Guest Blogger: Karen Lee, photojournalist
It’s a common stereotype: Homeless people are too lazy to work and live off of handouts from the government. Yes, there are people like that, but it’s rarely the case. It’s not often we hear about the people who actually want to make an honest living, and perhaps even change their lives.
There is often a long line of people at Bissell Centre’s Employment Services’ Casual Labour office. It’s so popular that they have a Bingo Ball system in place so that everyone gets a fair chance for the day’s jobs. Jobs are in high demand. There are usually more people than jobs available. And they are more than willing to work for a lower-than-industry standard wage. They are willing to travel an hour or more by transit to get to these jobs. They are prepared to sweat and get their hands dirty.
After spending a period of time with some of the workers, I have gained a new form of respect for the clients that apply to work in Casual Labour. The work they do isn’t easy. These aren’t cushy office jobs. The available jobs are often physically laborious and repetitive. The work environment isn’t always pretty. One of the places I visited was a scrap metal yard. It was understandably dirty and muddy. It was a brisk winter day, yet the workers
did not complain once or ask to go inside to warm up. The work is tedious and tiresome, but they don’t seem to mind. It is evident that they are hardworking and dedicated. Mario, a worker in his 60s, was impressive. He could barely speak English and didn’t have the same energy or stamina as his co-worker in his 20s, but he did his best to earn his wage for the day. And he does it with a smile. I can tell he is grateful to have a job, even if it’s just temporary.
I also spent time at a lumber mill. Bissell Centre has partnered with this company for over 10 years and they have had quite a few success stories. There are many great things about this company. One being that Bissell’s clients have the opportunity to train and work as permanent staff. For the highly motivated and determined, this is life changing! With a permanent job, they can get better housing and not worry about their next meal. They can support themselves and their family. They can have a sense of dignity and self-respect.
There are lots of able-bodied, hardworking individuals in the Bissell community looking for work. Will you give them a chance? Bissell Centre is always looking for employers to partner with their Casual Labour program. Please contact Employment Services at 780.424.4385.
Thanks Karen for volunteering your time and talent to Bissell Centre. It is only through working together that we will be able to fulfill our vision of eliminating poverty in our community.
If you or anyone you know are interested in being a Guest Blogger on topics such as homelessness, poverty, unemployment, change, human services, food services, mental health, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, or any other relevant topic, please feel free to contact Kristen Clark, Marketing & Communications Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org.