Peggy Ann Walpole
Street Haven at the Crossroads
In the 1950s Peggy Ann Walpole was a nurse in the emergency room at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto witnessing the debilitating effects of street life on women — drug overdoses, alcohol withdrawal, mental illness, and beatings from prostitution. It wasn’t long before Peggy Ann wondered where these women went after they left the hospital. There were hostels for destitute men. But what about these desperate women?
Street Haven at the Crossroads was born in 1965 when Peggy Ann was able to rent the beverage room of an old skid–row hotel as a drop–in center to provide shelter and support for women. Since that time, Street Haven at the Crossroads has helped tens of thousands of women, and become a multi–faceted agency offering an integrated continuum of services—from immediate support for women off the streets, to long–term programs addressing issues such as mental health, addictions, violence, poverty and homelessness. Street Haven has an open–door philosophy, and all of the programs are based on a non–judgmental, total acceptance of the person.
Peggy Ann began Street Haven as a drop–in centre for women, and forty years later, The Haven and The Drop–In remain at the heart of the agency. The Haven includes a 24–hour emergency, short–term Shelter and Drop–In Centre providing 30 women with a warm bed, and an additional 40–60 women with food, clothing, support, and counseling each day. The Drop–In also provides art therapy, crafts, spiritual groups and recreation activities, while the Learning Center is there to help women develop basic skills in reading, writing, math, computers and job search techniques.
Each day Street Haven prepares 200 meals. For the many women literally living on the street, a nutritious meal can mean the difference between life and death.
Peggy Ann believed that the main key to Street Haven’s success is its client–centered approach and that it is run by women for women — something that hasn’t changed in 40 years.
Peggy Ann passed away peacefully at St. Michael’s Hospital on Monday, February 6, 2006.
Where Are They Now?
In 2005, Harlequin Enterprises awarded Peggy Ann Walpole with the Harlequin More Than Words Award in a moving ceremony attended by many notable officials as well as staff and residents of Street Haven at the Crossroads. Peggy Ann passed away early 2006, but her legacy lives on.
Following the award, many more people and agencies learned about the programs and services offered by Street Haven at the Crossroads, as well as the issues that homeless women face every day.
Women by far are the largest supporters of our services — Emergency Shelter, Supportive Housing, Addiction Services and the Learning Centre. The Woman of the Year Award helped to create awareness and support of needs of homeless and marginalized women in Toronto. We are most appreciative.