About Ernestine’s Women’s Shelter
Ernestine’s Women’s Shelter was opened in 1983 by a group of community members who saw a need for a safe place for women and children fleeing violence and abuse.
The founders were pleased to name the shelter after Ernestine van Marle, a local community activist who gave them support and guidance as they began the shelter, and continues to support the shelter’s efforts in ending violence against women and children until her passing in 2006. Ernestine’s embodied all the characteristics that our shelter aspires towards: energetic, community-minded, supportive, and dedicated.
Our Mission: Why We Exist
Ernestine’s is a non-profit organization that provides advocacy, crisis intervention and shelter to Women, Two-Spirit, Trans, Non-binary and Gender Diverse individuals and their children experiencing violence. Our services are evidence-informed and driven by values of inclusion, anti-racism, anti-oppression and respect. We seek to interrupt violence through education and advocacy for social justice.
Ernestine’s Women’s Shelter: What We Do
Ernestine’s is a 32-bed emergency shelter with 14 private bedrooms.
We provide a home for individuals and their children – who stay with us from six months to over one year – until we find appropriate housing for them. During their stay, we provide them with all the necessities they might need (new bedding, clothes, school supplies, toiletries, baby supplies, prescriptions not covered by OHIP, loaded Presto cards, and anything else they might need).
In addition to shelter clients, we support over 600 adults and children from across the GTA through our Outreach Program. The shelter’s Outreach clients have access to counselling services and programs as well as the shelter’s on-site donation rooms and food bank.
We provide a range of holistic services to our shelter and Outreach clients. Our services and programs include 24-hour crisis assistance, individual and group-based counselling support, skills exchange programs, as well as legal, housing, and immigration support and advocacy.
Since we opened our doors in 1983, we have supported over 15,000 individuals and children.
Thanks to our supporters, last year (2021-2022) we were able to
- Respond to 1,258 crisis calls
- Provide shelter and support to 50 adults and 35 children, who called Ernestine’s their home
- Offer lifelines to 286 adults and 418 children in the community through our Outreach Programs
- Provide 397 check-ins and supportive engagement to children and youth, who form the majority of our clients
- 214 adults and 401 children were serviced as a result of the 637 times Ernestine’s food support services were accessed. Ernestine’s has continued to see an increased need for our services since the beginning of the pandemic.
Our Guiding Principles
Ernestine’s Women’s Shelter recognizes the impact of violence on children, and acknowledges that the rights of children are separate and distinct from their parents.
Ernestine’s recognizes each individual’s right to self-determination.
Ernestine’s acknowledges that violence can be, physical, emotional, psychological, and sexual.
Ernestine’s is managed by a leadership team, and is a participatory organization accountable to the Board of Directors and stakeholders’.
Ernestine’s is a collectively managed organization accountable to our Board of Directors and Stakeholders.
Ernestine’s operates from an anti-racist /anti-oppressive feminist framework.
Ernestine’s ensures there is an equitable distribution, based on need, of all resources available to the shelter.
An Anti-Racism and Anti-Oppression Framework is:
A perspective that confronts all aspects of injustice and inequality within society’s institutions, structures, systems and practices, and is intended to understand and eradicate racism and oppression in all of its forms.
At Ernestine’s, we strive to provide accessible, appropriate, and relevant services to children, youth, and women within an anti-racism anti-oppression framework.
Ernestine’s strategic planning process started in 2019, and its priorities have been identified and approved through a rigorous, consultative process. They build on the successes of the Ernestine’s 2014-2017 plan, which focused on: Partnerships, Education, and Financial Sustainability. These strategic priorities will guide our planning for programs and services, and assist our team members in prioritizing Ernestine’s operational activities.
Grow Our Revenues
Improve our resilience by expanding and enhancing revenue sources and strategies.
Assess current fundraising approaches for efficiency and effectiveness and explore new opportunities for generating sustainable revenue. Includes identifying how to strengthen the relationship with funders (e.g. via communication, reporting, recognition).
Measure Our Impact
Transition to evidence-informed service delivery.
Establish metrics to assess the effectiveness of our practices, and collect data to improve our knowledge about what drives results, and ensure the most effective mobilization of resources. Includes developing new policies and practices based on results, working with the VAW sector on benchmarking opportunities and possibly publishing our research.
Expand Our Reach
Embrace the full diversity of victims of domestic and gender-based violence.
Audit our practices, expand our mission statement and research ways to improve our inclusivity, particularly with respect to people identifying as 2SLGBTQ+, racialized, indigenous, or having disabilities. Includes developing and executing a plan to implement changes in our policies and practices, as well as community education.
Charitable Number: 10167 8969 RR0001