High School Students Raise $352,000 To Fight Poverty Locally & Globally

Students from Strathcona High School’s Leadership Program came together and shattered their goal of $200,000 to fight poverty in Edmonton and in Ecuador by raising $352,000 in just five weeks!

Through their Treehouse Project, the students raised enough funding that will provide housing for the homeless in Edmonton through Bissell Centre’s Housing Options Program (HOP) and the construction of an ecotourism lodge that will not only protect the rainforst in Ecuador but will alleviate poverty for the Siona people through Change for Children.

The students rallied the local community securing partnerships with the City of Edmonton Task Force to End Poverty and with local businesses. The fundraiser was launched on February 11th and was capped off with a 24 hour bike-a-thon starting on March 19th where 114 fundraising teams of students, plus volunteers, teachers, and alumni, rode stationary bikes in the Strathcona High School gymnasium with Mayor Don Iveson also participating at the main event. In total, 1,135 riders culminated in the high school gym with the closing ceremonies and a cheque presentation taking place the next day on March 20th.

We are very grateful to be a part of such an amazing fundraiser from young leaders who have worked hard to provide new opportunities for the homeless to be housed in Edmonton and for economic development that will protect the homes of impoverished people in Ecuador for generations to come.

For more information about this amazing fundraiser, please visit www.fundraise.sconainitiative.ca.

Check out the uplifting recap video above. Inspiring! 

A New Life for a Mother and her Daughter

Candace Thomas decided she would do anything to keep her baby.

She did everything she had to do to get off the streets, to conquer her addictions, and have a healthy baby, but she couldn’t do it alone. Bissell Centre’s Childcare Program was there to give her the support she needed to be successful.

“I trust this daycare over any daycare,” says Candace, 31. “They really have a good, high standard. The quality of care that my daughter receives is excellent.”

A year ago, Candace worked hard with a few agencies. She attended 12 step meetings, found a sponsor, attended more meetings and did everything she could in order to keep her daughter. Now she lives in a house of her own. She has successfully completed treatment for her addictions issues and continues to work on building a new life with her daughter.

She brought her now four-month-old daughter Oskiah with her to our interview. Oskiah is a healthy, happy baby who spent the entirety of our interview laughing and cuddling with her mother. Candace also looks happy and healthy, and takes every opportunity to bond with her baby. Between questions she holds Oskiah up to look into her eyes and tickle her chin.

“There’s going to be some times where you need help and you don’t know where to go. It’s good to know that there’s someone out there to support you.”

Crucial to her success in this new life, Candace says, is Bissell Centre’s Childcare Program. Team Lead Fatima Bellahmer and the other child care workers put in special care and attention that she says has been an invaluable aid.

“Fatima even calls me and asks if Oskiah coming and if I’m bringing her this week,” says Candace. “If I didn’t have the daycare I really don’t know what I’d do, to be honest. I would just be at home. Probably just trying to deal with it and struggle and struggle and struggle. Without the daycare I don’t think I’d be able to cope.”

Candace appreciates having staff and other parents she can go to with questions, be notified of other opportunities in the community, and otherwise find friendly support.

This story is from our March 2015 newsletter, which can be viewed in full here, with other great articles for you to enjoy!

Learn more about our Childcare Program. Visit Page >

Help others like Candace and Oskiah. Donate Now >

Landlord Embraces Homeless Family – Encourages Others to Help

We recently received a testimonial letter from a couple who are offering a safe place to live for a single mother and her children through our Homeless to Homes Program. We are very grateful for their commitment to helping, and we’re encouraged by their positive experience. The letter is a testament of the importance of working together to address housing needs and alleviating poverty in our city.

Here’s what they had to say:

“To whom it may concern,

We own a single-family house in Pleasantview and have been landlords in the Homeless to Homes program for over a year. It has been a rewarding experience for us, and we would like to encourage other landlords to participate.

In this program, a family that needs adequate and safe accommodation is provided with a place to live, while the landlord benefits by being assured that the rent will be paid on time each month. Landlords also derive a sense of well-being from knowing that they are doing a small part to reduce homelessness in the community. It truly is a win-win situation!

The family that lives in our house consists of a single mother with several children, and they have been a joy to work with. The children are well-behaved, and the house has been well cared for. They are happy to have a spacious and comfortable home with a yard, and we are happy to see them thriving.

During their time in the program, the family receives intensive support from a social worker, which means that any problems can be spotted quickly before they have a chance to grow. In our case, there have been no problems, but just knowing that our tenant has a support worker in place gives us confidence.

We want to assure landlords who may be hesitant or uncertain about participation in Homeless to Homes that the program is carefully managed and that the clients who are chosen are those most likely to succeed.

As every landlord knows, there is always an element of risk when you choose to rent a property to someone else. But in the case of the Homeless to Homes program, the risk is minimal, the rewards immeasurable”.

Please visit our website here for more information about our Homeless to Homes Program and the importance of housing to eliminate poverty.