In January 2019, the Gay Lea Foundation announced a $2,000 grant to St. Andrew’s Hespeler Presbyterian Church for its Hope Clothing program.
St. Andrew’s Hespeler Presbyterian Church was established in 1855 in Cambridge, Ontario. One of its many community programs, Hope Clothing, provides free new or gently used clothing, personal care products and small household items for those in the community who need extra help making their budget stretch, including the working poor, and those who are unemployed, homeless, victims-of house fires or abuse, etc.
The church has been running the program for nine years, and has seen an increase year over year, says Joni Smith, Family Ministries Co-ordinator for St. Andrew’s.
“Hope Clothing has a solid volunteer base comprising of community and church members,” says Smith. “Some of our volunteers have learning and physical disabilities, and some are clients giving back. With a diverse range of personalities, we needed one person to ensure all the volunteers are taken care of and treated appropriately,” she adds.
With the Gay Lea Foundation donation, St. Andrew’s created a permanent paid Hope Clothing Co-ordinator position to co-ordinate the program’s many volunteers. The woman who was hired has been volunteering for Hope Clothing for nine years, says Smith.
“This grant will help us to changes lives,” says Smith. “Because we work with so many marginalized people, it is hard to share their stories, and all too often the stories we hear are heartbreaking. Hope Clothing not only offers a place for community members to get clothing, but it also offers a safe place for our clients to talk with our volunteers and we hope, feel unconditional acceptance.”