With the onset of a new year, it’s common to reflect on the year that’s just past. For many, 2016 was a year of mixed emotions. I’ve noticed that across social media, many people seem to feel that 2016 was a difficult year. With tragic events, divisive politics, and other struggles going on across the world, it can be easy to focus on the negative aspects of 2016. However, we need to work to see the good in it as well and use the lessons we’ve learned to affect positive change in 2017. At the Global Sisterhood, we’ve had a very productive year and we’d like to take a moment to reflect on all of the work that we’ve been able to do.

A cause that has been very near and dear to us in 2016 is homelessness. We were able to partner with another amazing non-profit, Mission from Mars, to collect feminine care products for women living on the streets of Pittsburgh. In winter, we donated blankets and socks to His Hands Ministries to distribute to those living on the streets in frigid temperatures. We also collaborated with Final Salute, and our combined resources were able to help keep 10+ homeless women veterans and their families off of the street with shelter and food for a month. We joined forces with Mission from Mars again in December to throw a baby shower for a young woman who was homeless until her 31st week of pregnancy. We are so grateful that we were able to help those in need and partner with other amazing organizations while doing so!

As a women’s non-profit organization, women’s issues are at the heart of our mission. We collaborated with Treasure House Fashions in the form of monetary and clothing donations. Treasure House helps women in transitional housing to obtain the clothing that they need to start careers. In addition to these donations, we partnered with them to provide a deserving high school student with a dream prom makeover, complete with a gown, hair and makeup, and a stretch limo. We presented Milagros Day Worldwide with a $1,000 check to send 20 domestic violence survivors on a healing retreat. Dr. Hipsky was extremely grateful to be able to lead the Milagros Day Mother’s Day Parade across the Brooklyn Bridge along with her daughter and her friends, who are members of the “Next Generation Global Sisterhood.”

Continuing the legacy of the Global Sisterhood was a priority in 2016, this sparked the creation of the Next Generation Global Sisterhood, which teaches younger girls the importance of giving. As many women in the Sisterhood are mothers, they have worked diligently to involve their children charitable endeavors this year. On “Take Your Children to Work Day,” Dr. Hipsky and Jen Forsyth helped their children to complete an entire day of giving. They helped 7 different non-profit organizations that day, including collecting diapers for Angel’s Place, an organization that helps single mothers to complete their education. The Global Sisterhood has also been involved in mentoring through Princess Entrepreneurs, and Dr. Hipsky provided copies of her book, Mentoring Magic, to young women through the Fierce Women Project.

Given Dr. Hipsky’s extensive background in education, it’s no surprise that this cause was very important to us in 2016. Over the summer, we collected over 350 pounds of children’s books for a school library in Ghana. While getting the books to the library has proved to be difficult (and expensive), thanks to the hard work of many within our organization (especially Kelly Frost and Nettie Jorinda Bullitt) they are nearly there. We have navigated the complex shipping system, paid numerous tariffs and negotiated our way around many roadblocks because childhood literacy is so important. In November, we donated hundreds of school supplies to The Education Partnership with the help of Nicole Narvaez Manns. The Education Partnership helps over 30,000 students obtain necessary school supplies. We hope that many children will reap the benefits of a solid education thanks to our efforts.

One of the final contributions that the Global Sisterhood was able to make in 2016 was to support education and make some Christmas magic happen, all at the same time. One of our Sisters, who is commonly referred to by her friends and family as Sister Zeph, runs a free, girl’s school in a rural area of Pakistan. When we found out that the school’s annual Christmas show was in danger of being canceled due to a lack of resources, we just had to help. We provided the necessary funding to fill the deficit and the show went on! Zeph explained to us that in their dangerous area of Pakistan, where children are subjected to violence, child marriage, and honor killings, that this show brought great joy to her students and her community. It was the perfect way to end our year of giving.

We are incredibly grateful to all of our supporters and the members of the Global Sisterhood who make the work we do possible. We wish each and every one of you all of the best in the new year!