Vancouver-based Mission Possible offers a new, hopeful outlook for the city’s most vulnerable. Now, they need your help.
Chris Middleton is no stranger to hardship. Coming from a home challenged by substance use and transitioning into foster care, he lacked stability throughout his early years. His journey through substance abuse, crime, and a disability was a challenging, non-linear path that eventually led him to Mission Possible, where he gained a renewed sense of purpose and received the support he needed to create a new, healthy path.
Mission Possible runs an Employment Readiness Program for people who face barriers to employment. Participants are typically Downtown Eastside residents affected by poverty, mental illness, or substance use, and who have experienced homelessness and/or other significant challenges.
The Employment Readiness Program begins with a three-day Employment Readiness Workshop where participants learn about a variety of soft skills to prepare them for a return to the workforce. Attendees who are interested and suitable for the program complete a job interview to officially enter the program and to work at one of Mission Possible’s two social enterprises—MP Maintenance, a full-service exterior property maintenance company, or MP Neighbours, a community watch service.
“Successful applicants are offered a six-month paid transitional work experience, which includes on-the-job training in a supportive work environment,” says Chief Empowerment Officer, Matthew Smedley. “Every employee receives regular coaching from a certified coach to help them work through their barriers, set goals, and make plans for their next step on their journey to a sustainable livelihood.”
Over the years, nearly 500 individuals have graduated from the program through which they found a new lease on life. Now, Mission Possible has a new objective: expanding its supporter base, which includes donors and employment partners for the program graduates.
Residents of the Lower Mainland interested in making a difference in the lives of people living in poverty, or who wish to support those who live in the Downtown Eastside, can become donors or—even better—employment partners for the program’s graduates.
“We would like to engage more businesses and individuals,” says Smedley. “We would love to work with anyone who would consider supporting us or learning more about us and those we serve.”
It costs Mission Possible roughly $500 per month to provide training, uniforms, safety and working gear, bi-weekly coaching, and paycheques for each of the program’s participants.
For $6,000 a year, you can support two individuals by becoming an Impact Sponsor. You will receive quarterly reports on their progress, tracking goals, and capacity building over their six-month term.
“Partnering with Mission Possible opens new doors for those challenged by poverty,” reflects Smedley. “Together with our partners, we can foster a more vibrant and inclusive economy in our community.”
Through Chris’ story, Mission Possible was able to bear witness to how work can contribute to one’s self-confidence and sense of self-worth.
“Chris’ determination and tenacity serves as an inspiration to those who have the privilege of knowing him,” Smedley adds. “He is a living example of using grit and courage to overcome great adversity.”
Today, Chris is working with Atira, a low barrier housing provider in the Downtown Eastside. As frontline staff, Chris is the first contact for many people who are struggling with poverty, homelessness, and substance use.
“I’m an asset,” he says. “I didn’t think for a long time that I was an asset. I think that’s the most rewarding thing I got from Mission Possible. They taught me how to understand that I am worthy.”
To become an Impact Sponsor, contact Mission Possible at email@example.com.