Closeup of an older man wearing a knitted cap
Hope In Action

February 2024

There’s a special group of people who believe so deeply in Ray of Hope’s mission that they share it with those closest to them. In this issue, you’ll meet two women who have recruited family and friends across Canada and beyond to support our Community Centre through the Coldest Night walk.

If you have also shared our work with others, we’re so grateful to you for spreading the word. With your help, we can generate more support for neighbours who need help this winter. Thank you!


 

Four women wearing greay toques and red scarves

Cheryl MacLean (far left) and her Coldest Night team, Maggie’s Misfits, walk in honour of Cheryl’s late daughter. Cheryl’s CNOY team, Maggie’s Misfits, continues to raise funds in her daughter’s honour. Friends in New Brunswick and as far away as Florida also walk to support the team and Ray of Hope.

Different paths, one goal

Two long-time CNOY team captains share why they walk on the Coldest Night

On February 24, thousands of Canadians will walk in teams or as individuals in the Coldest Night of the Year (CNOY) event. They’ll brave freezing temperatures to raise money for local charities — including Ray of Hope — that serve people experiencing hurt, hunger, and homelessness. Cheryl MacLean and Kyla Arsenault will be among those participating. Both women have led Coldest Night teams for years. But the stories of what brought them to the walk are very different.

Paying it forward

Cheryl MacLean walks in CNOY because she’s seen first-hand the help and hope that agencies like Ray of Hope provide. Cheryl’s daughter Maggie experienced both homelessness and addiction.

“Maggie had a big heart and wanted to help everyone,” Cheryl says. “Unfortunately, that’s what got her involved with the wrong people.” Cheryl did what she could to help Maggie, but because her daughter was an adult and living in another town, it was difficult. She was grateful to know that Maggie was getting support from agencies in the community where she lived.

“When Maggie needed help, organizations like Ray of Hope were there for her,” Cheryl says. “Supporting Ray of Hope through CNOY became my way to pass it on and pay it forward.” Letting people know they’re not alone

Letting people know they’re not alone

Sadly, Maggie passed away in 2022 at age 28. But Cheryl remains dedicated to helping people who are hurting.

“One of the most important things in this world is to let people know they’re not alone,” she says. With Maggie in mind, Cheryl and her friends have created winter care packages for folks living on the street. She keeps a stash of Tim Hortons cards to give to those in need; on the cards, she writes Maggie4ever28.

Cheryl’s CNOY team, Maggie’s Misfits, continues to raise funds in her daughter’s honour. Friends in New Brunswick and as far away as Florida walk to support the team and Ray of Hope. And because Maggie loved plaid, the team members knitted red scarves with a patch of plaid added. They’ll be wearing those red scarves with their CNOY toques when they walk on February 24.

Closeup of two smiling women wearing white toques

Kyla Arsenault (right) and a friend at the very first Coldest Night walk in 2010.

Supporting what she believes in

Kyla Arsenault has been a CNOY team captain since 2011. That was the very first year of the walk when Ray of Hope and Toronto’s Yonge Street Mission were the only two charities involved in what would become a Canada-wide event.

Kyla first heard about CNOY in her life group (small groups of people who meet regularly to deepen their relationship with God and with each other) at Creekside Church. She says she jumped at the chance to participate in the walk.

Since then, Kyla and three other group members have walked every year to support Ray of Hope, competing in a friendly rivalry to raise funds. Their combined efforts have made their team, Frozen Assets, one of the top five fundraising teams at the Kitchener event for the past 13 years.

Last year, the story came full circle when Kyla joined Ray of Hope as Fundraising and Public Relations Director. Looking at CNOY as a Ray of Hope employee, Kyla says “It’s amazing to be on the other side of things, supporting a charity I believe in.”

Help when it’s needed most

Kyla likes to say that CNOY is a fun event for a serious cause. “January and February are the months with the fewest donations for all charities. But it’s also a time of year when our guests need our help more than ever.” “This year, our goal is to raise $225,000 — 20% of the Ray of Hope Community Centre’s annual budget. CNOY donations allow us to keep our doors open, feeding and providing services to people experiencing homelessness and poverty.”

CNOY is also an opportunity for friends of Ray of Hope to advocate for the organization. “Tell your family and friends and ask them to tell others about the work we do,” Kyla says. Like Cheryl, Kyla’s family members across Canada and abroad support her personal CNOY fundraising. “They give to Ray of Hope because they know I care about it, and they care about me.” Want to see how Maggie’s Misfits, Frozen Assets and other Ray of Hope teams are progressing in their fundraising efforts? Visit the CNOY scoreboard for the Kitchener location to track your favourite team or donate.


Closeup of a blue computer key reading update

We’re so much cooler online

Our website has a whole new look! We wanted to make it easier for our guests, volunteers, and participants to more easily access our services. Check out the new site.


A small boy holds up a half-eaten egg wrap

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!
The Marketplace food hamper program continues to run low on all items and the following are especially needed:

  • Cereal
  • Oatmeal
  • Peanut butter
  • Canned food (meat, fish, fruit, soup, stew, vegetables)
  • Pasta and pasta sauce
  • Toiletries, including toothpaste and toothbrushes, razors, shampoo/conditioner and feminine hygiene products
  • baby food
  • baby formula
  • diapers sizes 2-5
  • For more information, please contact us at donations@rayofhope.net.
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