Message from the CEO
It has been a busy winter at Bissell Centre! For people experiencing poverty and homelessness, the bitter cold is dangerous and exhausting. With some of the coldest days still ahead, it’s more important than ever to provide life-changing services and supports to our community.
Our wide range of programs help individuals and families find housing, employment, and so much more. But it wouldn’t be possible without your help.
I want to express a heartfelt thank you for everything you’ve given. Thanks to your support, our community enjoyed a deliciously festive Christmas meal, and participated in our annual Chili Cook-Off. Thank you for giving so generously to make this a reality.
May you and yours feel the hope of new beginnings, peace, and happiness as we approach the Easter holiday.
Gary St. Amand
CEO, Bissell Centre
“When I’m here, I feel like I belong”
How Bissell Centre Gave Me Hope
The course of your life can change in an instant. One minute things are going well, and the next you’ve got nothing. Without the help of Bissell Centre who knows where I’d be.
My name is Theresa, and I’d like to tell you my story.
I always worked hard. At 18 years old, I started working at a daycare centre. I just wanted to make my papa proud up in heaven. I worked hard at that job for 20 years. I was real proud of myself. Until everything changed.
Within one year, I lost my job, my house burned down, my mom died.
My parents had always been alcoholics. My mom drank her whole life, even during pregnancy. I know she loved me, but she had a problem. She couldn’t stop.
My dad died when I was just 17 years old from kidney failure. That hit me hard. I was always a daddy’s girl. My mom was never the same after dad died.
She drank and drank and drank until she was homeless, living on the streets. When she died, she didn’t have any ID—she was dead for a week before I even knew. I loved my mom. I was devastated by her death.
Not long after, I was diagnosed with depression & anxiety.
I always felt that something was different about me. Living with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder isn’t easy. I wasn’t like other kids and I was put in special classes in school. I took classes like Animal Science where I got to be with animals. I cleaned their cages and took care of them. I’ve always liked working with animals and plants. And children. I really loved working in the daycare.
When I lost my job, Bissell Centre saved me.
I’ve been coming here for a few years now. I’d be lost without them. Florence has been my guardian angel. She told me about AISH (Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped) and helped me apply. I never would have known that there was help out there for me.
Bissell Centre has helped me get through the hard times. I come here and sit with friends, talk to people, do colouring. The chefs come in and make a nice meal for you when you attend the classes. I love the programs.
I’m taking the Art of Friendship course. They help us with communication, how to deal with emotions, and how to connect with other people. I met a friend there who had really bad anxiety too. It helps to know I’m not alone.
I’m so grateful Bissell Centre offers the support they do. When I’m here, I feel like I belong.
There are so many great programs, like haircutters, blood-testing, and help to find housing. It’s a place for people like me to come when they need help to get back on their feet, even just to have a hot meal. The staff here truly want to help.
Bissell Centre was there for me when I needed it the most, when I lost everything. They gave me hope, and I am so grateful.
Healing Our Community Together
Serving Meals, Giving Hope
Thanks to the support of our incredible donors, Bissell Centre’s community members enjoyed a festive Christmas season filled with joy and celebration.
The halls were decked and the tables were set as guests gathered to enjoy our annual Christmas meal and New Year’s Day dinner. Because of your support, we served over 400 heart-warming meals this year!
The delicious food and cheerful decorations brightened the season for hundreds of inner-city community members in need. It was a wonderful opportunity for people to come together to find connection, warmth, and encouragement during an often lonely time of year.
It’s because of supporters like you that our community was able to enjoy a holiday season filled with shared food, fun and festivity! Thank you!
In the Spirit of Generosity
A Recipe For Community
Since 1967, the Southminster-Steinhauer United Church (SSUC) has been dedicated to community, outreach and service. For the past 25 years, they have been generous supporters of Bissell Centre, and have worked to help keep our programs alive.
In addition to regular financial contributions, SSUC has been involved in providing essential items to our community members during times of need. In 2016, just as Bissell Centre was fundraising for renovations on the new community space, SSUC sold two church properties and donated the proceeds towards projects that addressed housing, outreach and spirituality—aligning perfectly with our values.
This shared vision resulted in SSUC becoming a major contributor to our renovated community space. Thanks to their generosity, and gifts from donors like you, this space now provides support every day to people in our community, so they can rise up out of poverty and find hope for the future. A huge thank you to SSUC and to all of our amazing supporters!
Walking Together for Change
Braving the Cold, Making a Difference
Winter is a dangerous time for people in Edmonton who are facing homelessness. The biting winds and sub-zero temperatures can be life-threatening. On February 22, you can brave the cold with us to change lives at our annual Coldest Night of the Year event!
This year, the event funds raised will be used towards our Community Space, which offers immediate support to individuals and families in our area by meeting basic needs like food, hygiene facilities, clothing, and shelter.
Together, we can provide life-changing support and help to empower those in need to move from poverty to prosperity.