Hope in Action
With the onset of colder weather, the people Ray of Hope serves are heading into one of the most challenging seasons of the year. This year, with so many folks struggling financially, there’s more demand than ever for our programs. That’s why we’re so incredibly grateful for your support and the work of volunteers like Carol, who you’ll meet in this issue. With God’s help, we’re working together to make this winter a little warmer.
Years ago, Carol McLaren’s daughter participated in Ray of Hope’s youth employment program. It was such a positive experience that after completing the program, her daughter asked to return.
“The staff encouraged her and made her feel so welcome,” Carol remembers. “She felt some sense of belonging to the community.”
In 2020, when the quilt shop where Carol worked closed, she decided to retire. She had volunteered with various organizations as her daughter was growing up, and now she began looking for new ways to contribute. Coming to Ray of Hope, Carol says, “was the best decision I ever made.”
Carol considers herself “a learning Christian” and although she’s not currently affiliated with a specific denomination, the thought of volunteering with a faith-based organization appealed to her. Ray of Hope seemed like a natural fit. Since joining us in 2020, Carol has contributed more than 677 volunteer hours.
“Carol serves in many capacities, including as a kitchen helper, Marketplace helper and a member of the Community Centre’s hospitality team,” says Jaime Wright, Volunteer Services Manager. “She is invaluable and has a passion for our staff, our guests and for the work we do.”
One of the things Carol enjoys most about her time at Ray of Hope is the diversity of people she meets among guests, staff and other volunteers. “All these people from different faith traditions and backgrounds come together to help one another out.”
In particular, Carol has enjoyed meeting and learning from Mennonite volunteers. Without Ray of Hope she says, “I would never have met some of the most cheerful, positive, generous people I’ve ever known.”
Just like it did for her daughter, Ray of Hope has become Carol’s community, “and I thank God every day for it,” she says.
However, volunteering isn’t always easy. Three weeks after Carol joined Ray of Hope, the COVID pandemic struck. She remembers how public health restrictions meant that guests could no longer access washrooms, showers and laundry facilities. “It was heartbreaking to have to say no to them,” she says.
Today, those restrictions have eased, but the other threats guests face — from poverty, health issues, addictions and violence — have not. Over the past three years, Carol has built relationships with many of our guests and when she doesn’t see someone for a while, she worries for their safety and wellbeing.
“It’s difficult, but I know it’s not our job as volunteers to fix their lives. Our job is to listen and care.”
For someone who might be considering volunteering at Ray of Hope, Carol has this advice: it won’t always be easy but give it time.
“As a volunteer, you hear a lot, and you see a lot. Some of it is hard. But don’t quit,” she urges.
“It’s easy to write checks to a charity. It’s different when you actually become part of it. Ray of Hope is my community. When I think of all the people I’ve met here, I feel blessed to have known every single one.”
Interested in volunteering at Ray of Hope? Please visit our volunteer page to learn about the positions we have available and to apply.
When you give, you make life a little easier for people in our community who are struggling with food insecurity. Thank you!
The Marketplace food hamper program continues to run 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.