Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Beacon(s) of Light: Ed and Ginny Peng

Customers entering Ginny Peng's boutique are greeted with smiles, kind words and hope for tomorrow.

The store is so busy they can only let a few people in at a time. Ed Peng jokes with a customer, "No tax  today, just for you."


Ed and Ginny, along with about 20 dedicated volunteers, run the clothing boutique at Kitchener's Ray of Hope. They started volunteering with Oasis several years ago with a small group from their church. When Ray of Hope moved to their new location almost 2 years ago, Ginny was asked to head up the clothing donation program. With Ed, a self-admitted reluctant volunteer by her side, Ginny dove into the project head first, transforming a dreary clothing donation closet into a boutique where her customers could come and shop for high quality clothing that would serve them for everyday and work related purposes.


3 times per week, clients can shop for pants, shirts, new socks and underwear, jackets, shoes, boots and more. There is no cost for the clothing and every step of the process; from accepting donations, sorting,processing and the "sale" is manned by volunteers.

Both Ed and Ginny hold the Ray of Hope organization in great esteem. They told me the support from Ray of Hope staff is huge and they couldn't ask for a more dedicated management team.

Ray of Hope has been a fixture in Kitchener-Waterloo since 1967. In addition to the clothing boutique and meal program, they have their own food bank, run Morning Glory café sites in downtown Kitchener and at Heffner Toyota in East Kitchener. The Ray of Hope umbrella also shelters life-changing community programming for youth at risk, with open and secured custody facilities, youth employment programs and youth addiction services.

Every time I am at Ray of Hope one thing that astounds me is the level of respect in the building, from staff, volunteers and clientele. I've been in shelters and community centres where chaos is the game 24/7 but Ray of Hope is always dignified. Where clothing rooms usually operate somewhere around "frenzy", the folks visiting Ed, Ginny and their team are calm and collected. They browse through the racks of clothing the same as they would in any store and this is where I think the difference lies between your average clothing donation room and the vision the Ginny has created.

Ginny shows her clients respect by providing good quality clothing that is clean and cared for. She has created a space where her clients don't feel that they're sorting through someone else's garbage but instead, are shopping for new clothes for themselves. Her team is loving, kind and generous with both smiles and time. She shows a level of respect that oftentimes, homeless and vulnerable clients just don't receive. In return, the atmosphere of the boutique she runs is reposeful, poised and above all, courteous.

   "From the minute you walk through the door you know            that you are loved." - Ginny Peng, on Ray of Hope

Meeting with Ed and Ginny, I felt honoured to be in the presence of a couple so committed to their community. They wear their hearts on their sleeves and I saw the love they have for God, community and service. Ginny is like the pin-up girl for my mantra of bringing your passion to your volunteer work. She didn't want to only head up a room full of donated clothes, she had a vision for a space that was going to serve her clients in more ways than just handing out free clothes and her vision has succeeded in a spectacular fashion.

Ed and Ginny, when I grow up, I hope to be just like you.

You can support Ed, Ginny and the Ray of Hope clothing boutique by donating new and pre-loved items that are in good repair. Seasonally appropriate clothing is in high need as the weather gets cold and donations of winter jackets, boots and other cold-weather gear for men, women or children are always appreciated. Donations of new underwear and socks are always in need. 

**Thank you to Scott Brush of Ray of Hope for recommending Ed & Ginny to me as some volunteers that truly deserve a little recognition. You can recognize exceptional volunteers on the Baking the World a Better Place blog by sending their contact info to**

1 comment:

  1. Ginny and Ed.
    Congratulations on such a wonderful job! You are a true testimony of God's love!
    Gudrun and Gisbert Snethlage