The other day I was talking with two of my staff about the increasing efforts we are seeing across the city to “move the homeless along.” Some who advocate for dispersing the homeless tell us it is better to scatter the homeless across the city than to allow them to congregate around places like Bissell Centre or to camp out in groups in the river valley or other “hidden” places. I am not really sure how it’s “better” but it appears the sentiment is shared by more than a few.
I do realize that the aesthetics of homelessness are unpleasant and can make those who have a home to go to each night uncomfortable, if not distressed by what often accompanies homelessness: drug use, public drinking, needles on the ground, and human waste in the back lanes. I get it. I don’t like it either. It is unsettling.
But moving the homeless along does nothing but make the reality of being homeless less visible, and perhaps for some the illusion that things are getting better. I don’t think it improves public safety or the safety of the homeless, and I am sure scattering the homeless does not solve the community’s problem of homelessness.
Being homeless is degrading and painful. Not having a place to call home hurts. It is humiliating to have nowhere to go to the bathroom. Drugs and alcohol are both among the many the activities that lead to homelessness and the means by which people escape the despair of having no home.
Solutions are not easy. Despite the hundreds of chronically homeless people we successfully house each year, we see more and more homeless people walking through our doors. Lately, we are seeing more families. The other night a family slept outside by Bissell Centre. One of them was a two-year old. Where should we move them along to? Read More…
At Bissell Centre, we want to ensure that we’re doing all that we can to enhance the quality of life for all who live, work and frequent the McCauley Area, where we’ve been based since 1910.
Part of our commitment is playing a role in helping to revitalize our community, making it a cleaner and more accommodating place for everyone.
We pay attention to what happens in our community and our city in order to be the best neighbours that we can. The McCauley Revitalization Strategy, which took shape a couple of years ago, has allowed us to continually focus on our role in improving our community. Cleanliness was a key concern identified by all parties who helped in the formation of the strategy.
For us, this provided an amazing opportunityâ€¦
With grant funding becoming available through the City of Edmonton, we’re proud to say that we were successful in recruiting a Clean Streets Coordinator! The Clean Streets Coordinator will be able to hire teams of people who are registered in our Casual Labour Program. It will assist us to work with businesses, individuals and other agencies in the community to make our streets and public spaces cleaner and safer.
Helping to revitalize the community, support those looking for work, enhancing our role in developing our community and working to eliminating poverty by empowering peopleâ€¦its part of what we do!
Bissell Centre is urging the public to helpâ€¦ ensuring those in need can continue to receive job opportunities that require safety equipment. As construction season ramps up in our city, Bissell Centre is in great need of 200 pairs of new and gently used men’s steel-toe boots, size 9 – 12 to ensure low income individuals looking for work are able to get jobs and work safely.
Guided by the vision of eliminating poverty in our community, Bissell Centre works with others to empower people to move from poverty to prosperity. “Employment Services plays a key role in connecting Edmonton’s impoverished population with meaningful work placements,” says Mark Holmgren, CEO Bissell Centre. “Many placements require basic safety equipment, which Bissell Centre normally provides, but currently there are no steel-toe boots available for program participants.”
We are asking the community-minded citizens of Edmonton to donate CSA approved steel-toe boots to us at 10527 96 Street, or our Thrift Shoppe Sorting Centre at 8818 118 Ave.
OR you can donate to buy a pair and get a tax receipt using our donations page.
Bissell Centre’s no-fee job placement service, its Casual Labour program, helps the community by connecting employers and workers, enabling placements to occur seven days a week. In 2012 the program saw remarkable success in filling over 14,000 placements, putting $1M into the hands of the less fortunate community. Since many of the placements are helping with concrete labour, roofing installation, and construction labour, steel-toe boots are often a necessity to being able to assist our impoverished population in finding employment and helping them move out of poverty.
In addition to temporary placements Bissell Centre provides worker training; this includes work preparedness programs, pre-employment training, safety training, employment counseling, resume building and life skills training.
For more information about Bissell Centre Employment Services please contact Mark Bubel, Employment Services Manager at 780-423-2285 ext 139.
For those of us with a home and a family this Christmas, we might very well be surrounded by more than we can use. How many times have you received a travel mug that gets buried at the back of a shelf, or a blanket that lives in the closet or a piece of clothing that never gets worn? For some of Edmonton’s vulnerable, these same items could be the best Christmas present they ever receive.
If you’re lucky enough to be a person with unusable gifts, it might be time to consider donating them or something of equal value to an organization that will transform your throwaway into a treasure. One such organization is Bissell Centre in downtown Edmonton. In operation for more than 100 years, it offers a wide range of programs to those in need including counseling, employment and pre-employment guidance, a drop-in centre, child care, victim and FASD support and recreation programs.
For Christmas every year, Bissell Centre puts on special programs to give those who need it most some seasonal cheer. In the first weeks of December United Churches across Edmonton gather gifts. Between December 3 and December 18 volunteers and Bissell staff sort the collected gifts into categories for children, men and women. On December 19th they open their doors for a Festive Giveaway. Last year they helped over 100 families with Christmas gifts for their homes, so that the tree (if there was a tree) would have something underneath it for Christmas morning, and they hope to do the same this year.
Another program Bissell offers is Hoodies for the Homeless. Most of the clothing provided for Bissell’s clients is old – handed down or passed along from someone else. The Hoodies for the Homeless initiative aims to provide 800 brand new hoodies to the people Bissell Centre serves – an appropriate seasonal gift for those who spend a lot of time outdoors in Edmonton’s cold winters.
Bissell Centre is a non-denominational centre whose vision is to eliminate poverty in their community. Started in 1910 as an all-peoples’ mission, it has evolved through the years as community needs have changed and they offer help to anyone who needs it, with no questions asked. “If they’re here and they say they need our help we help them,” says Kristen Clark, Bissell Centre’s Manager of Marketing & Communications.
That kind of non-judgmental philosophy is what Christmas should be all about.
If you want to help Bissell Centre share the spirit of the season, you can donate a gift or cash or volunteer your time. For more information you can call 780 423 2285 and ask for Darren, or check out their Giving Guide website at http://bissellcentregivingguide.org
Written By: Eric Rice, a volunteer writer for Alberta Street News – http://albertastreetnews.org/
Written By Rylan Kafara, Bissell Centre’s Inner City Recreation Coordinator
Anyone who has been in Bissell Centre has probably seen Ceno’s art. There are pieces displayed in almost every office, some are hanging in the hallways, and others are painted on the walls. If you’ve visited some of the businesses in the area, you may also have noticed the works Ceno has used for barter when he’s hungry.
Recently, one of Ceno’s pieces was submitted to the 4th annual Edmonton Timeraiser. The Timeraiser is a charity gala where local artists’ paintings are selected by a jury of their peers for auction. If chosen, the artist is paid the market value for their work. At the event, the pieces are given to the highest bidder.
Instead of paying money, however, the winner offers volunteer hours. These hours are worked over the course of the year at community agencies of their choice, and then they are given the artwork.
The Timeraiser is about creating connections, and building community. All across Canada, prospective volunteers are paired with the agencies they are best suited to work with, from Vancouver to St. John’s. Each year the event grows, as more cities host events, more artists are showcased, and more volunteer hours are raised.
This year, Ceno’s “Spirit of Chief” was showcased at the Timeraiser held on October 13th. So not only was his talent recognized by other Edmonton artists, but he was paid a fair price, and his art gave back to the community through a new volunteer.
Ceno’s art being featured at the Timeraiser helps remove barriers between the inner city and the wider community. Although he has never had a formal art education, Ceno has been able to nurture his talents at Bissell Centre, and through that support he has achieved something any artist would be proud of.
If you’d like to help community members like Ceno, visit our Giving Guide to see the many ways you can! Bissell Centre Giving Guide
On Friday, September 7th at 12:09pm Bissell Centre staff, along with EFAN and many others, performed a Flash mob dance to our song “You Can Choose” from our rap video.
September 9th was International Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Awareness Day. We want everyone to know that FASD is 100% preventable if women avoid the use of alcohol during pregnancy.
Did you know that FASD affects more than 36,000 Albertans who may need services and supports that can cost up to $1.8 million each?
There are 12 FASD Service Networks that offer services and lifetime supports to Albertans with FASD and their caregivers.
Help make a difference. Register today for the Alberta FASD Conference being held in Edmonton October 22-23 http://bit.ly/QjPG1z
View our new FASD awareness music video
From the creative musical minds of PlanIt Sound – http://www.planitsound.com
Music Performed by Fred Brenton
Video Produced and Directed by Blake McWilliam
Video Director of Photography Mike McLaughlin
Featured Artists – Omar Mouallem (AOK), Manuela Wuthrich and R.J. Cui
It has been five weeks since the flood that damaged our Bissell East building, and we are happy to report that the services we provide in the community have remained as steady as ever – thanks to the support of our generous donors, and a little creativity from our staff!
One shining example of this dedication to Bissell programs can be found in our resident cook, Ian Szabo. Despite losing our kitchen facilities to flood damage, Ian has committed to providing healthy lunches to our drop in and child care without interruption. Since the flood, Bissell Centre has had access to a refrigerated food truck (courtesy of PTI Group Inc.), and our neighbors at the nearby Mustard Seed have been kind enough to share their kitchen facilities with our hardworking chef; every day Ian works hard to transport food back and forth from that kitchen directly to our programs.
When asked about the extra work going into his cooking these days, Ian simply reminds us that for him, “It’s all worth it for the kids”. Thanks to the generosity of our community and Ian’s hard work and creativity in the face of this challenge, we have been able to continue to provide crucial food services to the people in greatest need. Like many who work and volunteer at Bissell, he recognizes the importance of seeing our services provided without interruption so that we can continue to change the face of poverty in our community. Our thanks goes out to Ian, and to all of you who have kept Bissell Centre thriving in these challenging times!
Bissell Centre staff were pleased to lend a hand at this year’s Inner City BBQ coordinated by the Urban Core Support Network. Giovanni Caboto Park in Boyle McCauley comes alive every July as locals enjoy a free meal, recreation and entertainment in the outdoors.
Thanks to cooperative weather, and the efforts of volunteers and donors, the Inner City BBQ fed about 1,500 women, men and children living in poverty – including many Bissell Centre community members. It is because of our supporters that we are able to contribute to this wonderful event each year.
Breaking News: PTI Group delivering a loaded refrigerated grocery truck at 1pm! Filled with pallets of thousands of snacks, drinks, fruit, grocery bags and much more needed food items to our Bissell Centre East – 10527 96 Street.
The generous and speedy donation comes in response to Wednesday’s call for help after our basement flooded with sewage due to recent storms.
Information contact: Kristen Clark, firstname.lastname@example.org; 780.423.2285 ext 142, cell 780-964-7220
| Bissell Press Release Here |
| PTI Group Press Release on their website |
Help support our vision to eliminate poverty by volunteering at our Casino FUNdraiser and watch people win while raising money to help others!! With your help we will raise more than $70,000 to support our work with the people that need it most!
Bissell Centre has an opportunity for a group of select people to volunteer for an eight hour shift on Thursday July 19th or Friday July 20th at our casino fundraiser at Yellowhead Casino. The money raised that night will go towards running our programs and services and will help those ready to make significant changes in their lives by getting off the streets, finding employment, conquering addictions and more!
To volunteer please contact Amanda Almeida, Volunteer and Events Manager, by phone at 780.423.2285 ext. 134, or email at email@example.com.
More information on our News and Events page!