Dedicated to helping young mothers and their families
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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 enormous 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 parents and independent adults.
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. Learn more…
In 2010, Jessie’s Centre received the $50,000 Ruth Atkinson Hindmarsh Award celebrating one of Ontario’s leading child and youth organizations.
We're here to help
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
“Never in my life have I done anything [other than my family] I am more proud of than Jessie’s.”
Our Mission & Approach
To nurture pregnant and parenting young women and their
children as they rise to their full potential by supporting
them with access to health services, housing, education,
counselling, and other personalized supports*
connections, resources, and information they need to thrive
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
Respect for the dignity and independence of people with disabilities. We are committed to ensuring that people with disabilities have access to our services.
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
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
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.
Our Case For Support
Our Amazing Team
Every member of our staff is passionate about helping pregnant teens and young mothers get the support they need.
Joanna Mendez, Executive Director
Faith Hatchett, Director of Programs & Operations
Sutha Sivarajah, Financial Administrator
Yolanda C.Jean Gilles, Infant-Child Worker
Alexia Schell, Volunteer & In-Kind Donations Coordinator
Marcia Munroe, Food Program Coordinator
Judy Tobe, Development Associate
Michelle Bailey Scott, Health Promotion Specialist
Tieasha Walker , Counsellor/Case Manager
Valentina Malgeri , Parenting Support Worker
Alice Colbert, Housing Access Worker
Aisha Adbulkadir, Food Program Assistant
Regi Mangaly, Counsellor/Case Manager
Megan Fraser, Administrative Assistant
Kristan Graham, Infant-Child Worker
Ella Miklaucic, Community Education Program Coordinator
Marlenys Barrios, Counsellor/Case Manager
Our Board Of Directors
With special thanks to our Board Members who have helped so much. Our Board is committed to ensuring that Jessie’s is operating based upon our founding principles and every Board Member brings with them a unique outlook and wealth of experience.
Our Board Chair
Britt is a psychotherapist working in private practice. Prior to this work, she has spent over a decade in community organizing and social services doing things like case management, housing support, and outreach. Britt remains active in advocacy efforts around mental health, community alternatives to policing, and broader social justice issues. She holds an MA in Counseling Psychology, a diploma in Child and Youth Work, and a BA in International Development Studies.
Yasmin is a long-standing supporter of Jessie’s Centre and is passionate about supporting children and youth. Yasmin has over 25 years of business and legal experience as a lawyer, an engineer and an anti-money laundering specialist. She is currently working as a Director and AML Officer at the Bank of Montreal. Yasmin graduated from Queen’s University with a Bachelor of Applied Science and Master’s in Science and from the University of British Columbia Law School in 2004. As a believer in continuous learning, she is also pursuing a certificate at the Toronto Metropolitan University in Design for Arts and Entertainment.
Shelley is currently AVP, Legal Operations and Assistant Corporate Secretary at Foresters Financial. She has over 25 years of progressively senior legal and corporate governance experience, specializing in legal operations as well as corporate secretarial and regulatory services. Over the years, Shelley has participated in a number of volunteer activities for SickKids Hospital, Habitat for Humanity, KaBOOM! Playground Builds, and most recently organized workplace volunteer events for a pre-treatment house for men awaiting admission to residential treatment programs and Patient Care kits for a SHN emergency department. Shelley is excited for the opportunity to continue to be a part of Jessie’s.
Amanda is currently a Finance Manager, Programs at Grand Challenges Canada where she provides financial support to the Programs area of the organization, enabling downstream partners to meet pre-and post-award financial requirements. Prior to joining Grand Challenges Canada, she worked in a corporate tax advisory and reporting role at a large Canadian public company and practiced tax and audit at a national accounting firm, servicing small and large companies in various industries. She obtained a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Wilfrid Laurier University and obtained her CPA, CA designation in 2014. Amanda is excited to give back to the community and be a part of Jessie’s.
Nancy is a former Jessie’s participant. She believes that the services and support she received at Jessie’s were critical in helping her continue with her education while raising two children. After graduating from York University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology, Nancy received a post-graduate certificate in Human Resources from Humber College. Nancy currently works as a Senior Compensation Consultant at Foresters Financial and has over 19 years of human resources experience, specializing in Total Rewards. Nancy also supported Jessie’s as Board Chair for 2021/2022.
Jessica Aviva Anderson
Jessica is passionate about social justice, feminism, and using storytelling to fight all forms of inequality and marginalization. She’s held progressively senior positions in communications and fundraising, and has broad non-profit experience working and volunteering across numerous sectors, including health care, international development, and post-secondary education. Jessica also has a master’s degree in communications from N.Y.U.
Cecelia works at the United Way of Anchorage as a Director of Education Impact and her portfolio includes early learning initiatives. She has cross-sector experience supporting organizational effectiveness in non-profit organizations, such as Big Brothers Big Sisters of Toronto and Teach For Canada, and in the private sector as a consultant with Ernst & Young. Cecelia has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Master’s degree in Human Development.
Lesley has spent her career advocating for housing justice and equity, starting as a frontline worker at one of Ottawa’s largest shelters, and later overseeing the operations of a variety of supportive housing programs in Ontario. Now the Executive Director of The Shoebox Project for Women, Lesley is committed to supporting a growing network of volunteers across Canada, the USA and the UK, and strives to foster compassionate, supportive and inclusive communities for women and gender-diverse people. She lives in Toronto with her two kids and a loveable senior
bulldog named Barksdale.
Gurjot is a CPA who currently works as a Senior Financial Analyst at McCain Foods Limited. She has a background in audit services and is now focused on financial planning and analysis. As a firm believer in equity and respect towards women and young parents, she is excited to join the board this upcoming month and looks forward to supporting Jessie’s vision in her term.
Isabelle is a family doctor and hospitalist in Toronto with special interests in harm reduction and overdose prevention, mental health, secure housing, care of the elderly, and women’s health. She is an advocate for the arts. She previously served on the Board of Directors for OPIRG
Alexa is the Manager of Clinical Knowledge Translation at the Association of Ontario Midwives. In this role, Alexa helps to advance the clinical practice of midwives and promotes accessible, high-quality, and client-centered pregnancy and postpartum care. Alexa holds a BA in Political Science and a Masters’ of Science with a specialization in public health policy.
Valarie is a lawyer who practices exclusively in the area of family law. She obtained her undergraduate degree from the University of Georgia and her law degree from Harvard Law School. She has a particular interest in ensuring equity in education and has volunteered with various organizations that support underserved youth in the United States and Canada.
Micaela is a former Jessie’s participant, Jessie’s graduate, former birth doula, and former Community Education Speaker. Currently she is a Social Service Work student at George Brown. She is a very pound mother of two. She has experience in volunteering as a mealtime host at St. Joseph’s Hospital. She hopes to shine light on the tough experiences she overcame and give back to Jessie’s.
Noelle is a business strategist, problem solver and storyteller. She is a Principal Consultant with Slalom, a purpose-driven consulting firm that helps companies solve business problems and build for the future. An Industrial Engineer by training, Noelle built her career in helping organizations move from ideation to execution, create high-functioning business, and drive operational efficiencies. She is passionate about intersectional feminism and is excited to contribute to the community through Jessie’s.
Diana is a paralegal who practices exclusively in the area of landlord and tenant law at the Landlord’s Self-Help Centre. She educates residential landlords about tenants’ rights and obligations under the Residential Tenancies Act and the Ontario Human Rights Code to ensure equality and equity in housing.
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205 Parliament St
Toronto, ON, M5A 2Z4