbing in their lives. Over time, YAS participants have become part of that community.

“Climbing can affect your life in a positive way. It teaches you responsibility, confidence and the importance of self-care,” she says. “It helps you grow and it’s been exciting to see that happen with the youth from Ray of Hope. They’ll fall off a boulder and get back up again. They cheer each other on. It’s been a heartening view of the impact climbing can have.”

Five stories of hope from 2020

We all saw some pretty dark days this past year. But thanks to your prayers, volunteer hours and financial support, Ray of Hope continued to serve vulnerable people in our community. Here are five stories from the past year that show the incredible impact of your generosity.

Sarah and Charles HortonBuilding community, one song at a time

Two Ray of Hope guests turned their love of music into a DJ business. Then they began sharing their talents as hosts of the Community Centre’s karaoke night. Read about Sarah and Charles.


Tools for a new life

Everyone deserves a second chance. Open Custody’s programs gave this young man the opportunity to start over. Read Jon’s story.



Homeless man is sleeping on a bench in the cityHouse of Hope offers shelter and support

COVID-19 made life on the streets even more difficult this summer. Here’s how Ray of Hope and House of Friendship united to keep our homeless guests safe. Read about House of Hope.



An upset-looking woman getsrures while speaking to a female counsellor while a man looks onHelping parents navigate addiction during COVID-19

Supporting a troubled, defiant teen is even more stressful during a pandemic. Youth Addiction Services created online resources to help parents cope. Learn about these tools.


Young woman in khaki uniform stands next to a zebra-striped truck

From job search to safari

Petra was a young woman struggling to find work. The Youth Employment Program helped her launch a career on the wild side. Read Petra’s story.


Join us (virtually) on the Coldest Night!

Each February, thousands of people across Canada walk on the Coldest Night of the Year to raise money for charities serving people in need. In Kitchener-Waterloo, funds raised during CNOY support the Ray of Hope Community Centre (The ROHCC).

Due to COVID-19, this year’s KW CNOY walk will be 100% virtual. That means walkers can design their own 2km or 5km route and walk as individuals or with their team bubbles any time in February. Learn more about the 2021 walk.

With the ongoing pandemic, more guests than ever are using the ROHCC’s services and programs. If you’d like to help people in our community who are experiencing homelessness and poverty, we’d love to have you join us! Register today … because it’s cold out there!

Check out photos from last year’s walk on Facebook.

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 and peanut butter
  • Canned tomatoes, cans/jars of fruit, pasta sauce
  • Men’s winter gloves and boots
  • Toothbrushes and full-size deodorant

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