A Message from the CEO
It has been a busy winter at Bissell Centre, and cold weather and icy winds have brought more people through our doors seeking warmth and hot meals. Bissell Centre’s wide range of programs helps guests find housing, employment, and so much more. But it wouldn’t be possible without our generous donors.
I want to say a heartfelt thank you for everything you’ve given, particularly during the Christmas season. We are so grateful for the opportunities you have made possible with your generosity.
Now, as we look ahead to a busy Easter season, we anticipate an exciting time of growth and celebration for all of our guests. It is a chance for a fresh start. With your help, guests can continue to rebuild their lives and find lasting healing.
May you feel the hope of new beginnings, love and happiness during this joyful Easter holiday.
Gary St. Amand
CEO, Bissell Centre
Finding Peace: Millie’s Story
My name is Millie and today I’m thankful to have a home, my health, and one year of sobriety. Two years ago I was facing eviction and homelessness. Without Bissell Centre’s hot meals, I would have gone hungry, and without help from their caring staff, I would have ended up back on the streets.
I’ve been battling addiction, violence, and poverty all my life. I grew up in a turbulent, sometimes violent household. After watching and experiencing the cycle of substance abuse in my family, I vowed I’d never drink, but things didn’t go the way I planned.
At 24, I fell in love, got married, and had two children. After a few years together, my husband’s behaviour became all too familiar. He had an alcohol addiction and was becoming increasingly violent. I started coping by drinking as well. Soon, I was forced to pack up my kids and move into my car until we could get into a shelter.
Life as a single-parent was never easy, but I was determined to give my kids a good life. My kids and I have had many successes together, but sadly, the pain of my childhood and married years was always there in the background. Achieving sobriety has become a lifelong battle, adding extra challenges to my already complicated life.
“I was struggling to put food on the table. Without Bissell Centre’s daily meals, I would have gone hungry.” —Millie
Two years ago my rent was raised unexpectedly. This increase meant that after paying for rent, my phone bill, and a bus pass, I was left with $30 per month for all other costs. Needless to say, I was struggling to put food on the table.
Bissell Centre’s program, Community Bridge helped me with rent and utilities in my time of emergency. I was so incredibly relieved to get help, and not be struggling by myself anymore. Now I have a safe home to go to every night, and for that I’m so grateful. I wake up every day not having to worry about where I’ll find a meal.
Today, I’ve been sober for almost a year. Every day sober is an achievement. I am also a Peer Outreach Worker providing street-level support for people dealing with addictions and I’m finally at peace with myself and my world.
If you would like to support programs like Community Bridge, please give today. Your gift could change someone’s life.
Leaving a Legacy
Gayle’s Story of Giving
Gayle Simonson is a plant research scientist, history writer, and proud supporter of Bissell Centre. She first connected with Bissell Centre through the United Church. One particular visit made a big impact on her and her husband.
“Many years ago, I visited Bissell Centre to do some video work on behalf of the United Church,” says Gayle. “My husband was waiting for me and looking around when one of the guests came over to him. The guest said, ‘Oh you are new here. You better get in line because the sandwiches go fast.’ It was clear that guests at Bissell Centre were part of a loving community. Everyone was concerned about each other and about new people coming in.”
After seeing how Bissell Centre’s programs were transforming people’s lives, Gayle decided that she needed to help make a difference. “I want to make as much of a positive impact as I can in my lifetime. It’s not just about helping one or two people—it’s about transforming our city.”
Every summer, Gayle makes a special donation in loving memory of her husband and mother-in-law, and she encourages others to find their own way of giving. “I believe everyone should find small ways to make an impact in their community. A small gesture can make a big difference,” says Gayle.
Legacy Giving is one way to make a lasting impact. To learn more about the different ways to make a legacy gift to Bissell Centre, please contact Cherise Roberts by calling 780.423.2285 ext. 195 or emailing [email protected].
Looking Ahead to Easter
On March 29th, over 300 guests will be welcomed in to enjoy a special, Easter meal that includes turkey, mashed potatoes, and delicious roasted vegetables. This is an opportunity for guests, volunteers, and staff to come together like a big family and build relationships within a supportive community environment.
National Volunteer Week starts on April 15th! We’ll be celebrating the contributions of our 1,600 yearly volunteers who provide vital services to our participants. If you’re a volunteer, come get in on the fun!
Please give generously this Easter. Your support could give someone the fresh start they are desperately hoping to receive.