It’s the time of year when we feel overwhelmed with the holiday season. At the same time, it may feel that everywhere we turn, we are being asked for a donation to a local Edmonton charity. How do we choose which one to support?
It’s funny how timing works. I was asked earlier this week to take a tour of the Bissell Centre by a friend. Then I came across Nadine Riopel’s blog post, “How to change the world on your own terms“. After reading her post, I knew which angle to take for my own blog post on the Bissell Centre. I truly believe that before anyone hands any money over to an organization, they should either take a tour to see what the impact is or volunteer.
I drove by the Bissell Centre many times but never actually knew what this organization did. I always thought it was very similar to the Mustard Seed or Hope Mission. But Bissell’s Joshua Marshall, manager of resource development, changed my outlook on my tour.
Here are some statistics that I learned:
- 123,000 Edmontonians live in poverty and 7.5 per cent of this population use Bissell’s services.
- Bissell has 10,000 open files on clients.
- The organization offers 20 different programs and services.
- 70 per cent of its clients are aboriginal.
- Bissell does 50 and 70 job placements a day or between 14,000 and 15,000 job placements a year.
- Those in the job placement program are paid $11 an hour.
- Bissell’s accredited daycare provides services to over 800 kids per year from 600 families.
- Bissell serves 1,600 cups of coffee a day to its clients.
On my tour, I had the chance to see these statistics in action – from smiling kids playing in the daycare to those needing a warm place to stay and a friendly face to help them get through another rough day.
“We are always trying to build a community,” said Marshall. “You build rapport in a community centre that you can’t do elsewhere. We know our folks don’t fit most boxes otherwise they wouldn’t be here. Our drop in is like the living room of the inner city.”
There’s much more to Bissell than its drop in centre and daycare. I feel I wouldn’t do the organization justice by attempting to describe how it impacts inner city residents with all of its programs and services. That’s why I want to encourage you to engage with Bissell and find out for yourself what this organization does. Take the tour and listen to Marshall’s wealth of knowledge. Then you’ll know how to change the world on your own terms as Nadine Riopel puts it.