Hope in Action
National Volunteer Week Appreciation week was April 16-22. This past year, 1,350 volunteers contributed more than 17,500 hours to Ray of Hope. Thank you! We could not do what we do without you.
In this issue, read about the Open House where we welcomed our volunteers and donors and invited them to learn more about the services they support. Then, hear about the challenges facing our Marketplace food hamper program as we seek to serve a growing number of guests.
Welcoming our volunteers and donors
On April 22, Ray of Hope welcomed approximately 70 people at our Donor and Volunteer Appreciation Open House. Visitors toured the Community Centre, as staff explained the programs and services offered in four key areas of service: Community Support, Youth Support Services, Employment Services and Youth Justice.
Among their stops on the tour, visitors had a chance to see first-hand how their support helps hundreds of people in our community.
They walked through the Marketplace (see the story below), which provided groceries to more than 3,500 people last year. They learned about neurofeedback, an innovative therapeutic tool used to help reduce stress and anxiety for youth in our treatment programs, among others. They heard about a wide variety of services — from haircuts to tax clinics — that guests can access. And they visited the kitchen, where volunteers serve hundreds of meals each day.
“I’ve been a monthly donor to Ray of Hope for many years,” one woman said, “but this is the first time I’ve visited in person.” She said she was so touched by what she saw, she decided to increase her monthly donation.
“Thank you for organizing the Open House — SUPER idea. I am a monthly donor and one sends a donation and knows very little about the place except hoping that the donation is used to help people in need. I came with my adult daughter and we stayed for two hours listening and asking questions. WOW !!! What an eye-opener!!!”
~ Open House visitor
“The Open House is one small way for us to say thank you and to show our amazing donors and volunteers the impact they make in our community,” said Tonya Verburg, Ray of Hope’s CEO. “We can’t do this work alone and it was so wonderful to see so many of our supporters in person. It was a great day filled with learning and sharing how blessed we are. In fact, the feedback was so positive, we’ve decided to make this an annual event.”
Would you like to tour the Community Centre and learn more about how you can help neighbours who are hungry, hurting or homeless? Please contact Kyla Arsenault, Fundraising and Public Relations Director.
Helping families put food on the table
As the manager for the Marketplace, Ray of Hope’s food hamper program, Julie Letford hears the same story over and over: “The cost of food and the cost of living is hurting everyone. I can’t tell you how many times a week I speak to families who cry because they are overwhelmed with the stress,” she says. And the need is growing.
“Last year, we served 1,001 households. From January to March this year, I took on 100 new households, including 547 children. That’s a staggering increase for us.”
Guests can come to the Marketplace for a hamper with enough food for three to five days. But they can only visit once a month.
“Even that is getting hard to provide,” Julie says. “The number of items I can order from the Food Bank has drastically decreased. Donations are very low — if you can’t afford to feed your own family, you are simply not going to donate.”
Julie and her team of eight Marketplace volunteers do everything they can to help guests make the most of the food that’s available.
“We provide recipe cards as well as our Marketplace ‘tips’, little signs I hang up in different departments suggesting how to use a particular product. For example, you can pour chunky soup over rice or potatoes, or use black beans to make burgers. I find our single male guests, especially, struggle to cook and need some inspiration.”
While the need may be overwhelming, so is the gratitude guests express.
“They are so appreciative that there are resources like our Marketplace to ensure they have a little bit of food in their cupboards,” Julie says. “Many times a week, we get tears and hugs and a great big “thank you” from guests who would not eat without us or would have to send their kids to school without lunch.”
We are incredibly grateful to the churches, community groups, and individuals who generously give to our program, and we are always in need of support.
Donations of food or personal hygiene items to the Marketplace are gratefully accepted. Items can be dropped off at the rear entrance at 659 King St. East, Kitchener, from Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. (See a list of our most-needed items at the bottom of this page.) You can also make a financial gift through our secure donation page.
Thanks for helping the hundreds of households who rely on the Marketplace!
Play golf, help kids: Ray of Hope Golf Classic
Join us on Monday, June 19, 2023, for a fun-filled afternoon of golf and camaraderie at the beautiful Rebel Creek Golf Club. Test your skills in our putting challenge, closest to the pin and straightest drive contests. Our 2023 goal is to raise $60,000 for Ray of Hope’s Youth Support Services.
A dinner buffet, complete with prizes, follows your day out on the course.
Golf registration is $185 per person and $740 per foursome. Sponsorship opportunities are available. Email email@example.com or call 519-578-8018 x 217 to find out more.
Last year’s event sold out quickly. Don’t be disappointed. Register today!
Registration and Lunch: 10:30 a.m. to noon
Tournament Tee Off: noon
Buffet Dinner and Prizes: 6:30 p.m.
We are truly grateful for the outpouring of support during the 2022 Golf Classic, and we are looking forward to a successful event in 2023. Hope to see you there!
Help a neighbour in need
When you give, you make life a little easier for people in our community who are struggling with food insecurity. Thank you!
URGENT: The Marketplace food hamper program is running low on all items and the following are especially needed:
For more information, please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org. All donations are appreciated!
You can also feed hungry people through our secure donation page.