A Message from our CEO
As we look forward to the fall season–to the crunch of crisp leaves on the sidewalks and the joy that simple change brings–we’re also anticipating the hardships that the colder weather brings with it, especially for people who are experiencing homelessness.
We’re so grateful for everything that donors like you gave out of the goodness of your heart this summer. You truly make a difference when you take action, and I hope that you’ve experienced the deep satisfaction that goes hand-in-hand with giving.
This summer, we saw a lot of growth at Bissell Centre. We welcomed new people to our Drop-in, our Thrift Shoppe and our Housing Services, as well as other programs. And, we hosted more than two dozen low-income families at Moonlight Bay Centre. None of these life-changing programs would be possible without you!
Now, as we anticipate Thanksgiving, we’re confident that we’ll continue to receive the support we need in order to help our community thrive.
Gary St Amand
CEO, Bissell Centre
Of Giving Back
Roger arrived in Edmonton 17 years ago, when he was 49 years old. A few years before he moved, he was hurt in a firefighting accident and spent a year in a body cast. After that, he couldn’t go back to firefighting, and started working for a soft drink company instead.
He worked there for nine years, while living in Edmonton. When he retired, he found that he could no longer make ends meet and quickly became homeless. That’s when he found out about Bissell Centre, and came for his first visit–about seven years ago.
Our staff could see right away that he had a kind heart, as he opened up about his story over coffee and a snack in our Drop-in Centre. We were pleased when he returned the next day, and overjoyed when he came back multiple times over the next week!
For the next five years, Roger lived on the streets of Edmonton’s inner city. He made a shelter out of a tarp, down in the river valley. Whenever he could, he’d come visit us at Bissell Centre.
“I made a promise to a friend before she passed away. She asked me to help people if I could. I told her I would and I’ve done it up to to this day.” –Roger
Even though his past has been difficult, the Roger that we’ve come to know and love is a man full of compassion and generosity. A few years ago, he lost his sister, a niece and a granddaughter to an impaired driver. But instead of letting bitterness overcome him, he puts his energy into loving the family he does have–as well as his family here at Bissell Centre.
Not long after he started visiting Bissell Centre regularly, Roger also started volunteering with us. He was eager to start giving back. And since he already loved spending time with our community–building trust and friendships with everyone he met–he was the perfect fit.
Two years ago, after five years of trying to find a housing situation that was within his means, Roger found a new home with the ongoing help and support of Bissell Centre’s Housing Services. We’ve been so encouraged by his steady growth, and we’re thrilled that, at 66, Roger has a place to call home–both at his apartment and here at Bissell.
When we asked Roger why he’s so passionate about giving back, he said, “I made a promise to a friend before she passed away. She asked me to help people if I could. I told her I would and I’ve done it up to this day.” Getting housed was another part of this commitment–showing by example that it is possible for anyone coming in off the streets to get housed.
Roger has truly become a part of our family here, and we’re as delighted as he is, by the relationships he’s built. “I’m either Dad, Uncle, or Grandpa around here,” he says proudly, describing his role to the other community members at Bissell Centre.
As Roger continues to volunteer with us, he’s continually a beacon of friendliness, hope and understanding for everyone he comes in contact with, and we’re so grateful for his faithful willingness to help.
At Bissell Centre, we’re continually meeting new people who struggle in different ways, but who all desire to be a part of community and give back in all kinds of unique ways. We’re so thankful for each one of our guests, and for the opportunity to help. Each day, we rely on the support of our donors to continue meeting the needs of our community.