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2022 Spring Newsletter

Message from CEO

Dear Friends,

A heartfelt thank you to everyone who shared love and support through Bissell Centre this spring. You helped hundreds of families and individuals receive basic needs, housing and financial support, nutritious meals, and more.

Now that summer is here, mark your calendars for June 21st. In celebration of National Indigenous Peoples Day, Bissell Centre will be hosting a special event with traditional Indigenous food, music, drumming, dancing and crafts.

Coming in July is the 8th annual Drop Your Gonch underwear drive. With your help, we hope to collect even more this year.

We are so grateful for the support of generous people like you! Helping Edmontonians move from homelessness and poverty to prosperity wouldn’t be possible without you.

Gratefully,

Gary St. Amand
CEO, Bissell Centre

Equipped and Ready for Big Things Ahead

Have you ever felt totally stuck, unsure of what your next move should be? When Ron was laid off, it seemed he had slipped into a world of locked doors. After applying for countless jobs, he became discouraged and couldn’t see a way out.

In his past, Ron had worked as an electrician, but after losing hope that he’d find a job in his field, he let his ticketing lapse. Bills were piling up. Ron was falling behind financially, and looming on the horizon was the very scary, and very real possibility of becoming homeless.

With everything on the line, Ron made his way to Bissell Centre for help. At first, he started coming for meals on days when food was scarce. But when he heard about the casual labour program, he breathed a sigh of relief. He took any job he could get, because he knew any experience he could gain would help him build his future. But finding quick work was only the beginning of his journey!

A case worker connected Ron with the Community Bridge program, which provides clients with a one-time loan to prevent eviction, utility disconnection, or foreclosure. Ron was ready to do everything he could to prevent the loss of his housing. He was not afraid to work hard, but just needed guidance on budgeting and finding supportive resources. 

Before long, his debts were paid off, and he was safe and secure in his home—and much better equipped to focus on his career options.

As soon as Ron started accessing Bissell Centre’s Employment Services, he had a host of amazing resources at his fingertips, not just casual labour, but life management workshops and employment counselling, safety courses, resume development, supported job searches, and more.

In the end, he walked away with numerous valuable tickets, such as forklift operation, height safety, WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System) and H2S first aid safety training.

He was feeling equipped, ready, and much more hopeful.

Just as Ron was about to launch into his job search, he was offered a life-changing opportunity that would bring him back towards his original passion—electrical work—but this time, with a new and very timely skill set.

Ron was invited to participate in Bissell Centre’s solar panel installation training program. He flourished in the program and left with a newfound passion for clean and renewable energy. Through this program, he was introduced to NEWO Energy where he was hired full-time.

Life looks entirely different for Ron now. He is living in new housing, he is loving his job, and he gets to spend a lot of time with his family.   

The staff at Bissell Centre really believe in me. They believe in you until you can believe in yourself,” says Ron. “I don’t know where I would be without them. If I could tell them anything it would be ‘thank you’”.  

Now, looking ahead, Ron intends on enrolling in the NAIT electrician program this coming winter to further his career. We wish him all the best. 

A Look Back

An Easter Brimming with Hope

We were thrilled to get back to our regular Easter dinner celebration after two years of working within COVID-19 regulations. Your generous gifts helped us serve hundreds of meals to families and individuals in need here in Edmonton.

Of course, everyone’s plate was laden with ham, turkey, gravy, potatoes, veggies, and homemade dessert, thanks to you!

We also want to thank everyone who returned a placemat to us. Your kind words meant the world to them.

With your help, our guests were surrounded with so much love, support, and joy this Easter. Thank you for your compassion and care!

 

Coldest Night of the Year Event

Wow, we want to say a huge thank you to everyone who supported our 5th annual Coldest Night of the Year event!

In total, 300 walkers from 56 teams took to the streets to raise money and awareness for homelessness in Edmonton. The event was supported by 13 dedicated volunteers.

With the incredible support of the Edmonton community, we raised over $140,000! Once again, our supporters have proven that when we come together to make a difference, magic happens! 

The funds raised will ensure that Edmontonians experiencing homelessness, hardship, and hunger can access opportunities and resources to heal and grow, which are critical to building a better future. 

Thank you to our sponsors, volunteers, walkers, and donors! You made this event such a great success. Your amazing show of support means that even more adults and families will get the support they need to thrive! 

Serving up Warmth and Joy

How Rhea Brightened the Coldest Night of the Year

Rhea Seavers works as a Starbucks manager in the heart of Edmonton. She has served every manner of person, but her work has softened her heart towards people suffering from homelessness.

I feel very fortunate. I have so much: a family, a home, a job. It really could be any one of us out there,” says Rhea. “Given the terrible circumstances people go through, like the loss of a job, a death in the family, or mental health issues, I feel it’s only right to help others, as I would hope others would help me!”

With this in mind, Rhea wanted to take action and make a difference in the community. That’s why she decided to get her store involved in our Coldest Night of the Year 2022 walkathon event. And she didn’t just walk—she brought along some extra warmth and joy that totally brightened the night.

If you were at the event, you likely saw Rhea at the table surrounded by people warming their hands on cups of steaming hot coffee, chatting and enjoying delicious cookies. With Starbucks support, Rhea generously donated fresh coffee and treats, as well as giving her own time to serve the goodies to walkers braving the cold night.  

Folks who came by the rest stops were thrilled for the hot coffee, and chocolate chunk and ginger molasses cookies, each individually wrapped with an inspirational message handwritten on the bag by Rhea.

Rhea, thank you for making us smile, keeping us warm, and giving us an inspirational boost

Join Us!

Upcoming Events 

  • National Indigenous People’s Day, June 21: Join us for a special outdoor celebration alongside our program participants, volunteers, and staff.
  • Drop Your Gonch, July 11 – 16: Come out and donate new underwear to give people who are experiencing homelessness comfort and dignity.