Bissell Centre Celebrating Success

As the spring slowly rolls in, Bissell Centre is gearing up for its annual gala – Bissellebration (pronounced Biss – celebration)!   This year the committee has chosen to do something a bit different.     Normally, the revenue from Bissellebration has not been designated to any program.   As we prepare to re-launch Moonlight Bay Centre as a retreat centre, a corporate meeting space, and a Bissell Centre client camp we thought it would be prudent to support this renewed initiative.   The lake front property has not been used for two years and we are excited to re-open the doors to transforming lives!

>Part of celebrating success is being able to say thank you!   And we’d like to say thank you to Servus Credit Union for being a Blue Sponsor this year and also providing a live auction package that includes a Private Suite at Rexall Place to see the Bruno Mars concert on July 18, 2013.   This is the second year that Servus has been part of Bissellebration.   We asked why they choose to support this event:

“Servus Credit Union is proud to support Bissellebration 2013,” said Michael Dickinson, Director of Corporate Communications. “At Servus, we embrace the philosophy of people helping people and we are very pleased to assist Bissell Centre in achieving their vision of eliminating poverty in our community.”


After One Year of Our Strategic Touchstone

Monday night the Board of Governors of Bissell Centre approved our 2013-2014 Business Plan. It will soon be published to our website, but in the meantime I want to share with you some of the accomplishments Bissell Centre achieved in its first year of a five year strategic plan.

More Capacity to Help the Homeless
Bissell Centre received funding from Homeward Trust to double our work in our Homeless to Homes program (Housing First), which increases our capacity to house 160 chronically homeless, up from 80 in the previous year.

Won Crisis Diversion Contract
Late in the year we were successful in our bid to design and launch a 24/7/365 program we have named 24/7 Mobile Assistance Program. Our staff will  work closely with emergency services and first responders to increase support and access to community and government-based services that can address the underlying root causes of vulnerability (e.g. lack of housing, addictions, mental/physical illness, income support, etc.) and decrease the dependency on crisis/emergency services.    A key goal of the program is to assist Edmonton’s homeless population in finding safe, affordable, and stable housing with the supports they need to maintain it. It’s supported by Homeward Trust and Reach Edmonton.

Designed and Launched Jobs First
We were successful in obtaining a development grant from the Catherine Donnelly Foundation (Ontario) to design and prototype Jobs First, an intensive one-to-one employment program aimed at Housing First clients as well as homeless individuals not housed through Housing First. This pilot will continue into our new fiscal year.

Expanded Family Support Hours of Service
Significant one-time funding was obtained from the City of Edmonton to assist us in expanding the hours of our Family Support program to mirror the expanded hours of our Drop-in Centre, which were also fully rolled out in 2012-2013 thanks to support from the Robert E. Tegler Trust, the Stollery Charitable Foundation, and the Edmonton Community Foundation.

Thrift Shoppe is Profitable
The operations of our Thrift Shoppe were reviewed and adjusted, resulting in improved revenues and cost management, resulting in sufficient revenues to pay for its own operation and fund our Community Closet which provides free clothing to several thousand individuals and families each year.

Transformation of Moonlight Bay Centre
Work began to reinvent Moonlight Bay Centre from a traditional camp to a retreat centre focused on individual, organizational and community transformation.  This social enterprise will be launched soon and revenues will be used to help fund summer camps and experiences for low income families.

Inner City Victim Services Grows
This is a successful Bissell Centre–Boyle Street Community Services partnership, which added a staff person, thanks to  funding from Alberta’s Solicitor General. This program is unique to Canada and a important service to low income victims of crimes, mostly violent crimes.

Employment Services Exceeds Expectations
Our Employment Services’ Casual Labour program continued to exceed funder benchmarks, resulting in a commitment by the Alberta Government to provide additional funding in 2013-2104. The program also tested the feasibility of a social enterprise, Bissell Centre Community Movers, a niche moving service. The results will see a full scale business plan developed in 2013-2014.

Website/Blog and Social Media Success
Bissell Centre launched this website/blog and became active on Twitter and Facebook. Our website has had more than 150,000 page views by 50,000 visitors since it was launched in January 2012.  Twitter followers grew from zero to 2150, and Facebook “Likes” reached 570 in the same time-frame. As well we launched our online giving guide and most recently our Moonlight Bay Centre website.


The above are just a few of the highlights of the 2012-2013 year.  I should point out that Bissell Centre is ending the 2012-2013 year with a small surplus for the second year in a row. This is especially important after three previous years of deficits which required dipping into our savings to maintain services. Our success in the last two years is due to a combination of increased donations and revenues, some restructuring, and stellar cost management.

Tamarack’s Communities Collaborating Institute is Coming to Edmonton

As a community organization that is working collaboratively, we want you to know about an exciting learning opportunity that we at Bissell Centre are helping to bring to Edmonton this Fall.   We are working with the Tamarack Institute to sponsor the 2013 Communities Collaborating Institute: Accelerating Impact, which is being held October 7th – 11th, 2013.

Tamarack’s Communities Collaborating Institute is Canada’s signature, learning event for collective impact professionals.   The 2013 CCI: Accelerating Impact is geared specifically for those wanting to strengthen their capacity to create large-scale, collective impact in communities – linked to provincial/state or national agendas. I have attended two CCIs myself and highly recommend you consider attending.

Join Adam Kahane, Tom Kelly, Stephen Huddart, Ratna Omidvar, Catherine Twinn, Liz Weaver, Mark Cabaj, and me for this unprecedented leadership event.   Inspired by the insights and perspectives of celebrated thought-leaders, it is an opportunity to rejuvenate and strengthen your ability to engage and mobilize across sectors to advance a common community agenda for transformation.   Learn more about the event’s evolving list of Thought-Leaders online here.

Registration officially opens today, Tuesday March 19th 2013.   This event has been over-subscribed each of the past six years and we expect the same this year in Edmonton, Alberta.

  • Date: October 7 – 11, 2013
  • Location: Edmonton, Alberta
  • Venue: Radisson Edmonton South Hotel
  • More information & registration:

Change leaders need both ideas and techniques.   The 2013 CCI: Accelerating Impact promises to be a dynamic peer learning opportunity with a special focus on transformative techniques for uniting diverse opinions into a common agenda for social change. These include: Scenario Planning, Change Labs, Working Effectively with Complexity, Developmental Evaluation, Collaborative Governance Community Conversations and more.

Learn how you and your organization can benefit from this amazing learning opportunity.   Special reduced rates are available for two or more participants from a community, organization or network who agree to attend together.

I hope to see you at the 2013 CCI this Fall in Edmonton.

Mark Holmgren, CEO
Bissell Centre

Food Donations Needed!

Bissell Centre relies on the generous donations from the public to support the programs and services that help house, clothe, and feed the inner-city community. Right now, we are asking you to please donate items to our Food Services Program, which provides  approximately  350 meals per day for the members of our Drop-In Centre, Childcare Program, and Employment Services. One of the basic human needs is food, so please help nourish our community members’ bodies and minds!
Breakfast at Bissell Centre Childcare

We are asking you to please donate what you can from the list of food items below:

  • Coffee & Black Tea
  • Powdered Creamer
  • Sugar
  • Fresh, Frozen or Canned Fruit
  • Fresh, Frozen or Canned Vegetables
  • Canned Meat: Ham, Turkey, Chicken, Fish, Luncheon Meat
  • Frozen Meat: Hamburger, Roast, Chicken, Wieners/Smokies/Sausages
  • Milk & Yogurt
  • Soups of all kinds
  • Canned Chilli & Stews & Pasta Sauce
  • Dried Goods: Pasta, Rice, Cereal, Crackers, Sauces, Gravies, etc.
  • Juice: Powdered, Individual Boxes or Jugs ( NO Kool Aid please)
  • Snacks: Cookies, Granola bars, Chocolate bars

Thank you very much for making a difference in the community and assuring those in need can find their next meal at Bissell Centre.

All donations for the Food Services Program can be dropped off  from Monday-Friday, 8:00am–5:00pm  at:

Bissell Centre EAST Building

10527-96th street

Edmonton, AB T5H 2H6

Contact:  Darren Brennan  780-423-2285 ext. 365,  [email protected]

Teens Against Poverty – Ecole Joseph Moreau

One of the things that is wonderful about working at Bissell Centre is the opportunity to see how people, schools, corporations, and other communities yearn to make a difference.   It is always a joy to provide a tour to our donors or simply to those who want to learn a bit more about the challenges of our inner city clients and maybe break down some assumptions or stigma around poverty and homelessness.

For a third consecutive year, École Joseph Moreau’s “Comité ESPOIR” (Hope Committee) has undertaken some fund raising initiatives to support their less fortunate community.   This small group of Junior High students has raised over $750 and increased awareness of our organization to the leaders of tomorrow.

Success Coach at École Joseph Moreau, Marc Piquette, believes “these kinds of experiences have a real impact on kids and help them understand some of the realities of our society but also the hope and the triumph of the spirit of community.”

Thank you again for your support and we look forward to hosting you for a tour again next year!

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