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Sistering is one of the Agencies Needlework Guild supports…

By EMILY MATHIEU Housing Reporter | Toronto Star
Friday, Dec. 22nd, 2017

This Christmas, as they do every year, the community at Sistering will come together to try to brighten the holidays for women who have nowhere else to go.

“We don’t want that time to be a downer, we want that time to feel like they have someone in their lives, that they have someone who cares — and that’s us,” said Karleen Spence, a community support worker at the 24/7 drop-in on Bloor St. W.

Sistering is a community hub where women can access health services, employment counselling and housing support, and also take knitting or yoga classes and share meals with friends.

It is also increasingly being used as a makeshift home for women with complex health issues who can’t get into the shelter system or afford a place to call home. At night, they spread out to sleep in reclining chairs or on mats on the floor.

Wendy Bray, Sistering’s fund development manager, said the goal year-round is to help women in a tough place feel loved and supported.

“With this coming holiday season, the number of women who are coming to Sistering has increased significantly,” Bray said, especially as the temperatures drop.

“A hug goes a long way to someone who is feeling like ‘I have no one’ and someone who is feeling ‘What is my purpose here in life?’ I am supposed to inform that person that your purpose is bigger than what you see,” says Karleen Spence, a community support worker at Sistering. (ANNE-MARIE JACKSON / TORONTO STAR)
At Christmas, their community gets a bit of extra support through donated gift bags and boxes, including boxes from the Toronto Star Santa Claus Fund.

Launched in 1906, the fund was created to bring a bit of holiday magic to struggling families, and is made possible thanks to the generosity of Star readers.

Volunteers assemble holiday gift bags for women who find themselves at Sistering this Christmas. (ANNE-MARIE JACKSON / TORONTO STAR)
“A hug goes a long way to someone who is feeling like ‘I have no one’ and someone who is feeling ‘What is my purpose here in life?’ I am supposed to inform that person that your purpose is bigger than what you see,” says Karleen Spence, a community support worker at Sistering. (ANNE-MARIE JACKSON / TORONTO STAR)

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