Individuals connected to our Fetal Alcohol Spectrum of Services (FASS) program contributed to a book about the challenges and realities of navigating life with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). Under the guidance of Jared Epp, Carleton University PhD candidate and former housing support worker with Bissell Centre, who facilitated the group in sharing stories of what was most important to them. Fifteen people shared their stories, captured in this captivating collection. Born Broken is a book that’s an immersive experience into what it means to have FASD and the barriers it can create.
The group celebrated the release of this Born Broken book this past month with a small and intimate reading and sharing. Everyone who contributed to the book received a copy, and a few were shared around the community to help spread its positive message.
Copies of Born Broken books are available to purchase from the Bissell Thrift Shop on 118 Avenue..
Below is the preface to the book, written by Jared Epp. This firsthand experience of seeing the collection come together illuminated the importance of this book for the contributors and for those about to read it and gain a better understanding of FASD.
Preface from Born Broken
A group of individuals connected to Bissell Centre’s Fetal Alcohol Spectrum of Services (FASS) came together for a book project. The goal was to provide an opportunity for folks to share whatever kind of content they wanted. Leaving it open-ended allowed the individuals participating in the project to share what was meaningful to them. Their contributions didn’t have to only be about living with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). A number of contributors did want to share their stories about living with FAD, about their daily challenges, as well as the impact of receiving their diagnosis. Others talked about different things. There are stories about adventure on Edmonton’s public transit, sewing denim, dreaming, making music and art, the challenges of finding and keeping a job and many other events and situations the reader will soon encounter.
Woven throughout the book are stories, ideas, frustrations, thoughts and reflections, offering a window into the experience of entering into the world a certain way.
In our last group meeting, we had to come up with a title for the book. Each contributor present was invited to come up with some titles, and then there would be a vote.
These were the title ideas:
- Born Broken
- The Struggle is Real
- Drumbeats of Hope
- Light in the Dark
- Perfectly Imperfect
- Getting Dealt a Bad Hand
Everyone had agreed on Heidi’s subtitle, “Reflections on Life and Resiliency from Individuals living with FASD,” as it put a positive spin on the main title.
Born Broken won by one vote over The Struggle is Real and Light in the Dark. There was a lot of discussion and debate on the chosen title. Some people felt it was too negative, but they also acknowledged it’s sentiment. In many ways, the titles and the debate around it set a theme that echoes through each story: individuals confronting and overcoming something they were born with, have no control over, and yet seems invisible to those outside the lived experience of FASD. The reader is invited to encounter the diverse contributions within the book, keeping in mind the unsettled nature of its title and the realities of living with FASD.
Every year, Tim Horton’s holds its Smile Cookie fundraiser, where each local franchise owner can pick a charity in their community that the proceeds from cookie sales will support. It’s a great way to help raise money for great causes directly in our communities!
This year, a group of Edmonton franchise owners decided to try something different. The group agreed to pool their efforts to make a larger collective impact – ultimately choosing Bissell Centre as their charity of choice.
And just like that, this quickly became one of the largest fundraising campaigns we’ve held – raising more than $400,000 in a single week.
Bissell’s Child and Family Supports
Funds from this spring’s Smile Cookie campaign all went to support our Child and Family Supports Program. Last year, we helped more than 1,600 families find their way out of poverty and emergency situations. These programs make a massive impact that people in Edmonton don’t often see.
“It’s things like connections to free pre-natal care, parental supports, or free access to emergency essentials like diapers and formula,” says Jonathan Mackereth, Development Officer with Bissell Centre.
Mackereth explains that Bissell has run a childcare for more than 50 years, serving families in the downtown core. The centre is fully staffed by Early Childhood Education professionals, providing Early Childhood Development for short- and long-term – serving childcare from newborns to six years old.
“There’s are enough challenges finding quality childcare – finances shouldn’t be one of them,” says Mackereth “Lots of parents even drop-off their kids to access other programs like our Employment Services or Financial Empowerment workshops, making it an essential part of our approach to ending poverty.”
Supporting and Celebrating Together
Learning that 147 Tim’s locations all came together to support Bissell Centre, “caught us a little off guard,” Jonathan jokes. “We knew right away opportunities like this don’t come often. We pooled resources into making sure folks knew that buying a cookie would help a child.”
Team members from Bissell Centre could be found at a few different locations around the city during this campaign. Whether it was celebrating with giant cookie cut-outs by the drive-thru, or putting on hair nets and decorating cookies, the teams stepped up to make the week unforgettable.
By the end of the campaign, more than 300,000 cookies were sold – raising more than $464,000! People didn’t hesitate to add a smile cookie to their regular double-double orders – with some businesses and schools pre-ordering up to 1,500 cookies at a time.
“On the first day, we had a manager come out to see us,” Jonathan recalls. “She said in the first two hours of the morning rush, they sold more than a quarter of the cookies they sold for the entire campaign last year.”
We can’t thank the Edmonton Tim’s franchisees enough for all the support they’ve given us. This will directly impact families and children experiencing houselessness and poverty in Edmonton. Thank you for helping us make Edmonton a little bit more of an equitable place to call home.
Bissell Centre’s Community Kitchen, part of the larger Community Space renovation, opened in October 2018 and has since been providing individuals who are experiencing homelessness and newly-housed program participants with the skills and confidence to make healthy and affordable meals.
Bissell Centre’s Jennifer McDonald-Robinson has been running the programming in the kitchen since it opened, and she is excited about the impact the community kitchen is making on the lives of the participants so far.
“For a lot of people who are living in poverty, it can become an all-encompassing thing. Poverty affects their emotional, mental, physical and every part of their well-being,” explains Jennifer. “The folks that access our services at Bissell are people coming from food insecure households and because of that they’re more likely to suffer from emotional, mental and physical health difficulties.”
Jennifer believes that by teaching program participants the skills to create nutritious and delicious food for themselves, it can help break that cycle of poverty and isolation.
“Just because they’re experiencing homelessness doesn’t mean they don’t like good food.”
“With most of the food for the community kitchen coming from the food bank, it gives participants an opportunity to learn what they can create from the food bank items,” explains Jennifer. “We can show them different ways to use a can of beans, because eating just a can of beans can be boring. Just because they’re experiencing homelessness doesn’t mean they don’t like good food.”
Jennifer goes on to explain that with poverty, there is also an isolation component. Having participants out and interacting in a positive space really helps ward off social isolation.
One of participant Barry’s favourite things about the community kitchen is getting to meet new people and to not be alone.
“There were two gentlemen who are accessing the program who were a bit withdrawn at first,” explains Jennifer. “But now they meet at the library to look up recipes for the program.”
Jennifer feels that having the opportunity to gather together in the kitchen gives people a boost to their social lives, which can be just as much of a benefit as the culinary skills they walk away with each week.
Barry is particularly excited about what he’s learning.
“It’s teaching me how to cook for myself and how to follow a recipe,” Barry explains.
For many program participants, inter-generational trauma has prevented them from acquiring the kitchen skills they need in their lives.
“They missed out on a lot of those basic teachings that perhaps a lot of other people have because of their trauma,” explains Jennifer. “And if they were taught those skills and experienced homelessness for a period of time, those skills lay dormant and they can forget them.”
“There were things I wasn’t taught… So now I’m learning them and I can cook for people.”
“There were things I wasn’t taught,” says participant Rocky. “So now I’m learning them and I can cook for people.”
This is why the simple act of creating a meal or a dish gives participants so much joy.
Bissell will be inviting local chefs to come in and teach program participants various kitchen techniques. Community Kitchen programs run on Mondays and Thursdays, as well as an indigenous walk-in program every 2nd Friday. Here, program participants are learning invaluable kitchen skills and building supportive relationships that will help them move out of poverty and feel empowered while doing so.
Got kitchen skills you’d like to share with our participants? We want to hear from you! Email Jen here.
Guest post by Jacquie DuVal
This past year brought a lot of positive change and much to be celebrated. Each change has brought us one step closer to our goal of eliminating poverty in our community. Thanks to our incredible supporters, we saw some huge successes and were able to better serve our participants’ needs. Here are 7 of the most notable happenings of 2018.
1) Supporters Raise $78,000 in Winter Walk Fundraiser – Sponsored by DistributionNOW
On February 24th, Edmontonians walked 2, 5 or 10k in the shoes of those experiencing poverty and homelessness for our first year hosting the Coldest Night of the Year (CNOY) national fundraising walk. Over 340 walkers and 61 teams came together and walked in freezing temperatures to help us raise over $75,000 for our programs, while local businesses like LOVEPizza and The Nook Café provided warmth and treats for our walkers. #WalkForBissell again on February 23rd during this year’s Coldest Night of the Year.
2) Newly Renovated Community Space Opens
On June 11th, we officially opened the doors of our newly renovated Community Space! Our new space has dramatically improved people’s ability to access services to meet their basic needs, connect to supports, develop skills, and build relationships, all of which are essential to overcoming poverty and homelessness. Our thanks goes out to Inter Pipeline and other amazing supporters that provided the funds for this project. Learn more and watch the video tour here!
3) Over 20,000 Bottles of Water Donated During Heatwave
This past summer in Edmonton brought record high temperatures and relentless heat waves. In response to our social media callout, generous individuals and numerous companies donated over 20,000 bottles of water to keep people on the streets hydrated, in addition to summer clothing and other readily available supplies like hats and sunscreen. Thanks to the support of our community, our participants were able to keep cool and hydrated during the hot, summer days.
4) Funding Received to Continue Eviction Prevention Program
In November, we were thrilled to announce that funding had been renewed for our Community Bridge Program! This program helps our participants prevent imminent eviction and provides interventions and services to ensure the causes of the eviction are effectively addressed to prevent re-occurrence. Thanks to the generosity of our partners ENMAX, Edmonton Community Foundation, and EndPovertyEdmonton, participants like Millie and Wendy will continue to have a safe home to return to at night.
5) Over 9,000 Pairs of Underwear Collected During Annual Drive
In July, we held our 5th annual Drop Your Gonch Underwear Drive. Underwear is one of the most highly requested, yet least donated items for our participants. This year, the local community blew us away with their support. We originally set out with a goal of 5,000 donated pairs, but once the donations started coming in, we increased it to 6,000, then 8,000, and ending up collecting over 9,000 pairs! The underwear donations helped us bring dignity to those experiencing homelessness, and we couldn’t have been more grateful.
6) Initial Funding Received to Expand and Relocate Childcare Centre
After 45 years in operation, our Childcare is expanding to meet the needs of even more families in Edmonton. We will be creating 30 new full-time spots for our accredited childcare services, in addition to the 40 free respite spots already available. Our current facility is too small to accommodate the expansion, so we will be moving to a new location in the heart of the McCauley community. While the initial funding has been secured to move forward with the project, we are still in need of additional funds to complete the renovation. Check out the initial design renderings of the new Centre here. Interested in supporting and learning more? Please contact Kelly Hoskins.
7) Participants get Cooking in New Community Kitchen
In October, we opened the Community Kitchen in our new Community Space. After identifying a lack of basic cooking knowledge as a barrier to keeping newly-housed individuals in their homes, we developed programming that allows participants to build skills, improve health, and foster relationships through cooking classes, workshops and community meals. Our participants have made some delicious meals together, including Ham and Corn Chowder with Bannock, Roasted Chicken with a Pineapple Ginger Glaze, and Shepherd’s Pie. Yum! Learn more about our Community Kitchen here.
We are humbled by the continued support of our amazing community. The work we do at Bissell Centre wouldn’t be possible without the generosity of people like you!
From all of us here at Bissell, THANK YOU for helping empower people to move from poverty to prosperity! We can’t wait to see what 2019 will bring!
Help create more memories like these by joining our family of supporters today. Make a donation.
Are you looking for an ideal place to have your staff retreatâ€¦ leadership or executive campâ€¦ a scrap booking weekendâ€¦ regatta partyâ€¦ dream weddingâ€¦ parent’s 50th anniversaryâ€¦ or perhaps a group of friends just want to get away from the city for some respite from the city hustle and bustle.
Well, Moonlight Bay Centre may be what you are looking for.It’s only 45 minutes from Edmonton and on over two acres of lakefront property.
The Dining Hall and Recreation Hall were erected a few years ago and all of our cabins have been renovated. Imagine the possibilities:
- Organizational retreats and workshops
- Hold cooking lessons in our industrial kitchen
- Family reunions
- Health and Wellness retreats
- Special Interest retreats (scrap bookiing, art camps, photography events)
- Fundraising events
- Faith Community events
- Outdoor Festivals
In addition to our cabins, there is camping available on our grounds and we are also next door to the Provincial Campgrounds.
Remember when you book at Moonlight Bay Centre, Bissell Centre uses revenues to help fund camps for low income families.
Right now, there’s special pricing too. You can download it by CLICKING HERE.
Contact Patti Gallance for more info at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 780.242.9438.
Follow MBC on Twitter: @moonlightbayctr
24/7 Mobile Assistance Program (24/7 MAP) is a pilot program that actively addresses the underlying causes of vulnerability. These causes often include lack of housing, addictions and physical/mental illness, amongst a variety of other difficulties that Edmonton’s homeless population faces. Supported by REACH Edmonton and Homeward Trust, 24/7 MAP will be benefitting our homeless population and the City of Edmonton by decreasing dependency on emergency services while increasing access to necessary supports.
Our Commitment to the Community
It’s an unfortunate reality that when homeless members of our population need immediate help, they often have nowhere to turn and can’t access appropriate support services. If an issue isn’t addressed quickly and effectively it can often snowball and create undue costs:
– Housing homeless citizens in shelters can cost $1,932 per month.
– An individual in jail for a month costs $4,333.
– A hospital bed can cost $10,900 per month.
By working closely with 211 Edmonton (a program of The Support Network) and first responders, 24/7 MAP assists in crisis situations and provides assertive support and referrals for the most vulnerable members of our population. This approach will more effectively address the needs of individuals and relieve the costs that come with emergency medical, police and judicial services.
Real Solutions for Crisis Situations
When a homeless individual is in need of assistance, but the nature of their crisis isn’t appropriate for EPS or EMS involvement, the 24/7 MAP team intervenes. The team consists of multi-disciplinary staff that can address diverse needs through assertive engagement and who will bring resolution to the situation that has prompted their involvement.
Once the 24/7 MAP team has addressed the immediate situation they will then be able to work with the individual to develop a support and referral plan. The most important element of the plan is helping the individual find housing; the team has been funded to provide 80 housing placements annually. Once housed, we’re able to provide Follow up Support, and assist in accessing any resources necessary.