This holiday season we at easy period have chosen to give back by donating menstrual hygiene supplies to the women of Sistering and volunteering our time to serve meals at their holiday gathering. This gathering brought together 200+ women for a turkey dinner with all the fixings. In this article we will share with you the history of this amazing organization and how you can get involved with all they do.
What is sistering?
On their website, Sistering describes themselves as “Serving homeless, marginalized and low income women in Toronto.” This description is purposely vague as the organization has such a wide variety of resources available to women in the city.
Sistering serves a racially, culturally and linguistically diverse population in a positive environment through shared commitment to principles of equity and access in a welcoming, non judgemental environment.
- Food program
- Housing support
- Case support
- Health promotion activities
- Employment and income support
- Creative writing and literacy program
- And much more
For a complete list of services provided by Sistering please visit: http://www.sistering.org/What_We_Do/Drop_In/Drop_In.aspx
The most touching part of their website in my opinion is the history of how sistering came to be. Pulled directly from Sistering.org, here is their story:
In 1980, a concerned group of women came together to develop a strategy to meet the needs of the growing number of homeless and transient women in Toronto. It was a mixed group of women, with representatives from women’s agencies, community residents and women who were living in hostels. Women were being discharged from mental health facilities, and many had nowhere to go. They were alienated from their families, and community supports were seriously inadequate. Sistering was primarily created for these women. However, it soon became apparent that there were other marginalized and vulnerable women who could benefit from this unique service; they included women leaving abusive family situations, women who were widowed and pension-less, and young women involved in prostitution and drugs.
In 1981, Sistering opened its doors in an emergency shelter at Bathurst and Dundas. By January 1982, the program moved to Scadding Court Community Centre to accommodate the growing number of women seeking support. The Drop In centre opened, and began providing services and supports 5 days a week. After two years, the space could no longer safely accommodate the increasing number of women. In September 1983, Sistering moved to its well known home on College Street.
In October 1987, the Drop In began opening on weekends, and that same year, the Outreach program in Parkdale opened its doors. After 10 years on College Street, Sistering became the victim of urban gentrification as the building was sold to make room for a condominium development.
In 2004, Sistering moved to a temporary location at the Heydon Park School. After a three year search for a suitable space, Sistering opened its doors at 962 Bloor Street, West.
The realities of the early 1980's have not changed much for many women who visit Sistering today, 35 years later. Low levels of social assistance and disability payment combined with the chronic shortage of safe, affordable and permanent housing continues to undermine women's efforts for independence and dignity.
How to get involved
Volunteer: Sistering volunteers participate in a broad range of activities, from serving a holiday meal to sharing professional skills on an on-going basis. Sistering volunteers are essential to their ability to continue offering life-enhancing programs to women with very little access to even the basics of everyday life. Apply here.
Have a speaker or two attend your next meeting to talk about the positive impact Sistering has on our community. For more information please call 416-926-9762 ext. 239.
Donate to providing food, shelter and a welcoming space for marginalized and low income women in the city.