Where The Heart Is – Allison and Don’s Story

by | POSTED: Oct 30, 2015

Allison and Don were chronically homeless until this past August, struggling to survive through Edmonton’s cold winters for over three years. Don was trapped in a cycle of alcoholism and homelessness. Allison’s move to Edmonton from the Northwest Territories resulted in instability, with no supports to help her transition into urban living. Together, they braved the difficulties of street life where there was limited help to manage addictions, find work, and build positive relationships with people who could steer them in a healthier direction.

Today, with the help of Bissell Centre’s Outreach Housing Team and follow-up support from their Homeless to Homes (H2H) program, Allison and Don are safely housed and on the path to healing.

The couple sought help after their third winter outside, when Allison says both she and Don started to get really sick, the frigid air making them constantly ill when they were forced to sleep outside.

“I’m overwhelmed. Sometimes I can’t believe that I have a home.”

“When you are caught up in your addictions and you’re homeless, it’s a hard trend to get out of. It’s very difficult.” Don says. “You have to look for support. You have to strive forward instead of backward. I’d been going backwards for so long that I forgot what forward was.”

At the time of our interview, the couple had been in their new home for only five days. Don admits that he’s still shocked by how quickly they got help: “I’m overwhelmed. Sometimes I can’t believe that I have a home.”

They are excited to be building a stronger, brighter future. Don is working towards coping with his addictions while Allison is preparing to go back to work. Their relationship, they say, is stronger than it’s ever been. But it’s difficult to think about their friends who are still on the street; Don notes that there are many more who are worse off than he and Allison were but that he is thankful he got a second chance.

“I’m thankful for Bissell for helping me out and people pointing us in the right direction. Here I am today, I’ve got a home and I’m thankful and grateful.”


Alison and Don’s story is from our Winter Newsletter, which is now available to download.

Also in this addition:

  • About our NEW Housing Outreach Team
  • An inspiring donor story
  • Christmas volunteer opportunities
  • Our new Holiday Giving Guide!
  • And a message from our CEO, Mark Holmgren