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Out of Heartbreak, Some Hope


Celebrity and philanthropist Jenny Jones loved her sister. And her sister, Liz Rankin, loved My Sisters’ Place.

So it was appropriate that when her sister died, Jones decided to donate $50,000 to the London women’s shelter. And it was appropriate the donation be announced among dozens of women there Wednesday.

This plaque will hang at My Sister’s Place in appreciation of a $50,000 donation from Jenny Jones in memory of her sister, Liz Rankin. (DEREK RUTTAN, The London Free Press)

“It was very close to her, what they do here,” said Andrea VanderWeide, who’s Rankin’s daughter and Jones’s niece. “My mom had mentioned to my aunt many times that this was a charity that meant something to her. My aunt is pretty shook up. She wanted to honour my mom’s memory.”

The Jones family grew up in London, with the matriarch the original Sophie of Sophie’s Gown Shoppe, where growing up, Jenny and her sister, Liz, would pose in the windows as models and help with the sewing. Jenny Jones became a household name, hosting her own talk show from 1990 to 2003, and a generous, behind-the- scenes contributor to many causes.

Liz Rankin became a loyal employee at Drewlo Holdings in London, retiring only a few years ago. She died suddenly May 7, 2017, at 73. “My mom was a strong, independent woman,” VanderWeide said. “If there is anything that stands out about my mom, in the memory of anyone who ever met her, it would be her desire to help. She knows somewhere that she is still helping.”

Not long after Rankin’s death, My Sisters’ Place received a phone call from someone who said she was Jenny Jones, director Susan Macphail recalled. “I said, is that the Jenny Jones? She called because she had just suffered a heartbreak. Her beloved sister had passed away.” Jones spoke about her love of her sister and her support of women helping women, Macphail said. Jones wasn’t able to attend Wednesday’s announcement.

The shelter decided to put the money toward several women’s empowerment programs, including a theatre group, financial literacy sessions, peer support and self-compassion groups, which don’t have regular funding.

“It’s always bittersweet when we receive a gift that is in memory of someone,” said Beth Mitchell, chief executive of Canadian Mental Health Association Middlesex, which operates My Sisters’ Place. “We know it represents a loss for the family and the community. On the other hand, we hope that this legacy brings some comfort. Certainly, for us it brings us much joy and we know it will be used well.”

Two women who use My Sisters’ Place spoke Wednesday about the impact of the organization on their lives. “Before I found My Sisters’ Place, I was homeless, addicted and suffering from severe mental health issues,” Beth said. “With the help of My Sisters’ Place, I am housed, happily married, no longer addicted and my mental health is in check.”

Just coming each day and seeing women who want to help changes lives, Patricia said. “It gives us a sense of hope, coming in and seeing friends and people just gathered around.”

7 Responses

  1. Sue says:

    What a wonderful gift for such corageuos women. I’m sure this will give them much help. And as the anniversary of Liz is around the corner, again I would like to express my deepest condolences to Lisa, Andrea and yourself Jenny. Time heals and goodbye is NOT forever. All my best to all of you. Xxxxxxxx

  2. Gail says:

    Hi Jenny , last night I visited my sister , Linda.She has suffered from mental illness for over forty-two years…she is now in a nursing home.. each time I see my sister my heart fragments more ! The only thing that keeps me going is my faith in the Creator of the universe.(Psalms 83:18 ) After reading your story about your sister …made me feel that we are alike in the love and compassion we share for our families .My solace comes from up building discussion from :JW.ORG…if indeed you are will find hope and comfort from this site also ! Thinking of you , Gail

  3. Gail says:

    Jenny , having lost four of my siblings , I know that grief takes its toll and time to accept that your loved one is sleeping …those were Jesus words to Lazarus sisters…so the Creator of the universe (Psalms 83:18 ) has promised life eternal to those who exercise faith in Jesus Christ (John316 )..why ? Because Jesus willingly gave up his earthly life for dying humankind . (Romans 5:12 )..I educated myself by learning how this be accomplished.
    Please take note of JW.ORG… without prejudice note what God’s word has to say about our loved ones who have passed .(Eccl.9:5 )
    Your pain is in my heart …Agape.

  4. Michelle Hamilton says:

    Just would like to say I really loved your talk show. You had a variety of things on each day, unlike today’s talk shows where everyone is sleeping with everybody, and who’s baby is it. It’s all disgusting and needless to say I don’t watch them any more. You are a very beautiful woman and we all miss you.

  5. Rhonda Eskew says:

    Aww, you are such a thoughtful person for everything you do for others. It doesn’t surprise me you would do this. Very heartwarming to know you did this in memory of your sister. Thank you for sharing this special time in remembering Liz with us. Knowing you did this tugs at my heart because I know this has got to mean so much to you and your family members…
    Take care, Jenny…hugs…

  6. Helene says:

    Jenny, Please accept my deepest condolences for the loss of your sister. Know that my prayers and best wishes are with you. Helene.

  7. Jean says:

    I am very sorry to hear of your sisters passing Jenny.That was a beautiful thing you did please take care. Jean

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