Last Thanksgiving, Tamara and Arliss were homeless…

by | POSTED: Oct 08, 2015

A lot has changed for Arliss and me since last year.

Our Thanksgiving dinner was at an event for homeless people.  The rest of the days we were struggling to survive on the streets.

This year, we’ll cook it together in the little kitchen in our very own apartment.

My partner Arliss and I got help through one of Bissell Centre’s housing programs. Your donations make these programs possible.  Thank you!

Right now is a time when a lot of us are stopping to count our blessings and as I get closer to Thanksgiving and think about the life Arliss and I left behind, I can’t help but think about the people we love who are still stuck in our old way of life.

Arliss and I are living proof that your support of Bissell Centre is making a life-changing difference in our lives and the lives of others as well.

Please donate today to help people like Tamara and Arliss.

It wasn’t easy.  I’ll be honest with you.  We tried this before.  We got some help to find an apartment the winter before last.  It didn’t work out very well and we ended up back on the street for five months.

But we didn’t give up and neither did the people at Bissell Centre.

That whole time in between, Arliss and I just kept doing everything we could to get another shot and then make it work.  Without Bissell’s help we probably would have given up.  It was so hard and you start to believe that you don’t deserve a chance at a life off the streets.

The support Bissell offered helped a lot and the first time I went I just cried.

I was feeling overwhelmed…stressed right out.  Going in there calms you down. I was able to just get it all out.  Then we could start to talk about the brighter side of life.  After that first time, I knew I wanted to live and get off my addictions and because I could talk to staff, I was able to calm down my addiction and get the support I needed.  I even started going to Sunday services at Bissell Centre and got back in touch with my spiritual side.  That helped me keep going, too.

Then it happened!  This past spring we moved into our new apartment.  

Our new apartment might not seem like much to a lot of people but it’s in a good building with good neighbours.  The landlord is good.  The walls are thick enough you can’t hear people talking next door.

It’s been really good so far and I know we can make it this time.  We’ve got a stable income.  We’ve got a dedicated person that helps us if we run into any problems and otherwise always checks in with us every week or two.  That’s all part of Bissell Centre’s housing programs.

My favourite thing is the neighbourhood pool that’s a short walk down the street.  I took my two-year-old granddaughter there one really hot August day.  It was probably one of the best days of my life.

These past months with her have been awesome. Every chance I get, I spend it with her.  We can do all sorts of things together now.  Things I couldn’t have dreamed of before.

This is a huge change from living on the street.

I will never forget how far we’ve come and I will never forget that it’s people like you who helped make it happen.  It’s kind of amazing that someone I don’t even know would be so kind to me and my family.

“That’s why I knew I had to tell you our story and being able to say “Thank You!” just before Thanksgiving.”

– Tamara

For the first time in I don’t know how long, I’m actually going to celebrate!  Before, I was trapped in my addictions.  Like Arliss said the other day, “our day started off drinking…we were always picking cans out there or doing something just to make enough for beer.”

Now, my biggest worry is how I can fit everyone at my little table for Thanksgiving dinner.  That’s because my kids are coming!  Arliss has reconnected with some of his family, too.

And of course, the special seat at the table, the one right next to me, is reserved for my granddaughter!

It’s hard to think about it sometimes, but I can’t forget that there are a lot more homeless people out there that need a chance like the one we got.


Tamara  –  former housing participant at Bissell Centre

Please donate this Thanksgiving and help more people like Tamara and Arliss.

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