Message from the CEO
The crisp autumn air signifies the end of another season. While the cooler temperatures bring a sense of relief to some, it adds a new stress to those living on the streets. Living in poverty is not easy, but I’m always reassured that through continued support of our donors, people can always find help at Bissell Centre—whatever the season may bring.
It’s been a busy summer! Every year we offer the amazing opportunity for low-income families to enjoy 4-day camping trips at our Moonlight Bay Centre. It gives families a time to bond, enjoy the summer, and escape the stresses of everyday life. Read on further to find out more about our camp program!
With our fall campaign underway, preparations for our annual Thanksgiving dinner are in the works. As people enjoy a hot, nutritious meal, it will provide them with the opportunity to make personal connections with our staff and each other. Your support is helping to cultivate these meaningful relationships—thank you!
I am so grateful to you for your generous gifts which give hope and provide opportunities to those who are struggling. Thank you. You are truly making a difference in someone’s life!
Gary St. Amand
CEO, Bissell Centre
A Story of Hope and Renewal
Every day, Bissell Centre encounters people in need of support, all of whom come from different walks of life with their own unique story to tell. Your gifts help us offer the resources and tools necessary to support people in any way we can, whether it’s providing housing to a family or helping someone find a job. Each individual deserves to feel the hope and get the support they need to move towards a more prosperous life.
When Russell came to us, he had been sleeping under trees, struggling to find work. After spending a decade stuck in a cycle of addiction and poverty, he knew it was time to make a change.
Life had not been easy for Russell. As a child growing up in a family of eight, he recalls getting teased because of his hand-me-downs and for the holes in his clothes. Food was limited as his dad worked to support six children. As a teen, Russell was incredibly talented at baseball—it was something he could have pursued as a career. But his family just didn’t have the money to support his dream.
As an adult, Russell lived and worked in Fort McMurray with his wife. However, times became difficult when his relationship came to an end. He sold his house and moved to Edmonton where he struggled to find work and a place to live. Unable to cope with the past and deal with his current situation, Russell turned to alcohol to numb his pain. For the next 10 years, homelessness became a way of life—struggling with addiction and loneliness. Russell recalls the most difficult part of living on the streets was being so alone: “There was nobody. Just me.”
One day, Russell saw someone in coveralls heading to work and asked them where he could go to find a job. That’s when he first heard about Bissell Centre. He quickly reached out for help. Although overcoming his addiction wasn’t easy, with Bissell’s help, Russell managed to find and maintain steady work as a landscaper. Today, he still works for the same company after nine years of employment.
Our generous donors have directly impacted people like Russell, and for that he is so grateful. “It gives me the opportunity to start growing up like a tree,” he shares. “Look at me, I’m 100% happy!”
Not only did a steady income give Russell the confidence to sustain a livelihood, the housing program helped him to find a home and a family. “I know when I’m coming home, I’m coming home,” shares Russell. He is so grateful to have security and to be leading a dignified life—a life of growth and transformation that he hopes can spread to others who are struggling. “I can get up and put a cup of coffee on and I go up there in the cupboard to get something to eat,” he says. “I don’t have to stand in line-ups.”
As the season of gratitude approaches, Russell looks forward to sharing his gratitude at Bissell Centre’s Thanksgiving dinner. He reminisces about how wonderful it was to be a part of something when he was feeling alone. “Everything looked so perfect—from the cloths on the tables to the flowers in the pots,” he says. “It was so well organized and well done.” It is these meals that are often the first steps towards growth and transformation for those who are struggling.
Like Russell, we are so incredibly grateful for your gifts that have supported so many people throughout the years. Thank you for supporting our life-giving programs that have done so much for our Edmonton community!
The Joy of Summer Camp
Making Lasting Memories at Moonlight Bay Centre
Over the summer, you helped provide many families with a chance to escape the city and enjoy a meaningful camp experience at our Moonlight Bay Centre. Located along Wabamun Lake, our 4-day camp programs gives low-income families and individuals a chance to get away from the difficulties of their daily lives enjoy a peaceful, outdoor setting.
Over the summer we enjoyed watching families like Lorissa, Corey and their three children, grow closer and create a lifetime of memories. They had such an incredible time that they are already preparing for their next visit!
Experiencing the joy of camp is truly what being a kid is all about—it provides children with growth opportunities, life skills and friendships that are invaluable to a fulfilling childhood. It is incredibly moving to see the lasting impact that these experiences can have on children and their families.
Thank you to everyone who gave this summer season. The daily stresses of living in poverty can be overwhelming, especially because so many of these families live in communities with high rates of domestic violence, gang activity and drug use. Your gifts have given hope and opportunity to so many struggling families and individuals. Thank you for helping to create joyful memories that will last a lifetime.
We hope your summer was equally as fulfilling as the experiences you are providing to others!
Everyone deserves to feel loved and cared for. This year, just $3.20 provides someone with a delicious, turkey dinner. These meals are a wonderful opportunity for people who are struggling to cultivate new, supportive relationships with our staff, volunteers, and one another.
We’re expecting to serve hundreds of delicious meals this Thanksgiving, but it’s only possible with your support. We hope that you will consider a special gift this season and provide the first few steps towards healing and growth. Your generosity helps us to provide a place of belonging and crucial support for those who need it most.