This page contains stories of hope in Waterloo Region as we weather the pandemic.
Continue to check up on the Finding Hope webpage, and on Wellbeing Waterloo Region’s social media accounts. New stories and videos about hope in Waterloo Region are being added weekly.
Create and share your own stories of hope and share them using the hashtag #FindingHopeWWR or #FindingHopeMovement.
The more hope we share,
the more hope we give,
the more hope we get.
Finding Hope Youth Challenge
Waterloo Region siblings Vanessa and Julian began writing letters to residents of long-term care homes in the Spring. They have now written over 100 letters and they have received a few fun messages in response. Vanessa and Julian encourage other youth to write a letter to an older adult who may be feeling lonely right now. even a simple gesture like writing a letter can spark hope and connection in a difficult time.
Hope Through Connection
Be Connected is a weekly virtual hangout hosted by Bridges to Belonging. The drop-in style calls are open to those of all abilities and foster connections and hope for those who drop by to say hello.
Hallowe’en Drive Through
When the great pumpkin can’t come to you, get the community to come to the great pumpkin. When Hallowe’en was threatened with being cancelled because of COVID-19, Kim West and the team at the Wilmot Family Resource Centre did some creative brainstorming. If the ghosts and goblins of October 31st couldn’t go house to house – why not set up a drive through?
In September they organized a drive-through dinner that is traditionally a sit-down fundraiser. That wasn’t possible this year. So they gathered 630 dinner kits made up of local food – from canned beans to Wellesley apples to baking potatoes – and people drove through and picked up a kit to take home. “It was really fun,” said Kim West, who is the centre’s Child and Youth Coordinator, and their Volunteer Coordinator.
So that was in their minds when they began brainstorming for hallowe’en and since they had accomplished one drive through – they’d have another. “We wanted to make it an event, an experience, and make it interactive, even from the car.”
Kim and her team got to work. It was a flurry of making decorations, organizing candy, gathering donations. They prepared different stations along the route with different treats at each station – all 22 volunteers dressing up and everything decorated with their own creations. Two farms donated pumpkins, hay bales and stalks. They organized a drive-through scavenger hunt – bingo-style – whoever completes their bingo card enters to win a prize.
“We’re really excited,” Kim said the day before. “It is a busy place here today with monsters and ghosts being moved around, and giant bags of chocolate, candy, and chips!”
People pre-registered for one of the time slots resulting in 230 cars and more than 550 children hitting the candy stations.
It’s been a real community effort centered around the Wilmot Family Resource Centre. “Many people registered for the event have donated and reached out to volunteer to help prepare things…because they love and miss our normal programming and want to be involved,” Kim said.
She literally grew up at the WFRC because her mother worked there, then Kim became a youth counsellor, and then brought her own daughter to the programs. “And then I started working here again as I was ready to get back to work. So it truly has been full circle for me. And this is not uncommon for so many people we interact with, which makes these events extra meaningful because of all of the connections that we have with so many people throughout the community.”
Even Kim’s daughter who is three helped make the robot – she’s going to be dressed as Catboy. Kim is going to be the cookie monster as she is baking her own little pumpkin who is due in February (which she said was a bit more of a challenge when making hallowe’en decorations.)
The children in Wilmot have been missing social connection through Covid – especially outside of school. They really miss those opportunities, she said, and that’s what the special drive through is for.
“Things can feel overwhelming at times,” Kim said. But this event “connects us to the community and the community to one another. And it’s fun.”
Food banks across Waterloo Region have faced increased need during the pandemic. When the group Muslim Women of Cambridge learned of the shortage of Halal Food at the Food Bank they sprang into action.
Face masks help to keep us safe but they also impact our ability to connect with one another. Human beings are designed for face-to-face communication. We’re wired to read facial expressions and body language. When we laugh together, smile at one another, we bond on a primal level.
So the Waterloo Public Library came up with a way to help. WPL’s Button Project puts the picture of a person’s face on a button. Donning the button, while wearing a mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 while at work, is one way to create a connection and perhaps share a smile.
Anjana Kipfer is the manager of marketing and communications at the library. She says the buttons are a “small token of appreciation” for people who have been working hard during the pandemic. “It’s nice to see a smiling face, some hope, and hopefully it will make some people’s days just a little bit brighter.”
Teachers, caregivers, long-term care home staff and child care workers can send in a photo of themselves and the library will put it on a button for free.
Teachers, school staff, daycare and care home staff can email their photos to firstname.lastname@example.org