Sheena Carpenter was only 22 when she died in 1993 from an eating disorder. Her mother, Lynn, had been frustrated by how few resources there were to help people like Sheena.
After Sheena’s death, Lynn’s friends and colleagues at Sun Media were determined to honour Sheena by creating something tangible that would truly help. They met with eating disorders experts and held focus groups with potential clients and the vision for Sheena’s Place began to take shape. It was to be a warm and welcoming centre providing hope and support for clients and their families. The services would be provided free of charge with no waitlist. And it would begin to bridge some significant mental health gaps in the community.
Trudy Eagan, a friend and colleague of Lynn’s, worked tirelessly to secure funding, gifts in kind, tradesmen to donate their time, and others to supply furniture, carpeting and window coverings. The cause was compelling and no one said no.
Another friend, Jane Fenton, had personal experience with an eating disorder and she had quietly counselled Sheena. To raise awareness about the new Sheena’s Place, Jane answered hundreds of calls, did interviews on radio and TV and shared her experiences with a wide range of audiences
Lynn Carpenter’s warmth and compassion in the face of grief was at the heart of Sheena’s Place. She wanted every person who walked through our doors to know they had found a place of safety, hope and support.
When Sheena’s Place opened in 1996, it was a team effort involving the founders – Lynn, Trudy and Jane – members of the board and committees, donors, group facilitators, volunteers and staff. Those who followed over the years in these roles have worked hard and with great heart to uphold the original vision and mission.
We are grateful to the donors whose generous contributions ensure that Sheena’s Place and our life-saving programs continue, free of charge. We look forward to a day when there is no longer a need for Sheena’s Place. Until then, our doors will stay open for individuals who come to us so that we can help them discover their light and shine it in the world.
The land on which Sheena’s Place gathers is the traditional territory of the Anishnaabe, Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, the Haudenosaunee, and the Huron-Wendat. Indigenous peoples have lived on and cared for this land for more than 15,000 years. This territory is covered by the Dish With One Spoon Wampum Belt Treaty. Today, Toronto is still the home to many Indigenous peoples from across Turtle Island. Sheena’s Place acknowledges that those of us who are settlers on the land directly benefit from the process of colonization. Sheena’s Place also understands that although land acknowledgments are a first step, reconciliation requires significantly more work. To learn more, you can read the Indigenous Ally Toolkit created by the Montreal Indigenous Community NETWORK.