Surge in demand at Vancouver non-profit that helps people in need find work prompts call for donations

·2 min read
Mission Possible provides work experience opportunities through its two social enterprises MP Maintenance (exterior building cleaning) and MP Neighbours (community watch and security).  (Twitter/MPEastVan - image credit)
Mission Possible provides work experience opportunities through its two social enterprises MP Maintenance (exterior building cleaning) and MP Neighbours (community watch and security). (Twitter/MPEastVan - image credit)

A Vancouver non-profit that helps people in need is in need of a little help itself.

For nearly three decades, Mission Possible has helped people challenged by poverty and homelessness join the workforce by providing training and job opportunities through its Employment Readiness Program.

The program provides one-on-one employment training and coaching, as well as paid experience working for the organization's two social enterprises. These include an exterior property cleaning business called MP Maintenance and a security company and community outreach service called MP Neighbours.

Participants are primarily residents of the city's Downtown Eastside — some live in shelters and some have no fixed address.


Mission Possible staff say there is such high demand right now for entrance into the program, and for the services provided by those social enterprise companies, that the organization is appealing to the public for financial help.

The biggest need at the moment is for a new vehicle in order to transport workers to up to 40 job sites a day.

"We take people from the Downtown Eastside all over the Lower Mainland to provide property maintenance services," said Mission Possible executive director Matthew Smedley.

"You might see our teams around the City of Vancouver picking up litter on the sidewalks and in the alleys, and to be able to transport people around, we need good, dependable vehicles."

WATCH | Why new wheels for Mission Possible means new opportunities for people in need:


Half of the estimated $25,000 price tag to purchase a van is already covered by a grant. Smedley is now hoping public donations will cover the rest.

"We're reaching out to folks to chip in a little bit and help contribute to these vehicles, which really lead to, you know, changed lives for people when they can move into a job," said Smedley, speaking Tuesday on CBC's The Early Edition.

"Even during the pandemic, it's been amazing to watch people move into permanent work outside of Mission Possible," he added.

Smedley said 65 people started working with Mission Possible over the course of the pandemic and a quarter of those have already secured permanent work outside of the program.

This year, the organization is hoping to help 100 people with the goal of getting at least half permanent employment.


"A lot of times it's a rough first start," said Smedley, noting people often enter the program with low self-confidence and uncertainty.

"A lot of what we hear is just the trauma, the challenges, you know, really difficult experiences that they have been through, but a real sense of determination and tenacity to to want to move forward. And so, providing this opportunity allows that to happen."

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