We can’t say enough about our Community Space. This is the central hub where folks can come by for a hot meal, hot shower, fresh clothes, and to build relationships with people to grow their support network.
This space is invaluable to the folks who access its services every day. And, this is why our biggest fundraiser of the year, our Coldest Night of the Year walkathon, sees money raised going directly back into the operations and programs in the Community Space. For a lot of folks, this space is so much more than a warm, indoor place to meet daily necessities – it can also be the first step towards finding their unique pathways out of poverty.
Relationships are everything in the Community Space.
While things like meals and showers might be what first brings people through the doors, they soon learn what other programs might help them along. We offer programs like housing, employment, and mental health, to name a few, which help uncover what barriers people are facing. As staff work to build relationships with people to help find their strengths, folks can start recognizing how best to address these root causes.
No two experiences with houselessness are alike. Building positive relationships can help people recognize their strengths and resiliency – ultimately helping them find their path out of poverty. And, when they’re ready to take those first steps in their journey, Bissell Centre staff help find the resources they need to live a good quality of life.
Every journey is unique – and everyone gives back differently.
Doug has been coming to the Community Space for a few years now. In his own words, it’s his home away from home. The relationships he’s built are like family to him. And like any good family, he finds ways to give back.
The main way Doug gives back to the Community Space is by volunteering in the Community Closet, helping folks find new clothes. Other times, Doug walks around the encampments nearby to see if anyone needs any help. Any way that Doug can help, he wants to offer it to the community that’s given him so much.
“If it weren’t for Bissell Centre, I think we’d all be lost,” says Doug. “They’re helping me out, so I want to help them out too.”
How you can help too.
This year’s Coldest Night of the Year fundraising walk sees all proceeds raised going directly back to the Community Space to support its invaluable operations and programs. Start a team, raise some money, and bring out the whole family for a walk downtown on February 24, 2024. Thank you to all our event sponsors, including our Lead Sponsor Capital Power for providing the single largest sponsorship contribution we have ever received.
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.