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March 2024

Hope in Action

It’s heart-breaking to see how many youth in our community are dealing with poverty and unemployment. At Ray of Hope, we believe that with training and support, many of them can become skilled and productive employees. In this issue, learn how our Employment Services — in partnership with dedicated local employers — is helping these young people find their place in the workforce.

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A “win-win” for employers and young workers

Employment Services connects local companies with motivated employees and financial benefits

When Sam* first started working, they were extremely shy.

“Sam didn’t interact with other staff or customers and didn’t like to make eye contact,” says Sidália Chaves, a Front Manager at Shoppers Drug Mart who hired Sam. Sam did their work well, but Sidália felt that with their intellectual nature, another role within the store might suit them better. She moved Sam to the store’s post office, and the change was incredible.

“This role fit Sam so much better. They came out of their shell, and we heard amazing feedback from customers,” she says.

Sam’s is just one workplace success story made possible by generous employers like Sidália, who are part of Ray of Hope’s Employment Services programs. Through these programs, employers not only help young people enter the workplace but also find financial benefits in hiring program participants.

Wage subsidies and support

Sam is one of many young people Sidália has hired through Employment Services’ programs. These programs help people who have experienced barriers to employment find meaningful work. As part of the programs, participants complete external placements with local companies, like Sidália’s Shoppers location in Waterloo.

Sidalia Chaves

Shoppers Drug Mart manager Sidália Chaves has hired many trainees through Employment Services.

Service Canada subsidizes participants’ wages, meaning that employees can hire a trainee for 10 to 20 weeks at little to no cost. Ray of Hope offers support and coaching to both the trainee and the employer to ensure a positive experience for everyone. At the end of the contract, the employer can either hire the trainee or end the work experience.

“It’s a win-win situation,” says Sidália, “We get people who want to work, and we have the chance to help them get back into the workplace.”

Ready to work

Employment Services programs provide a mix of classroom learning and hands-on experience. Participants learn skills to prepare them for the workforce and earn certifications in health and safety, safe food handling, first aid and CPR. At the end of the program, participants move on to an external placement of 350 to 700 hours.

Sidália notes that the program makes financial sense for employers. Not only are participants’ wages reimbursed, but she needs to invest fewer training hours in these trainees because they arrive with skills they’ve learned in the program. That frees up budget dollars to train other employees.

She finds that program participants are eager to learn “and the more skills they develop, the more valuable they are.” So valuable, in fact, that trainees often go on to permanent roles at Shoppers.

Some employers may have concerns about hiring people who’ve had difficulty finding work in the past. But Sidália says she’s had mostly good experiences with trainees from Employment Services.

“These are the kind of people you want in your organization. It’s a great program.”

To learn more about how you can find motivated employees for your organization while helping young people build a better future, please contact 
Josh Healey, Employment Services Coordinator.

*Name has been changed

Thanks for warming the Coldest Night!

Thank you to all the walkers, fundraisers, volunteers, sponsors, staff, donors, and supporters who contributed to our success in the 2024 Coldest Night of the Year. Your unwavering support helped us exceed our goal!

Every dollar raised goes to the Ray of Home Community Centre, helping those experiencing poverty and homelessness in Kitchener-Waterloo. Together, we can warm up the night.

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Increase your gift’s impact through the Make it Monthly campaign

Monthly donations are a great way to help Ray of Hope serve people experiencing hunger, homelessness, poverty and other challenges in Kitchener-Waterloo. With your help, we can continue our work of providing our guests with groceries and meals, showers and laundry, and a wide range of health, spiritual and support services. And for a limited time, CanadaHelps will help you increase the impact of your gift.

Throughout March, when you make a new monthly gift of $20 or more in support of Ray of Hope, CanadaHelps will make an additional, one-time donation of $20 to Ray of Hope! CanadaHelps will also donate an additional $10 if you increase your existing monthly donation by $10 or more, beginning March 1st, 2024 and ending March 31, 2024.

Please consider creating a new monthly gift of $20 or more to support Ray of Hope through CanadaHelps. Your donation will help us invest in people, inspire hope, and transform lives in our community. Thank you for your support!

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Help a neighbour in need

You can help make life a little easier for people in our community who are struggling with food insecurity and other challenges. Thank you!

The Marketplace has a special need for these items:

    • Hygiene items – razors, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, soap, deodorant, toilet paper, etc.

    • Food for Marketplace – school-safe snacks, canned beans, canned veggies, pasta sauce, canned fruit, cereals, baking items, etc.

    • Track pants and shirts – all sizes.

For more information, please contact us at



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