Hope in Action

March 2020


Sometimes, all people need is a chance. Take Rupesh, who used the training he received in our Youth Employment Program to find a full-time job. Stories like Rupesh’s reinforce our commitment to giving our guests as many tools as possible to help them improve their lives. That’s why we’re so excited by a pilot project that will extend our Community Centre hours and increase access to program and services. You can read both these stories below.

But of course, none of these tools, services or programs would be possible without the support of people like you. Whether you walked, volunteered or donated in the Coldest Night or you support us in other ways, we are so grateful. Thanks for everything you do to give the people we serve a chance.

Shelter, services and security

Extended daytime hours will allow guests to access more services right here at the ROHCC

On any given day, you’ll see people waiting in the parking lot of the Ray of Hope Community Centre (ROHCC). They wait, sometimes for hours, until the doors open and they can come in out of the weather.

Now, a pilot project funded by the City of Kitchener and the Region of Waterloo will extend the Ray of Hope Community Centre’s (ROHCC) hours, providing a much-needed daytime refuge for guests.

The project is the result of a survey Ray of Hope undertook to better understand guests’ needs, says CEO Tonya Verburg.

“We heard that many people have nowhere to go once St. John’s Kitchen closes at 2 pm and before Ray of Hope opens,” she explains.

A woman blowdries a man's hair
The ROHCC will soon be offering an even wider range of services, from extended healthcare to haircuts.

The new funding will allow the ROHCC to open from 2 pm to 9 pm Monday to Friday, Saturdays from 10 am to 2:30 pm and Sundays from 3 pm to 6 pm. Mealtimes will stay the same.

The project will run into the late summer. “We felt it was important to include the summer months since many of our guests suffer from the heat as much as the cold,” Tonya says.

A wide range of services

Aside from shelter, the extended hours also give guests more time to access services like the RAP Room, crucial supports like laundry and showers, recreational programs ranging from crafts to karaoke, and even haircuts.

In addition, Ray of Hope plans to partner with other community agencies to enhance existing programs and offer new ones. As a result, the ROHCC could offer a wide range of services that includes expanded medical care, employment and addictions support, literacy, life skills, spiritual awareness and counselling.

The project will allow guest to connect with vital services — like ID clinics that provide the documentation they need to access other community services — right at the ROHCC.

“Some of our guests have difficulty getting to these services or don’t feel comfortable in an office setting. This project helps to bring these services to people in a place where they feel safe,” Tonya says.

“A huge thank you”

The project is scheduled to run eight months and will provide Ray of Hope, the city and the Region with important data about usage and guests’ needs. It’s information that could guide possible funding in the future, Tonya says.

“We want to give a huge thank you to the City of Kitchener and the Region of Waterloo for making this project possible.”

As the ROHCC’s hours expand, so does our need for volunteers. If you’re interested in learning more about opportunities to make a difference, please visit our Volunteer page.

"Ready to work and contribute"

Like many newcomers to Canada, Rupesh and his parents came here hoping for a better life. They first settled in Nova Scotia but even after becoming Canadian citizens, finding good jobs and buying a home was difficult. So, they made the move to Waterloo Region.

Rupesh, in his 20s, felt very lonely. “I knew nobody here,” he says. As he started looking for work, he saw a posting for Ray of Hope, which offers programs to help with the transition into the workforce. “It sounded perfect for me,” says Rupesh. “And I’d get the chance to meet people.”

Through the Youth Employment Program, Rupesh was able to learn about creating a good resume and interview skills, as well as working in the Morning Glory Café in the Family Centre. “I’d never worked in a café before so it was pretty challenging – but I wanted to challenge myself,” he says.

The café staff, who are newcomers to Canada, or youth having difficulties transitioning to the workplace, prepare snacks and meals to sell to staff and visitors at the Family Centre, with a different lunch menu each day.


“One thing I want people to know about immigrants like me: We are ready to work hard and we want to contribute. We just need people to give us a chance … Ray of Hope gave me that chance.”


During his work there, Rupesh got to know both his colleagues and their customers – including Santiago Grande, the Family Centre manager. When a position for a weekend receptionist at the Centre was advertised, Santiago pointed it out to Rupesh and encouraged him to apply. Rupesh did and was hired.

He’s enjoying his new position and hoping it will lead to more opportunities. “One thing I want people to know about immigrants like me: we have positive memories from our home countries, but we come here for a better future. We are ready to work hard and we want to contribute. We just need people to give us a chance – or a second chance. Ray of Hope gave me that chance. I’m truly grateful to have been given this opportunity.”

This story was written by Teresa Pitman of Family and Children’s Services for their Tree of Hope Radiothon. Thank you, Teresa and Rupesh, for sharing it with us!

You warmed the Coldest Night!

It wasn’t perhaps the coldest Coldest Night of the Year but it was amazing all the same.

How else would you describe the sight of nearly 800 people in grey and white toques hiking along King Street on a February evening?

How else would you describe an event where those walkers — supported by generous donors, dedicated sponsors and tireless volunteers — raised more than $185,000 to help hungry, homeless and hurting people?

How else would you describe the giving spirit of the Kitchener-Waterloo community, which raised more money than any of the other 143 CNOY locations across Canada?

A group of volunteers wearing Coldest Night toques stand in front of the Ray of Hope backgrop
The Wednesday Warriors, a meal team that includes ROHCC guests, volunteered to serve the meal for the Coldest Night of the Year.

Simply amazing.

To those who walked with us, the donors and sponsors who gave, the volunteers who contributed their time and enthusiasm, we have two words:

Thank you!

Because of you, people in need will continue to find hot meals, uplifting programs and so much more at Ray of Hope. And maybe most important of all, they’ll know you cared.

Whether you were able to walk with us or not, we thought you might enjoy some photos from the KW CNOY walk. Hope you can join us next year!

Help a neighbour in need

When you give any of these items, you make life a little easier for struggling neighbours. Thank you!

This month, the Marketplace needs rice and beans. If you think you can fill this need, feel free to drop off your donation at 100-659 King St. E. in Kitchener or email us for more information!

Other items we need include:

  • 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
  • Men’s socks and underwear; razors and shaving cream, shampoo and hand lotion

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