Imagine not knowing where you are going to sleep tonight. Or get something to eat. Or take a shower.
Imagine your home is the street and your family is your friends who also live rough.
The women who come to Sistering 24/7 Drop In live this truth.
Sistering is a trans-inclusive agency supporting women from across Toronto who experience first hand the impact of poverty and marginalization. They may be homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. They are a diverse group, aged 16 to 80-plus; women with mental health or substance use issues; women who have experienced or are experiencing trauma and violence; immigrant and refugee women; women with health issues and disabilities; and women without legal status.
Sistering’s goal: to create a safe, non-judgmental space for women who experience social isolation, homeless or precarious housing, trauma and violence, discrimination, substance use or need mental health support. Guided by principles of feminism, anti-racism and anti-oppression, Sistering works in collaboration with others in the community to change the social conditions that endanger women’s welfare.
The agency provides basic necessities including three hot meals a day plus soup and sandwiches overnight; showers and laundry facilities; clothing; and Internet access plus support services such as crisis intervention and trauma-informed counselling; housing support; and onsite access to primary healthcare with general practitioners, psychiatrists and a nurse.
But that’s not all. The Sistering team recognizes the importance of social interaction and offers programs and activities that encourage participants to engage with each other and with the larger community.
Last year, almost 3,000 of Toronto’s most marginalized women walked through the doors of Sistering’s 24/7 Drop In. Total overnight visits: more than 11,000. Seventy women a day visited Sistering’s Outreach Drop In in Parkdale. Sisters Kitchen served more than 155,000 meals.
By treating each woman with dignity, Sistering fosters a space for emotional and physical safety where participants feel valued and respected, with equitable opportunities to thrive and participate in inclusive communities. For the women who come to Sistering, the experience of growing in a place where they can make meaningful contributions to their community is transformative not only for the community, but also for themselves.
“Being a member of the Sistering community,” says Debbie, “saved my life.”
As with many growing organizations, valuable resources including time, expertise and funding are continuously strained. This is why Sistering is looking for digital solutions to help it scale. When speaking about the impact of Gift the Code, Patricia O’Connell, Executive Director at Sistering says, “Gift of Code 2017 is a remarkable opportunity for Sistering to work with leading-edge digital problem-solvers who can help our team better serve our community (including participants, supporters, volunteers and donors) and realize our vision. We are very excited – and grateful.”
Sistering is a transformational organization that is shaping the future of women in Toronto. By creating solutions that streamline communication, process volunteers and organize opportunities, Gift the Code teams will empower Sistering to have a greater impact. Register for Gift the Code 2017 to play a part in this work!
Interested in learning more about the other charities? Check out their charity pages!
*Sistering uses an inclusive definition of ‘women’ and welcomes trans women, genderqueer women, non-binary and gender-expansive people. The agency recognizes that gender is an evolving concept and works to be inclusive of the full gender spectrum.