Receiving Partner Spotlight – Strengthen Our Sisters

Let’s talk about love. Let’s talk about violence. Let’s talk about how the two do not go together and how violence creates a pattern of destructive actions that women and their children must take in order to survive. We’ve all heard the facts about domestic violence; here are some you may not have read before:

  • Women with disabilities are 40% more likely to experience partner violence (especially severe violence) than women without disabilities
  • 10 million children are exposed to domestic violence each year
  • Boys who witness domestic violence are 3 to 4 more times likely to perpetrate intimate partner violence
  • Domestic Violence is the 3rd leading cause of homelessness among families

It’s easy to see how Strengthen Our Sisters founder, Sandra Ramos, moved herself out of semi-retirement when she arrived in Ringwood, NJ in 1987. As an advocate in the 70s (she opened the first Women’s Shelter in North America), she was called upon and responded to the need for safe housing in the rural area of Upper Passaic County. With a group of dedicated women, Sandra set about starting a shelter for abused and homeless women.

Sandra and a Board of Directors officially founded Strengthen Our Sisters of Upper Passaic County in 1990. Since then, they have been dedicated to their mission to break the cycle of domestic violence, poverty and abuse by restoring balance and harmony through individual empowerment.

Today Strengthen Our Sisters not only provides services for women of domestic abuse and their children, but the surrounding community as well. Deeply steeped in the idea that empowerment comes from education and preparedness, Strengthen Our Sisters provides a great number of programs for the women that include; computer skills, GED, job training, and pre and post-natal education for new mothers. The Cars for Success program refurbishes donated cars for use by the women to transition to work from welfare. The Day Care, Pre-School and Food Pantry are available to the entire community.

A wider range of services including a 24-hour hotline, emergency shelter, counseling, legal and social advocacy, support groups, parenting sessions, communication skills development, stress management and self-esteem building, and more, are components of the program. This team is dedicated to helping women and their children find their way out of situations of crisis, doubt and danger.

The greatest achievement for the women of Strengthen Our Sister is the “Pass It On” theme of the shelter where the women, past and present, remain part of the circle of support created to help effect positive change, assertiveness, independence and self-sufficiency on the lives of these families.

Table to Table in NJ provides a reliable source of fresh, nutritious food for the food pantry nourishing the resident women and their children along with hundreds of low-income families, senior citizens and people with disabilities. The dairy, meats, fruits and vegetables that are delivered are essential for growth, development and staying healthy.

Table to Table has worked with Strengthen Our Sisters for more than five years. We could not be more in awe of the wonderful work done here. For more information on Strengthen Our Sisters, visit their main site For more information on Table to Table and our food donation program in NJ, visit our main site!


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