Help fight homelessness at Bissellebration

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St. Albert isn’t immune to the multifaceted problem of homelessness. Just ask local resident Peggy Hodge, the long-standing director of adult services and chief programs officer at Edmonton’s Bissell Centre. The social justice organization works hard to get people clean and off of the streets for good.

She says it all starts with hope. If you’ve got hope, you’ve got a pathway.

“I see lots of challenging things but also lots of rewarding things,” she says, elaborating on one of the newest programs she oversees.

Homeless to Homes is based on a housing-first strategy. The provincially funded program puts a priority on getting people in their own homes to provide stability before they start working on their other problems.

“It used to be the mindset before that you’d wait until people dealt with their addictions before you house them but it’s the other way around. You have to house them first and then you deal with the addictions, mental health issues and all the other issues or barriers that they’ve had to finding housing.”

In its first year the program has helped place 77 people in their own residences by assisting with damage deposits and follow-up to make sure clients get consistent guidance and observation.

The Bissell has other programs including employment services, inner city victims’ services, and child and family resources. It focuses on improving the quality of life and meeting the basic daily needs of those who have the least access to resources. It also strives to give children living in poverty a fighting chance for positive changes in their lives.

Hodge hopes that people will consider supporting the Bissell Centre either through direct donations or by volunteering. If they’re looking for a great night out to support a worthy cause then she has a party that they can go to that should fit the bill.

The Bissellebration gala dinner and auction will be held at The Sutton Place Hotel located at 10235 – 101 St. in downtown Edmonton. It takes place on Saturday, May 14 starting at 6 p.m. with Eileen Bell as emcee. 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic men’s skeleton gold medallist Jon Montgomery will be the celebrity auctioneer and 2008 Canadian Idol contender Martin Kerr will entertain.

Tickets are $125 each and can be purchased online at www.eplyevents.com/bissellebration2011 before next Wednesday.

Bissell Centre’s annual Bissellebration is an evening filled with exciting entertainment, delicious food and drinks and unique live and silent auction items.

For additional information about the organization or the event, please contact the Bissell Centre at 780-423-2285.

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About Author

Scott Hayes

Scott Hayes joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2008. Scott writes about the arts, entertainment, movies, culture, community groups, and charities. He also writes general news, features, columns and profiles on people.