January 1, 2016 8:33 pm
Updated: January 1, 2016 10:48 pm

Bissell Centre New Year’s Day meal sees new faces during economic downturn

WATCH ABOVE: The Bissell Centre says demand for its services is increasing as Alberta’s economic woes continue. Tom Vernon reports.

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EDMONTON – The Bissell Centre says it is seeing more demand for its services as Albertans deal with a low-performing economy.

On Friday, the centre held its annual New Year’s Day dinner. The event has been held for more than two decades but is now starting to see some new faces.

Joe Hleck used to work in the oil and gas sector until he was laid off one week before Christmas.

“I was here last year helping and volunteering,” he said.

“This year, I’m actually the one that needs the help.”

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Darren Brennan, the communications coordinator for the Bissell Centre, said demand is up this year.

“We have seen new faces coming to the Bissell Centre. That means new relationships as well. We’re glad that we can offer them the help that they’re looking for,” he said.

More than 1,000 meals were served over two hours thanks to the help of volunteers, who prepared the meal and handed out desserts.

“I want to teach my children as well that there are people in this world that don’t have what they have,” said volunteer Trish Saidler-Zurch.
After scarfing down his hot meal, Hleck said he is looking ahead and moving forward for 2016.

“Nothing but optimism,” he said.

“I’m going straight up. I can’t go any further down.”

-with files from Tom Vernon

© 2016 Shaw Media

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