2021 is a special year for Sheena’s Place, as we enter our 25th year of providing support for folks with eating disorders (EDs). A quarter of a century ago, Lynn Carpenter, along with close friends Jane Fenton, and Trudy Eagan, demonstrated remarkable resilience, following the tragic loss of Lynn’s daughter Sheena to an ED. Dismayed by the lack of relevant resources, they set out to make a difference for others, by creating a space for folks to find hope and support. Over the years, staff, volunteers and group members have developed a welcoming community, working hard to eliminate stigma and transform lives. Many share that Sheena’s Place has positively changed their lives, and altered the course of their eating disorders – fulfilling the vision of Sheena’s Place’s founders.
As we made our way through the challenge that was 2020, the support from, and for, Sheena’s Place did not relent. The team showed its dedication and passion, pivoting to online services swiftly and with much care. Our facilitators rose to occasion and adapted to the new environment, and our participants showed up for themselves and for each other, reinforcing the importance of community support during times of isolation. While many in the charity sector wondered anxiously what the effects of Covid-19 might mean for fundraising, we were blessed by the ongoing generosity of our community. In November, we held a virtual version of our annual gala to overwhelmingly positive reviews. By the year-end, we had far exceeded our fundraising goals that had been set prior to the global pandemic! In retrospect, this should not surprise anyone. Sheena’s Place’s 25-year history is filled with stories of commitment, dedication, and generosity to providing support to those affected by EDs.
The fundraising success of the past year could not have come at a better time. The pervasive nature and the devastating impacts of EDs were made worse by the pandemic. Increased anxiety and hardship in the form of isolation, financial insecurity, food insecurity, risks to health, and reduced access to services and supports made a difficult situation even more challenging. Reports from organizations throughout the GTA and across the world, confirmed increases in mental health symptoms and crises. This week, the president and CEO of SickKids reported that the hospital saw higher numbers in their eating disorders unit than ever before. EDs have the dual impact on an individual’s psychological and physical well-being, and result in alarming rates of suicide and health-related deaths. The need for support is more critical now than ever.
Sheena’s Place will continue with our commitment to providing support to those with EDs and their families and friends. In 2021, we look to further enhance our programming and explore new ways in which we can help. We are also looking forward to doing some reflection on the past 25 years. If you have a memory or a story that you’d like to share, reach out to us on our social media channels, or feel free to give me a call at 416-927-2467, or write me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, tune into our social media platforms for upcoming announcements of fun and informative activities that will take place throughout the year—including special events planned for May and November. In the meantime, please stay safe, be kind to yourself, and offer support to your family and friends to the extent that you can.