Message from the CEO
Looking ahead to an exciting season!
Thanks to you, our participants have come through a long, cold winter, and are enjoying what is shaping up to be an exciting spring!
It started with our Easter meals. Thanks to our generous donors, our guests enjoyed a tasty meal and celebrated life together. The kind messages many of you took time to write on the placemats were especially appreciated.
Looking ahead, we are thrilled to be opening our new community space this spring! This year also marks our fifth year of “Drop your Gonch,” which has raised a total of 12,600 pairs of new underwear for our guests. We’re looking forward to celebrating National Indigenous Peoples Day. There will be traditional Indigenous food, music, drumming, dancing, and crafts. It’s sure to be a great day, and we’d love to see you there!
Finally, our family camps are fast approaching. This year we are hosting three camps, and we are so excited for these families to spend time together!
With so many events coming up, Bissell Centre is bustling! But we couldn’t do any of this without you. Thank you for your support. You are making a world of difference to people in need, and truly transforming your community.
Gary St. Amand
CEO, Bissell Centre
Camp Creates Bonds that Last a Lifetime
Lorissa and Corey’s family’s first camping trip!
As a family living in poverty, Lorissa and Corey live within their means, but don’t have money for extras. For parents who want to give their kids the best, this can be disheartening. Getting connected with Bissell Centre has enabled them to give their kids more than they otherwise could, including a camping trip at one of our family camps!
Set at Moonlight Bay Centre, these camps give parents that can’t afford to go on a trip like this the chance to experience four days in the great outdoors with their whole family! It gave Lorissa and Corey’s kids the first camping experience of their lives.
And they loved it! They swam in the lake, played badminton for the first time, and watched the stars come out—something not possible at their home in the city. Because their family lives in a very busy, noisy neighbourhood, the chance to experience the peacefulness and fun of the outdoors was treasured by all. They can’t wait to go back!
“Kori [their youngest] is so excited for camp… she always has her backpack ready!” – Lorissa
This trip didn’t just give them memories to last a lifetime. It also created important changes in their family. Lorissa and Corey have noticed that since playing with the other kids at camp, their three kids are more social. They have also conquered their fear of swimming, and had a blast paddling around the lake!
“[Camp] helped the kids to make new friends and interact with new people…the team sports/group activities helped with the kids’ confidence.” – Corey
This trip also gave Lorissa and Corey a break from the many stresses they face every day. As parents raising children in poverty, there are many worries that take up their days – will we be able to pay rent? What will we eat next week? How can I give the best to my kids? Camp was a break from all of that. It was a chance to breathe deeply and let some of the worries go.
This chance to be together worry-free was one of Corey’s favourite parts of the trip. Less worries meant that they could spend more time focusing on their family. For Lorissa and Corey, camp was a great place for their family to bond and come together to love each other.
This is what our camps are all about: giving families the space to spend time together in a worry-free environment, have new experiences together, and strengthen their relationships. Opportunities like this are what create transformative change for each of our guests. Camp is a unique way to provide that to families that could not experience it otherwise. Whether it’s singing around a campfire, jumping into the lake, or simply appreciating the stars in a dark sky, this time is special. And we couldn’t provide any of it without you. Your support makes this transformative change possible—thank you so much!
Introducing Inter Pipeline
Here at Bissell Centre, we know that homelessness is a multifaceted issue, and it is always encouraging to make a connection with others who believe the same. That’s what happened in the case of Inter Pipeline. They resonated with the work of our Outreach Housing Team during a tour in 2015.
“[Bissell Centre] actively engages with Edmonton’s vulnerable and underserved. It’s the grassroots approach; not only are they working tirelessly to help people off the streets but they provide the critical follow-up support to make it a successful solution.” – Craig Stirling, Supervisor at Inter Pipeline
Inter Pipeline has been a constant supporter for the last three years, and we are excited to be continuing our partnership with them into 2018. They have pledged to contribute $750,000 through their iCare Program to fund renovations at Bissell Centre, including the new community space. This space will help more people obtain the support they need, easier access to programming, and a greater opportunity to build a stronger community. For individuals faced with homelessness, the stability from a place like this is critical for overcoming life’s obstacles.
We are so thankful to be working with organizations like Inter Pipeline that share our passion for seeing lives changed. Without generous supporters like them, this work would not be possible!
We Couldn’t Do It Without YOU!
A Summer of Amazing Volunteers
Summer at Bissell Centre is a great time to come together as a community. Every year, our hard-working volunteers change lives in our summer programs, and we are so grateful for all their work!
- This year we are hosting three family camps. We need sponsors for 36 families – that’s over 50 kids hoping to go to camp!
- National Indigenous People’s Day is June 21st! We’re going to celebrate, and we’d love for you to join us.
- In July, we are hosting our fifth “Drop Your Gonch” event to collect underwear donations for our guests. Last year’s event raised an amazing 4,800 pairs!
Here are some of the reasons our volunteers love spending time with us:
- “I like to volunteer because I want to help and know the people better” – Cindy, Reception and New Community Space
- “Volunteering gives me self-satisfaction and I love playing with children” – Maureen, Bissell Centre’s Childcare
- “Bissell Centre considers me a part of the team and the overall of cause of helping people in the community is very important” – Michael, Community Meals