A Message from the CEO
I want to thank those of you who gave this summer to support people facing homelessness and poverty. Your generosity truly has an incredible impact in our community.
Before long, freezing temperatures will pose a considerable threat to people who don’t have the luxury of a roof over their heads. Let’s work together, so everyone in our city makes it through the winter safely.
At Bissell Centre, we’re beginning to prepare for our festive celebrations. Donors like you are essential to making this feast a success!
Thank you for your outstanding support.
Gary St. Amand
CEO, Bissell Centre
Finding Courage For New Beginnings
My name is Fred, and Bissell Centre was a godsend for me.
For many years, I was a welder. When I lost my job, I was completely blindsided. For months, I searched for a new position in my field, but there simply wasn’t work to be found. If you’ve ever lost your job, you know how devastating that experience can be. It’s hard not to take it personally.
I suspect many of you have an inkling of what I went through, spending endless hours applying for jobs, only to be turned away, or worse, not to receive any kind of response at all.
To top everything off, my marriage was on the fritz. I felt like I couldn’t do anything right, no matter how hard I tried. Being part of a dying marriage was incredibly lonely.
I’d hit rock bottom once again. I found myself deeply depressed. I couldn’t stay in that house any longer. I needed space, so I left.
Leaving was important, but I had nowhere to go.
Becoming homeless was overwhelming and very confusing. Was I going to sleep on a park bench tonight? Would I be mugged while I slept? What’s my next step? Thankfully, I was in contact with Alberta Jobs Corps, and they referred me to Bissell Centre for help.
When I walked through Bissell Centre’s doors, I was more than a little uncertain. I didn’t know who to talk to or where to go, and I think the staff noticed that because they approached me, asked my name, and introduced themselves.
I told them a little bit about my situation, and they said, “Well Fred, you’ve come to the right place. Bissell Centre can help.”
That was about a year ago. At Bissell Centre, I’ve found the support of a family. I found people who really care. They gave me food, clothing and helped me find temporary shelter, so I wouldn’t be on the street. Before long, they helped me find affordable housing, too.
Today, I’m a regular participant at the Community Kitchen. It’s almost always a social event. We share our life stories, where we’re going and where we’ve been.
I’ve also attended several of Bissell Centre’s holiday meals. Sometimes, when I was lonely, I came to share dinner with people who treated me well. Every time I did, I felt like I was part of a family. That’s why I looking forward to the holiday dinners here.
I’ve come a long way since showing up at Bissell Centre’s door. I’m now a volunteer with Bissell, so I can pay back all the good things they’ve done for me. I recently was awarded full custody of my son, and that’s been the best development of all.
Cooking Up Some Culinary Skills
A Recipe For Community
It’s been nearly a year since Bissell Centre opened its Community Kitchen. Since then, nearly 225 participants have come in to improve their culinary skills, try new foods, share their favourite recipes, and to enjoy socializing as they cook together.
Bissell Center’s Jennifer McDonald-Robinson is at the helm of the kitchen programming. She’s incredibly pleased with how the Community Kitchen is having a positive effect in the lives of the participants who are involved.
“With most of the food for the Community Kitchen coming from the food bank, it gives participants an opportunity to learn what they can create from the food bank items,” explains Jennifer. “Just because they’re experiencing homelessness doesn’t mean they don’t like good food.”
Learning how to transform ingredients from the food bank into something delicious, provides participants with a confidence boost. It’s incredibly empowering to share new-found recipes and interests with others.
For many of the people accessing Bissell Center’s Community Kitchen, social isolation is common. Jennifer has seen first-hand how the Community Kitchen brings people together and creates a sense of connection and community.
Thank you for giving to make the Community Kitchen possible!
What You’ve Made Possible!
Snapshots From Bissell Centre
Thanks to you, our community has access to education, activities, and events that heal the spirit and strengthen well-being. From forging friendships to celebrating creativity, your gifts allow participants to rediscover joy!