Those we’ve helped

Welcome to our Hope Storybook, where you can read real-life stories of children, youth and their families and how our support has brought happiness and hope back to their lives.

St. Kateri Tekawitha Catholic Elementary School – Sensory Room

Khadija’s Journey – 2018 Edge Spirit Award Winner

A simple smile can give hope to someone else.

“Mary is a great student and has worked hard over the past few summers to save for a better life for her and her family.  Her mother is struggling financially and unable to give Mary the support she needs.  The Charity of Hope granted her the Gift of Hope through a laptop, which I believe will not only help Mary become who she wants to be but it will also help her continue to positively impact the lives of those around her.”  Don Mallette, Larch After School Program

“Every school has those special teachers that truly care for that child or youth who is in need and reminds them to know that there are people that care about them.  Fernando, from the Charity of Hope is one of those teachers. Before Christmas he reached out to us and shared a story about Owen. Owen’s father, who was the primary provider for Owen’s family, had recently been diagnosed with cancer and while he was seeking treatment he was unable to work.  Fernando asked if we would support Owen so yet again he wouldn’t have to transition to another school and start again, as well give him a break from the burdens no kid should have to deal with by sending him to camp and letting him just be a kid.”  Jennifer Mercanti, Request for Support Administrator

“I approached the Charity of Hope to assist a single mom of four, who lost her job and was struggling financially. She needed support to provide the basic needs of her children, including food, clothing and beds for her children to sleep in.  Charity of Hope granted these gifts that gave hope to the family.”  Tina Marie Destro, The Financial Company

“Gavin is a high-school student who lives on is on his own in a rooming house. He just got a part-time job at Fortino’s, but is in need of help for his immediate future including rent, food and basic necessities.  He is a very responsible student and hopes to attend Mohawk College next year. Despite his personal situation, he is very diligent and works very hard to achieve his goals.”  Tony Perri, School Trustee and Charity of Hope Volunteer

“I approached the Charity of Hope to assist a single mom of four, who lost her job and was struggling financially. She needed support to provide the basic needs for her children, including food, clothing and beds for her children to sleep in.  Charity of Hope granted these gifts that gave hope to the family.”  Tina Marie Destro, The Financial Company

“I met with Jodie and Caleb this week after reading an article in the Spectator about a family in need. Jodie has two children with Schwartz-Jampel syndrome. Her son Caleb had a tracheotomy this year and he is in need of medical supplies which Jodie cannot afford.”  Roma Mercanti, Request for Support Administrator

“Mackenzie recently had a hip surgery which was unsuccessful, so she requires additional surgeries in the near future.  During this stressful time the Charity of Hope gave her the gifts of mobility and education. As a result of your generous donations the Charity of Hope was able to pay for Mackenzie’s wheel chair rental, hospital transportation and tutoring fees for when she cannot attend school.”  Don Mallette, Larch After School Program

“I left an abusive relationship and my sons and I stayed at a shelter for a while until I got on my feet.  I work two jobs and am renting a small townhouse. My sons and I have very little furniture and I would like to support to purchase beds, winter coats, clothing and boots for my family.  Also, my 10-year-old son has a severe learning disability, and an iPad would help me teach him at home using these programs.”  Amazing Hard Working Mom

“There is no doubt in my mind that Roland will be successful in life and that it is no coincidence that he chose the social service program at Humber College as his major. He will now continue his mission to make things better for the disenfranchised people in society as he can empathize with their struggle. Thank you, Charity of Hope, for your part in shaping Roland into the person he is today.”  Fernando Costa, Educational Councillor

Anita’s Story – 2017 Edge Spirit Award Winner

Samidha’s Story – 2016 Edge Spirit Award Winner

My name is Samidha and I am currently in grade 12 at Cathedral High School.  I am honoured to share my story with all of you but before I do, I would like to specifically thank a few people.

Firstly, I would like to thank my guidance counselors, Mrs. Vesprini-Jordan and Mrs. Marrazzo for nominating me for the Edge Spirit Award.  Even if I hadn’t won, I am very grateful that they thought I was a worthy candidate.

Secondly, I would like to thank the Charity of Hope for selecting me as this year’s recipient.  Having read about Mr. Mercanti’s legacy I am inspired to continue to pursue my lifelong goals without allowing hurdles to stop me. This award will not only help me financially, but has instilled in me confidence and most importantly, has given me hope. Read More

A little bit about my life: I was born and raised in India with my parents. I have a younger sister and an older brother. My mother had a PhD in Literature and my father has a Master’s in Commerce.  Their work caused us to move a lot back in India. And I mean a lot, which meant attending many schools and so keeping friends was difficult.  I did however, have my siblings, which was great.  We played all the time, which obviously included the pulling of hair and purposely getting one another in trouble.My childhood is one of the most cherished memories I have and I wish that for every child in every country.  However, my life took an unexpected turn when I was 7 years old.  My beautiful mother passed away.  My father had the most difficult time; he struggled at work, fell into a depression and suffered greatly when the stock market crashed in 2008.

Until my dad recovered, we were placed in boarding school, but my brother had to attend elsewhere.  Every day my sister and I were picked on by the older girls because we were the newest and the youngest.

Soon to follow, my father decided we would move to Canada.  He pulled us from school and home-schooled us for 2 years in an attempt to help us learn the English language more quickly.  In 2010 we moved to Canada, which was both amazing and incredibly challenging.  Adapting to a new culture, new lifestyle, new school system and language coupled with the financial difficulties my father continued to suffer, made it extremely difficult to settle down.

After 2 years of instability, the Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Hamilton stepped in and decided it was best if my siblings and I entered into temporary care until my dad got back on his feet.  Being in Foster Care is a journey that I am still on.  Apart from attending over 6 different elementary schools, I have been to 3 different High Schools and have lived with 4 different foster families all within a 2-year span.   As soon as we were placed into care, our brother was taken from us.  Never once have we been able to live with our big brother.

My first foster home was an obvious challenge from the start because my sister and I were living with a family that did not share the same cultural background as us.  They had 2 other foster daughters and 2 of their own children so 6 kids in total!  As expected, it was too much and after about 6 months, one week before Christmas, we were moved into our second foster home.

The family was nice but wanted us to pick between our father and them.  I could not make that commitment because I refuse to give up on my dad.  SO…I was moved yet again, but this time, my sister stayed behind.  That was not easy.  She is my other half. I can’t really describe to you how it feels to be now taken from both my brother and my sister as a child.  It is something that I will never be able to get back in my life – growing up with my siblings.

I was moved to Welland since there weren’t any foster homes available in Hamilton at the time…Another new school, new community, new peers.  I knew no one.  It was hard.  Not to mention that the home I moved into had 11 cats and was dealing with bed bug issues.  The foster boy living there had been sleeping on the couch for 3 months because of the bed bugs.

I was forced to call the Agency but I learned a great deal from this situation.  I learned that I had the strength to take control of my life and continue to fight for what is right.

I am a Harry Potter fan…I hope some of you here are also!  I would like to share a quote that has influenced my decisions in my new life in Canada. It is from Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore:  “It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities”.

What I have come to believe is that it is how we respond to situations life throws us that reflects our true character and since realizing this I made a very crucial decision: TO BE POSITIVE, OPTIMISTIC, TO TAKE ON ANY CHALLENGES LIFE WILL PRESENT ME.

Two years ago in 2014, I moved back to Hamilton and currently am still living with the same foster mom.

After having attended two other High Schools, I have finally found my home at Cathedral.  I can confidently say that I have found life-long friends and have been taught and nurtured by the best teachers at Cathedral. To me this is the definition of family.  It is their support, love and care that have encouraged me to embrace the challenges and triumphs of my life.

As an active member of the school community, I’ve taken part in our school’s athletic and co-curricular life.  I love giving back to my Hamilton community by volunteering at the local library as a reading buddy and homework tutor. This year I was also the captain of the field hockey team and currently hold a position on our school’s Student Council.  My academic average is 84% and my goal is to attend Queen’s, Western or McMaster Universities for a Bachelor`s Degree in Commerce.

In closing, it is an honour to receive an award in memory of Mr. Morris Mercanti, as I hope to one day leave an extraordinary legacy much like his.

Shauna’s Story Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 9.16.52 AM

I would like to thank Canon Canada and the Charity of Hope for donating a camera to me. I am very grateful for the donation, I was speechless when the camera was presented to me at your gala. I am enjoying taking pictures with it, I have taken so many ever since you surprised me with it. I appreciate you charging the camera for me so I could start taking pictures at the gala. The camera will be a great help during the rest of my high school year, when I attend Mohawk College for photography in September and throughout my career. Once again, thank you so much for MY camera, I will always be thankful for it.  Sincerely, Shauna

Cherise’s Story

12717774_574941759327856_5153807240855897944_n-1My name is Cherise Baker and I just want to tell you about the Charity of Hope and what they did for me. I am the youngest of seven children and when I was four, my father passed away from a brain aneurysm and heart attack. It was a hard time for everyone especially my mom, she had to raise seven children on her own for thirteen years. The eldest of my siblings, my brother Ray, became the head of the family and for a while we were ok. Barely two years later though, Ray passed away from cancer and this forced my mom to go back to work, but she had an accident at work which cause tore her rotary cuffs in both shoulders. The damage was permanent and my mom could no longer work and due to the fact that my mom worked irregularly, she could not get unemployment; in fact, she received very little assistance from the government. It was because of God and support from family and friends, my mom was able to keep the family afloat.

Then I entered St. John’s College (high school) and came into contact with Tom Mercante my Hospitality and Tourism teacher. Under him I was the Breakfast Coordinator, serving breakfast to students (for free) twice a week as part of Food for Thought. When I was in my final year, my Foods class decided to go to New York during March Break as a class trip but unfortunately I had to back out due to not being able to pay for my spot within the short time period that we were given. Then Mr. Mercante came to me and told me that there was a spot available for the trip which has been paid for by Charity of Hope that he was a part of. Let me tell you, never in my life have I been so thankful to a charity who did not know me, yet they were willing to fund me so I could be part of this school trip. Later on when I was getting ready to graduate, I was told by Mr. Mercante that there was this bursary provided by the same charity. When I was applying, I was hopeful but at the same time I wondered if I really could get this bursary and when I got the phone call telling me that I was a recipient, I actually cried. To some, this bursary is not a lot of money, but when you come from a family situation where times are tough, it is a lot. It was more than I imagined and I realized that there are people in my community who do care about students like me. They want to give me the chance to make something of myself and more importantly, they gave me hope, hope that I can actually succeed.

That is why when I was asked to be on the committee for this charity, I said yes. I said yes because I want to give others hope, a hope for a better future, for better things to come. Too many students like me give up on things like school because they believe that due to their situation, there is no hope and there is no one who tries to give them hope. I want others to know that there are people out there who do care and they want to help; this is what this charity is about, this is why it’s called the Charity of Hope.

Roland’s Hope Story – June 5, 2015

roland It is with great pleasure that I, Fernando Costa, share the story of Roland, who became a student at St. Thomas Aquinas Secondary School (S.T.A.) in Oakville, Ontario in 2012. I was assigned by the guidance department to oversee his transition to the country and to the school.

Roland was a refugee from Ghana who came to Canada with his mother. He had faced the struggle of hunger, lack of electricity, minimal education and violence on the streets in Ghana. He was hoping for a better future in Canada. Read More


Mitchell’s Story – 2015 Edge Spirit Award Winner

Nothing I have went through is going to stop me from accomplishing what I want to accomplish
Mitchell, Hamilton, Ontario


Ryan’s Story – 2014 Edge Spirit Award Winner

I realized that you really need others in your life to help you overcome challenges
Ryan, Hamilton, Ontario




Every December, the Hamilton Downtown Family YMCA hosts Santa’s Ultimate Chill Zone, a holiday party designed to bring joy and smiles to local children regardless of their family’s financial circumstances.

Kaw Thyu and her two younger brothers especially loved the face painting table, exotic animals and of course meeting Santa and Mrs. Claus.

This annual holiday party for 1,000 inner-city Hamilton children also includes inflatable bouncers, children’s entertainers and treats. Children take home goodie bags, toys and a four-month YMCA family membership.

The memberships, made possible through the YMCA Strong Kids Campaign, mean children like Kaw Thyu and her family can access YMCA programming that helps them stay active, make new friends and get acquainted with Y staff who are caring role models. After four months, families can receive subsidized memberships.

“It’s a very special party,” said the children’s mother Say Thaw Paw, who raised her family in a Thai refugee camp where their home was a bamboo shelter without electricity or running water. “We’re so lucky to have come to Canada,” she said.

The YMCA is grateful to The Charity of Hope for giving children like Kaw Thyu and her family lifelong holiday memories and an opportunity to enjoy YMCA programming. “Your kindness and generosity brighten the lives of some really special kids,” said Shelley Kuzma, Senior Development Officer of Annual Giving for the YMCA of Hamilton/Burlington/Brantford. “We are grateful for the support of the Charity of Hope and all the things you do for families and children in our community.”

Liberty for Youth

liberty-for-youthThanks to the generosity of the Charity of Hope, Liberty For Youth was able to expand their programming to include females in 2014. Liberty For Youth has been able to impact the lives of 9 females during the 2014 year. Erika is one of the females in Liberty For Youth programming. Prior to attending the program she often fought with her parents and siblings. Her mother worried about her well being, as she often demonstrated destructive behavior toward her family members. In many instances there was police involvement due to Erika’s lifestyle choices.

The Bright Choices program that Erika attends at Liberty For Youth emphasizes the value of character and reconciliation with others, as well as the importance of education. In this program the goal is to motivate at-risk youth, like Erika, to complete high school and to encourage better lifestyle choices. Since attending the Bright Choices program Erika says she now puts all of her energy into loving her mom and siblings and helping out at home. Her future desire is to complete high school without getting into trouble and to eventually attend college.

Reconciliation with her family and the motivation to do well in school would not have been possible for this at-risk female youth if it was not for the support of Charity of Hope.

Brittany-Lyne’s Story

I hope I continue to make the Charity of Hope proud

BrittanyWhen I heard about the Charity of Hope, it did just that; gave me hope. In my senior year in high school, my wish was to attend post-secondary school; I would be the first in my whole family.  Therefore, this was a challenge I wanted to take on. Although I had the determination to pursue university, I was lacking funding to achieve my goal. Thankfully, the Charity of Hope aided me in my journey. Their donation allowed me to go to school and continue working part-time with little worry. The funding allowed me to purchase the necessities I needed to live on my own, purchase equipment as a Doula (Labour Support Person) and as a photographer.

The generosity from the Charity of Hope has changed my outlook on my first year at university and will continue for times to come. They gave me hope, comfort and the extra support I needed to further my education and optimistic attitude. I hope that I continue to make the Charity of Hope proud!

Thanks for all your help!
Brittany-Lyne, Hamilton, Ontario