Shirley has been coming to My Sisters’ Place for more than 10 years. Her story has never been told. She is quick to tell you “I don’t really have a story, because most women here at My Sisters’ Place have experienced worse and they need more support than me.” But Shirley is a familiar face, and an important part of the MSP family. She has a strong and steady presence about her. She is an anchor and a ‘mother’ figure. Others look up to her.
Shirley recently went through reconstructive knee surgery and she credits the support of My Sisters’ Place through this process. “I would not have proceeded with the surgery if I did not have the support from My Sisters’ Place. I wouldn’t have been able to go through with it”. Staff and friends encouraged and reassured her pre and post-surgery, making hospital visits and visiting her at home to make sure she had what she needed. Although she is still recovering, she is grateful for the relief she has gained and is hopeful about more surgery on her other knee.
Her challenges with knee pain and limited mobility go back a long time. Before coming to My Sisters’ Place, Shirley spent most of her days alone in her home. She did not have a support network. She had heard about My Sisters’ Place from passersby and thought it was only for women who identified as homeless. One day a woman who had visited MSP convinced her to come along and she has never looked back! She recalls being pleasantly surprised with how welcoming everyone was from the minute she walked in. “I finally had a place to socialize, I felt like I was part of a community.” She shared how important it is for her to support women who are new to My Sisters’ Place, adding, “Their stories are heartbreaking”
Shirley, who is clearly passionate about MSP, spoke strongly about its impact in our community, “If My Sisters’ Place wasn’t here, it would be a disaster for women. Many would end up on the street, many would feel lost,” she said.
My Sisters’ Place is a program of CMHA Middlesex that addresses women’s mental health, and examines the intersection of women’s health with homelessness, poverty, isolation, addiction and trauma.