Hope in Action

September 2021


No matter what struggles you might be going through, if someone believes in you, that can make all the difference. Their faith in you can help you find direction, meaning, and hope in your life. This month, meet Josh, who once experienced homelessness. After rebuilding his support network, he was able to find a new path. Now he’s helping participants in our Youth Employment Program find theirs. Then, read how a chalkboard gives Community Centre guests a way to express and share hope — and build community at the same time.

These are just some of the services and initiatives your support makes possible. Thank you for believing in our mission and the people we serve.


Helping youth find a new direction

Once homeless, Josh Healey now helps young people find meaningful employment

Josh Healey

Josh Healey knows what it’s like to be young, alone, and without resources. Not long after finishing high school, his relationship with his family broke down. He lost his job and became homeless, spending two years couch-surfing with friends.

“I had no direction and no social supports,” he says.

Josh doesn’t talk much about this period in his life because he feels that many other people’s circumstances are worse than his. However, he credits experiencing homelessness and a long struggle to find meaningful employment for helping him arrive where he is today – in a career that allows him to help others.

“Everything just clicked”

Josh was able to rebuild his support system, find housing and employment, and continue his education. But in terms of a career, he still felt lost.

Finally, after a lot of reflection, he realized that helping people was a key motivator for him.

“I had a diploma in Arts and Science at this point, so I looked into graduate programs under the social work umbrella. When I came across career development, everything just clicked. It spoke to my past experiences, it matched my strengths, and it was meaningful as I would be able to help others who may be struggling.

Ana participated in YEP in 2015. The program provides participants with career trainiing as well as hands-on experience through internal and external job placements.

Tools, support and confidence

As part of his studies in Conestoga College’s Career Development Practitioner program, Josh recently completed a seven-week practicum with Ray of Hope’s Youth Employment Program (YEP). Josh was attracted to the YEP because of its focus on youth who may have had few advantages, and because it gives participants the tools, support and confidence to eventually find their own fulfilling employment opportunities.

The in-class portion of the program, followed by internal and external work placements “gives the participants practical experience,” Josh says. “They learn everything they need to achieve their goals.”

“The YEP’s mission and values hit home for me. I wish there had been something like this when I was younger.”

Making connections

From day one of his practicum, Josh was heavily involved in delivering workshops and assessments, helping program participants discover their strengths and learn skills to be successful in whatever opportunities they chose to pursue.

“Josh did fantastic work,” says Employment Counsellor Rebecca Scholl, “He has really made a great connection with our participants.”

For Josh, the end of his practicum is bittersweet, but fortunately for the program, he won’t be going far. He’s starting a new position at the Ray of Hope Community Centre; he also plans to continue volunteering with the YEP and helping young people build brighter futures for themselves.

“Their success is my success. I can’t wait to watch them grow and fly.”

Creating comfort and community – with chalk

Wall of Hope gives ROHCC guests a way to lift each other up

“This is the only place I can sleep because it’s the only place I feel safe.”

Sara McKnight, Services Co-ordinator Team Lead at the Ray of Hope Community Centre (ROHCC) has heard this comment and ones like it from many of our guests. While it’s a heart-breaking statement, it’s also hopeful.

“It shows that our guests recognize that this is a positive space, protected ground,” Sara says.

Half-completed chalk drawing of a sunflower“You are a child of God”

A new project at the ROHCC aims to reflect and build on that sense of a positive, safe, and welcoming community. A giant chalkboard at the entrance to the dining room has become the Wall of Hope.

Every week, staff write a prompt to get people thinking about the things that give them hope. Then guests, staff, and volunteers are encouraged to write their thoughts on the board.

“This is a way to say to our guests ‘You are not your poverty, your mental illness, your addiction, or your crimes. You are a child of God, and you deserve hope,’” Sara says. “It’s also a simple way that they can bring hope to someone else who reads their comments.”

Chalk and change

Currently the prompts centre on Philippians 4:8 which says,

“Whatever things are true, whatever things are honorable, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report: if there is any virtue and if there is any praise, think about these things.”

“Everyone is welcome to write about what is lovely, pure, or honourable to them,” Sara says.

But can a chalkboard really help build community?

According to Sara – yes. Along with other programs that are being implemented at the ROHCC, the Wall of Hope helps guests to see that they and their thoughts have value. And that has created a positive ripple effect.

“Over the past few months, we’ve seen people’s attitudes changing, with guests treating the ROHCC facilities and each other with greater respect. Hope draws us all forward.”

Next month, read about Getting Ahead, where ROHCC guests are learning to make a difference in their own lives and in the life of their community.

Help a neighbour in need

When you give, you make life a little easier for vulnerable people in our community. Thank you!

The Marketplace food hamper program can always use these items:

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

For more information, please contact us at: info@rayofhope.net.

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