Helping women in need

by Kayano Waite

Osmyn Reid, left, and her extended family readying the hygeine kits for women in the GTA.


An assembly line of busy bodies worked together to pack toiletries for homeless women. This is not the usual way to celebrate one’s 40th birthday.

In late January, Osmyn Reid and her husband Peter had an idea for her birthday party. They invited family and residents in Ajax to the Audley Recreation Centre not just to celebrate, but to help them.

Reid, 40, had her party guests package together made more than 200 hygiene kits for homeless women. These kits included toothbrushes, tampons and deodorant.

According to the Canadian Women’s Foundation, 1.5 million women live below the low income line.

Reid has a degree in social work from Ryerson University, and has worked as a child advocate in homeless shelters in Toronto.

She said the idea came to her after personal interactions with women who at those shelters.

“Whether they were battered, recently evicted, recent immigrants, refugees, whenever they came they often didn’t have the basic hygiene necessities that were needed to carry them over for a few days,” she said.

Children at the party worked on individual cards for the women in the shelters. Each card started with the phrase “I just wanted you to know that…” The children would then attach their own message to the women, which was given along with each kit.

“All of us can give in some way,” she said. “It might not be a grand monetary way, but we all have the ability to give, once our heart is in that place to give to others.”

Throughout her birthday week, Reid was in contact with several shelters such as Wings Maternity Home for Pregnant Women, Herizon House, and the Refuge.

When many women enter these shelters, they don’t have the basic toiletries with them to carry over for their first few days there.

Reid said it’s not just monetary gifts that can be given to those in need, it can also be empathy.

“It’s the fact that its all of our responsibility to make sure we have a healthy community and that people in that community are being taken care of,” she said.

The Reid family also distributed extra packages to homeless people in Toronto.

Reid said she often hears people say they don’t realize there is such a high need. She says people should look in areas in which they are passionate to help others.

“Ask questions. Make phone calls, inquire on websites and I guarantee you people are going to thrilled to death that you’re going to be involved.”

Previous articleA new initiative for the Alumni Association
Next articleDurham College gets a new dean
Kayano is a second-year Broadcast Journalism student at DC. His focus lies in the arts, focusing primarily in film and television. He also hosts a show "Black Camera" on Riot Radio. Kayano hopes to be a television writer.