Our founder, June Callwood, was a celebrated writer and a passionate activist determined to make the world a better place. In 1982, she helped launch Jessie’s: The June Callwood Centre for Young Women (formerly Jessie’s Centre for Teenagers) in downtown Toronto.
The Centre was established to offer comprehensive services to pregnant teens and young mothers and their children facing obstacles such as poverty and social isolation with few programs available to provide help.
Today, with 20 staff members and 80 volunteers, we pursue a holistic and sustainable approach, recognizing the importance of economic and social conditions on health outcomes.
Jessie’s offers a range of services to help empower the young women we serve - those who choose to terminate their pregnancies, as well as the pregnant teens who come through our doors who choose to have their babies. Our programming is developed to help each of them reach their full potential as engaged and independent adults.
Our goal is for each young woman who comes through our doors to: find safe affordable housing access comprehensive health services for herself and her baby complete her high school education
Along with our generous donors, community partners and supportive neighbourhood businesses, we serve over 1,000 pregnant teenagers, young parents and their children every year.
In 2010, Jessie’s Centre received the $50,000 Ruth Atkinson Hindmarsh Award celebrating one of Ontario’s leading child and youth organizations.
“Never in my life have I done anything [other than my family] I am more proud of than Jessie’s.”
- June Callwood, Founder
Our Mission and Guiding Principles
Our mission is to nurture the healthy development of pregnant teenagers, young parents and their children.
Our vision is to enhance lifelong positive outcomes for pregnant young women and young parents.
We abide by the Social Determinants of Health Framework adopted by Health Canada that acknowledges the importance of economic and social conditions on health outcomes. Accordingly, our approach to nurturing the healthy development of pregnant teenagers and young families focuses on three key pillars of success: 1) housing; 2) health; 3) education.
Pro-choice. We are committed to feminism and supporting a woman’s right to make choices about her sexual health and pregnancy options.
Comprehensive, accessible services. We strive to offer comprehensive and accessible services for all pregnant young women, young parents and their children.
Individual choice. We provide opportunities for pregnant teenagers and young parents to exercise individual choice, experience personal empowerment, resolve problems successfully and move toward adult independence.
Non-discrimination. Our approach to service delivery is supportive, respectful, and anti-discriminatory.
Social Change. Jessie’s advocates for systemic social change designed to promote equity, fairness and respect toward children and young parents.
Respect for the dignity and independence of people with disabilities. We are committed to ensuring that people with disabilities have access to our services.
Liora Sobel, Social Enterprise Director
Joanna Mendez, Program Manager
Sherry Rutter, Youth Leadership Programs Lead
Beth Poulin, Food Program Coordinator
Deirdre McKibbon, Parent-Child Development Worker
Natalie Sgambelluri, Respite Care Coordinator
Swap Shop Program
Alexia Schell, Volunteer Coordinator
Jennifer Bonilla, Counsellor/Case Worker
Regi Davis Mangaly , Counsellor/Case Worker
Hodan Osman, Counsellor/Case Worker
Iris Humphrey, Housing Access Worker
Faith Hatchett, Health Promotion Nurse
Linda Gallant, Infant-Child Worker
Monika Obermeier, Parent-Child Centre Lead
Renee Chin, Infant-Child Worker
Board of Directors
Rebecca Ho, Chair
Rebecca is Project Manager with the Rehabilitative Care Alliance. Trained as an engineer and a graduate of a Masters in Health Administration, she has applied her data-driven and systematic approach in various roles at Princess Margaret Hospital and Cancer Care Ontario. Rebecca has volunteered on the Board of a community arts organization in Toronto for the past 6 years.
Najma Kahiye, Vice-Chair
Najma is a Registered Nurse (RN) and policy professional at the Ontario government. She has held progressive roles in policy and program development in the Ministry of Community and Social Services and most recently in the Ministry of Housing, where she contributed to the Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy Update. Prior to joining the Ontario government, Najma worked for the Region of Waterloo in social services delivery, and at Kitchener Housing Inc., as a Housing Support Coordinator. Najma also works part-time at Toronto Public Health as a Sexual Health Counsellor, where she provides anonymous, confidential and non-judgemental advice and counselling services to Ontarians.
Camilla is a Chartered Professional Accountant and Senior Manager in KPMG’s Financial Institutions and Real Estate practice with expertise in real estate investment trust audits, public offerings, market transactions and pension plans. She is one of the leaders of KPMG’s firm-wide volunteer programs. She has volunteered as a mentor with the Youth in Motion program and the Toronto Region Immigration Employment Council.
Trish Roberts, Secretary
Trish is a Senior Account Manager of Relationship Management at CIBC Mellon Global Securities Services Company. She has acquired 28 years of knowledge in pension management and obtained the Osgoode Certificate in Pension Law. Trish is Chair of CIBC Mellon’s Women’s Initiatives Network Committee, Member of the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Committee, and a consultant for the Toronto Settlement Collaborative with the United Way.
Connie is Director, Human Resources and Employee Relations at Coca-Cola Refreshments. She is a specialist in human resources with experience in both the private and public sectors. Connie is passionate about coaching and developing the next set of leaders while helping business achieve results through strategic partnerships.
Jane has a passion for empowering women and has mentored women in the workplace throughout her career as an engineer, global marketing executive and Toronto-based consultant. She currently works as an Individual Coach and a Non-profit board coach, recently advising a battered women’s shelter. She has a Masters in Engineering and a Masters Certificate in Coaching.
Jessica is a Communication Services Officer at the Independent Electricity System Operator. Jessica is heavily involved in pro bono doula work and provides one-on-one support for clients from St. Stephen’s Community House and The Stop’s Healthy Beginnings Program. She holds a degree in Women’s Studies & Biology from Trent University, a Sales & Marketing Fundamentals Certificate from the University of Waterloo, and is currently working on a Strategic Public Relations Certificate at the University of Toronto.
Linda Falcao Cardoso
Linda is a former Jessie's participant. She is currently finishing her second year at George Brown College in the Assaulted Women and Children Counselor Advocate Program ( AWCCA). Linda is an experienced public speaker and is currently apart of the United Way Speakers Bureau. Linda has spent the past for years working in the social service sector and is an advocate for young mothers
Lauren is a partner in the Litigation Group at Goodmans LLP where she carries on a diversified advocacy practice, specializing in commercial litigation. Lauren is an active mentor in her practice group and integrally involved in the associate and student programs at the firm. Lauren believes strongly in the power of opportunity, positive support and mentorship and is pleased to be a part of Jessie’s.
Natasha is employed as a Senior Planner at the City of Toronto, in the City Planning Division. She also serves as the Co-Chair of the Toronto Public Service Women's Network. In her current role, she works to advance the City's broader building objectives by creating communities that accommodate growth and manage change, in determining the City's best practices for the utilization of land, infrastructure and resources. Her passion for the "potential of people" has translated into a strategic objective, to promote positive social change. In furthering this objective, Natasha helps individuals harness their abilities to enhance capacity building in diverse working environments. Throughout her 16 year professional career in both the public and private sectors, she has also mentored countless professionals, and volunteered with various organizations.
Stephanie is a former Jessie's participant, which sparked her interest in having a career in the social services sector. For the past 10 years she has found her passion in working with homeless women in the City of Toronto, and is now Hostel Manager for The Salvation Army Florence Booth House, an emergency women's shelter. Stephanie is honored to have the opportunity to give back to Jessie's as a Board Member as the centre allowed her to have so much hope for the future.
Sophie is a Senior Treasury Analyst at BlueCat Networks with expertise in cash and liquidity management, financial modelling, and project delivery. After graduating from Western University’s Ivey Business School, she joined CPP Investment Board where she worked with the company’s investment teams in various finance and operations roles. Sophie also has experience in business strategy & planning, data analytics, and project management in both the public and private sectors. She is passionate about equality and is eager to be a part of Jessie’s.
Debi was a corporate and tax lawyer and a member of the bars of New York, Ontario and Quebec. She has spent the past twenty years raising her four children while consulting on finance and tax matters for a private enterprise. Debi strongly believes in the adage “it takes a village” and is proud of the work Jessie’s does to provide a community of care and support to its participants
Sasha is a Senior Manager, Digital Channel Adoption at Rogers Communications, with expertise in marketing, communications, sales, and digital strategy. She has an MBA as well as a Bachelor of Commerce degree. She volunteers with the Rogers Women’s' Network, and with WCT (Women in Communications and Technology). Sasha advocates for empowering women who face challenges in all areas of life, and hopes to do so through her work with Jessie's.
Andrew is the Teen Programming Coordinator at Planned Parenthood Toronto, where he oversees the team behind TeenHealthSource.com. He is also the Assistant Director of the Toronto Comic Arts Festival.
Why Support US
Jessie’s can be the difference between a lonely and frightening start to motherhood and a new beginning filled with hope and promise.
Jessie’s serves pregnant teens and young women who face poverty and social isolation. Almost 92% of young mothers under the age of 25 are living in poverty. Most are single parents. (Women Moving Forward Canada, 2010).
We pursue a holistic and sustainable approach, based on the Social Determinants of Health framework adopted by Health Canada, helping each young woman we support reach her full potential as an adult and as a new mother. We help her find safe affordable housing, access to comprehensive health services for herself and her baby, and an opportunity to complete her high school education.
Jessie’s is the only pro-choice organization in Toronto specifically mandated to serve pregnant teens. Jessie’s supports a woman’s right to make choices about her sexual health and her pregnancy options including abortion, adoption and parenthood.
Jessie’s relies on a large team of skilled volunteers who play key roles, helping us keep costs down while maintaining a high level of service delivery.
At Jessie’s, we recognize the importance of measuring the impact of our services so that we can be confident that generous donors and partners see value in their investment. Some of these benefits are tangible and easy to measure such as the number of participants who complete their high school education and deliver healthy babies. Our programs create value in many other ways that are sometimes more difficult to measure, such as the positive influence a mother has on her child’s development when she gains self-esteem and a positive outlook on her future.
Pregnant teens, young parents and their children access services at Jessie’s annually
Counselling sessions provided
Youth attend Community Education presentations to dispel myths about being a teenage parent and provide information about healthy sexuality and informed decision-making
Nutritious meals and snacks served
Partners and Donors
We want to thank the generous individuals and organizations who are part of our extended family. Our donors and partners help make Jessie’s a second home for pregnant teens and young moms.
Annual Reports and Financial Statements
This past year, our direction remained focused on addressing the social conditions that adversely impact pregnant teens, young parents, and their children. While elevating our current services, we also piloted an innovative new Community Economic Development project, A-Dressing Success, to give young moms an opportunity to develop workplace skills.