A Message from the CEO

Thank you to everyone who gave during the days and nights of snow and ice, and in celebration of Easter as well! Because of your gifts, hundreds of our guests were able to enjoy a delicious Easter meal in the warmth of community. Many of you took the time to write heartfelt messages on the Easter placemats we sent you. It was heartwarming to see our guests reading them–some even taking them home as a memento.

As we embrace the warmer weather, we’re looking forward to many upcoming events. There will be a National Aboriginal Day celebration on June 21st and our annual “Drop Your Gonch” event to collect clean underwear for people experiencing homelessness. We also celebrated our wonderful volunteers during National Volunteer Week. Lastly, we’re also gearing up for our summer family camps.

With so many events and programs on the go, Bissell Centre is bustling! Thank you for giving to make all the work we do possible. You are bringing joy to so many people, and we look forward to your ongoing support.

Gary St Amand
CEO, Bissell Centre

One Family’s Summer Camp Experience

Desmond and his wife have three children and are a low-income family. Even when the basics are covered, it’s hard not to feel like their kids are missing out. Like any good parents, Desmond and his wife want the best for their kids, so it’s heartbreaking when they can’t give them all the opportunities that they want for them.

Last summer, Desmond heard about the program through a friend who works at Bissell and could hardly believe that they didn’t need to bring anything except clothing and swimsuits. They weren’t sure what to expect, but were pleasantly surprised when they arrived.

The camp is a beautiful, waterfront property on Wabamun Lake, with a lot of space for the kids to run around and play together.

“Camp went beyond my expectations,” says Desmond. “My kids had a great time. We all loved canoeing and swimming and my son loved the little basketball court that was there, while my daughter loved the arts and crafts. There was so much for them to do, with the park, the firepit, the lake, and just the big open field. They loved it all!”

“We were kind of cooped up at home for summer break, and weren’t really doing a lot,” he says. “Going to camp gave us an opportunity to get away from the city and enjoy the beauty of nature.”

In the evenings, once the sun had set and the campfire and camp songs had sizzled out, the families would gather in a big circle around a television and watch a movie. Each morning, Desmond woke up before everyone else to experience the serene, silent sunrise. It was one of those small pleasures that set the tone for his whole day.

“We came home from camp feeling rejuvenated,” says Desmond. “It was so peaceful and relaxing.”

At camp, Desmond’s family also enjoyed meeting other families and making new friends. But most importantly, he feels like he knows his own kids better.

“I think camp brought our family closer together too,” he adds. “We all experienced something new at camp–for me it was canoeing–and I think that helped us bond.”

While camp is a good opportunity for children to make new friends, express creativity and build confidence, it’s also a good chance for parents to do a mental checkup. And now that a connection has been made, the door is open for them to access Bissell’s other programs and resources.

Desmond says that they are definitely looking forward to returning to camp this summer. “I want to say thank you to the volunteers who have taken time out of their schedules and to the staff for all their hard work,” he says. “It was a tough time for us and going to camp would have been impossible without Bissell.”

Like Desmond, we’re so grateful for everyone who gives to make programs like Family Camp possible–including generous donors like you. Thank you for playing such an important role in building a stronger, healthier community!

A Story of Monthly Giving:

For as long as Leslie and Rick can remember, they’ve known about Bissell Centre and believed in its mission. “Bissell is situated right where it needs to be. It’s here for people, and it’s easy for people to get to,” says Leslie. Living in Barrhead, a small town located two hours outside of Edmonton, she and Rick are the kind of people who place great importance on being involved in community. They’ve been a part of family and community support services in Barrhead for many years, and through their church participate in educational events about poverty.

“I think Bissell is wonderful because their programs are non-judgemental. And people who come here can access a whole bunch of different services.” –Leslie

A number of years ago, they found out about White Gift Sunday through their church. On Sundays, they were encouraged to bring a gift wrapped in white, which would be collected for Bissell Centre. They started giving basic items such as toothbrushes, toiletry sets, baby clothes, socks and underwear. Eventually, they started giving monetary donations and when they heard that they could sign up for monthly gifts, they jumped at the opportunity.

“I know how helpful it is to have a predictable income, for planning. And honestly, it helps me budget too!” says Leslie, full of humility. “I think Bissell is wonderful because their programs are non-judgemental. And people who come here can access a whole bunch of different services.”

We are so grateful for people like Leslie and Rick, who consider giving to be such an important part of living. Without support like theirs, the resources we provide to the community would not be possible!

Become a Community Hero!

Community Heroes is a special group of people who are exceptionally passionate about making a lasting difference. By signing up to become a Community Hero, you are making a pledge to give monthly. You are helping us plan confidently for the future of Bissell Centre and more importantly, you’re paving a path toward long-term health, strength and belonging for our community members. Become a Community Hero today! bissellcentre.org/hero

*sorry, no capes included

Upcoming Summer Events

Bissell is planning a summer full of fun activities, providing perfect opportunities for the community to get involved. For people and families who are struggling, a chance to forge supportive new friendships and access life-giving resources is essential. Below are a few of the upcoming events that we’re most excited about:

  • Summer Family Camps for 36 families at Moonlight Bay Centre
  • National Aboriginal Day celebrations at our Drop in Centre on June 21st
  • 4th annual “Drop Your Gonch” underwear drive in July