February 2019 | Bissell Centre

Message from the CEO

This winter, hundreds of people have come through our doors in need of a warm place to stay and a safe place to connect, seeking essential items and help with basic needs. It’s thanks to generous donors like you that Edmontonians in need are receiving life-saving support when they come to the Bissell Centre.

With more cold days ahead in 2019 and many people still struggling with issues of poverty, hundreds more will come to us in need of warmth and safety.

With your continued support, the people we serve will receive the encouragement and support they need to meet their own basic needs and build better lives.  

Thank you for your outstanding generosity and support.

Gratefully,

Gary St. Amand
CEO, Bissell Centre

From Nothing to Everything

How Bissell Centre Saved My Life

If Bissell Centre didn’t exist, I’d be dead—I know I’d be dead. Before they helped me, I had nothing, and now, I have everything. My name is Dave and I’m originally from BC, but moved to Yellowknife, a colder and darker city than Edmonton. Believe it.

Although I was living in Yellowknife for work, the city didn’t work for me. My alcohol abuse landed me in and out of jail, and I reached a point where I said to myself, “Dave, you’ve gotta go, this city’s killing you.” So I left. I hoped moving to Edmonton would give me a new start after the hard times I’d faced up north.

When I got to Edmonton, things didn’t turn out how I planned. I didn’t know anyone in the city, and I couldn’t find a place of my own. Immediately, I ended up on the streets living rough.

I didn’t own much, but I kept my few possessions in garbage bags and carried them with me.

I went to Bissell Centre pretty quickly after coming to Edmonton, and eventually it became the closest thing that I had to a home. Bissell Centre staff really care about you—they became my good friends, too.

Bissell Centre staff connected me with an addictions and mental health worker. They also assigned a housing worker to help find me a place. Through the Homeless to Homes program at Bissell Centre, I have a home of my own, after 10 years on the street!

I’ve worked hard to recover from alcohol addiction and I’m proud to say that I’m 15 months sober!

In May of 2018, I was at home by myself and something happened to my sight. Everything looked distorted and blurry. My right side felt numb and weak. I couldn’t walk and I slumped to the floor. It was a couple of days before a neighbour found me and called 911. I didn’t think I would make it. But thanks to my neighbour, the paramedics came and took me to the hospital where they told me that I’d had a stroke.

Somehow, Bissell Centre staff learned that I was missing and found me in the hospital. While I was in the hospital, they worked with my landlord to find me a new apartment—my old place was on the third floor and would’ve been impossible for me to access.

Bissell Centre’s staff have gone above and beyond for me. They’re currently helping me to get into a lodge that can help me with my rehabilitation.

Before I got sober, I didn’t care. But now, I can spend my money on things that I actually enjoy, like books and DVDs. Getting housed was right on! I’ve even reconnected with my son.

I am grateful to Bissell Centre and to the people who give to them and make their work possible. Without the help of the Bissell Centre, I would have died on the street. I had nothing, and now I have everything.

Child Care, Thanks to You!

Leading the Way Out of Poverty

Did you know that families who live in poverty are sometimes forced to choose between paying rent and buying food? It’s a terrible choice for anyone to have to make, especially if you’re caring for children.

At Bissell Centre, we believe that if families are provided with affordable, high-quality child care, then they can focus on what they need to do to move out of poverty, such as gaining meaningful employment, addressing mental health concerns and pursuing further education.

That’s why a core component of our Child and Family Resources program is a fully accredited and licensed child care facility that provides 40 respite spots each day. Thanks to donors like you, this program is free, can be accessed on a drop-in basis.

While their children are in care, parents can attend employment training, medical appointments, search for housing, handle legal matters or attend job interviews.

Thanks to our generous community of supporters, this year, we will be relocating and expanding our child care to provide affordable, full-time child care. This will enable us to provide opportunities for parents who work or attend school full time, so families can become self-sufficient, achieve stability and independently meet their family’s needs.

Donors like you are giving parents and guardians a more stable living environment, so that children can also thrive!  

DistributionNOW Commits to Changing Lives!

Generosity that Helps the Whole Community!

DistributionNOW is an energy company committed to social responsibility through their Lights Program.

At Bissell Centre, we have benefited immensely from their generous spirit! DistributionNOW is always looking for ways to get their employees involved in Bissell Centre’s vision of the elimination of poverty in the community.

DistributionNOW has been volunteering at Bissell Centre since April 2017. Their employees have committed to monthly volunteering and given Bissell Centre over 100 hours of their time. They have served meals, volunteered at Summer Camp, and more!

In 2018, DistributionNOW stepped up as the lead sponsor of our 1st Annual Coldest Night of the Year event. They have also donated bottles of water and organized an employee drive to support our seasonal activities.

Thanks to this amazing partnership, we are better able to serve all our clients. We want to send out a heartfelt thank you!

Easter’s on Its Way…

Help Us Get Ready!

Easter is a time for growth and renewal, but empowering people to change their lives is only possible with the support of donors like you.

This Easter, Bissell Centre will be serving a delicious, traditional Easter meal of ham, mashed potatoes and roasted vegetables to Edmontonians in need. None of this would be possible without the help of our amazing and generous supporters like you.

If you are looking for other ways to give back this year, consider volunteering! We will be hosting our annual Coldest Night of the Year Walk-a-Thon on February 23rd and we need plenty of help—and participants—to make it a success.

There’s something for everyone at Bissell Centre and we’d love to see you join us!