On Saturday, Feb. 21st, the “United for Bissell” Gala Dinner & Silent Auction was held at Southminster-Steinhauer United Church in Edmonton with all proceeds from the evening supporting our efforts to eliminate poverty in our community.
A special thanks to our long-time supporters, Tammy and Clare Irwin, and to the United Church congregations that were involved, the fundraiser was a giant success with every ticket and single auction item sold.
The evening featured a full dinner service, a silent auction, musical entertainment (harpist and a recorder quartet), and was hosted by Bissell Centre’s former Executive Director Larry Derkach, who served at the organization for almost 25 years. It was also attended by our current Bissell Centre CEO, Mark Holmgren, who identified the ways Bissell Centre was looking to increase the capacity of its mandate by putting more people to work and housing more homeless.
“I really do think it is encouraging that so many [congregations] were able to be involved – and of course it is due to Bissell’s good work in the community” – Tammy Irwin
The fundraiser was inspired by the now extinct Bissellebration fundraiser and the multiple fires and floods we have experienced recently to help us overcome the financial challenges we faced. Many of the attendees were long-time supporters of Bissellebration and the event speaks to our strong ties with the United Church community.
We would like to say thank you to the following people, and to the donors and volunteers, who played an important role in planning the fundraiser and making it a success:
Clare and Tammy Irwin (St. Paul’s United), Teresa Bellinger (St. Paul’s United), Christine Ens (Riverbend United), Lois Evans (Southminster-Steinhauer United), Colleen Falk (St. Paul’s United), Diane Hawrelak (Riverbend United), Betty Marlin (Garneau United), Monique Miller (St. Paul’s United), Heather Peden (St. Paul’s United), Jill Spaner (Riverbend United), Moira Warke (Garneau United).
We recently received a hand-written letter from a 30 year old mother of three who lived a rough life growing up at the hands of domestic abuse leading to addictions and life on the streets. Her letter attests to the struggles of her past and the progress she has made to turn her life around. We are proud of her achievements and so grateful to have been there for her and her family through the tough times.
Here are a few excerpts from her letter that we would like to share:
“I am attending MacEwan University taking my Bachelor of Arts Major in Sociology specializing in family, youth, and diversity and a minor in Psychology. I am in my first year and I am also a Volunteer Reintegration Team Leader for the women getting out of the prison and currently trying to get a job at CEASE to help women getting out of prostitution”.
“My children have been attending the Bissell daycare for 2 ½ years now and even through it is only one day a week, Fatima gives me 3+ days a week. For this I am so grateful because without the extra days I would not be able to attend MacEwan University, study, or achieve my career goal. I also would not be able to take my oldest son to his appointments or even be able to attend my own personal recovery meetings or counselling sessions. To put my kids in a regular daycare I would not be able to afford it. The parent portion even with subsidy would be close to $1,000 a month for all three of my kids.”
“I cannot stress enough how much the Bissell is helping me to succeed. I am so grateful that Fatima gives me the extra days a week. I would not be able to do all I’m doing without the free childcare and extra days. Also, my children love the Bissell. They are comfortable with the staff and have a lot of fun there and I’m at ease because I know they are well taken care of. Having support from the Bissell is helping me to step out of my past and into my future. They are also helping to give my kids a great future too. Thank you Fatima and daycare staff for believing in me and helping me and my family succeed, I would not be able to be where I am today without you”.
If you or someone you know is in need of family support, please visit our Child & Family Services page here.