Mission Possible focuses on helping people build sustainable livelihoods, providing them with the skills and confidence to gain employment. We spoke to Brianna Mau to find out more about the support work they do in the Vancouver community.
Describe your charity/non-profit in a few sentences.
Mission Possible addresses barriers to employment by providing supportive, transitional employment for those who are ready to enter or re-enter the workforce. We transform lives by helping people impacted by homelessness and poverty experience a sense of dignity and purpose through meaningful work in our Employment Readiness Program.
What problem does it aim to solve?
There is an untapped human potential that goes undetected amongst those experiencing homelessness and poverty in our cities. Most people see communities like Vancouver’s notorious Downtown Eastside as overly challenged, and while this is true to some extent, many people lack available opportunities. Mission Possible provides training, support and opportunities to help people create a sustainable livelihood that benefits participants and strengthens the entire community.
When did you start/join it?
Mission Possible was founded in 1992 and was initially a needs-based organization serving meals, distributing clothing, and helping people meet their basic needs. However, this shifted just before the 2010 Olympics as the City of Vancouver approached us to lead a graffiti removal team throughout the city. Eager to find new and innovative ways to restore dignity and purpose to those experiencing myriad hardships in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, this contract with the city inspired Mission Possible to launch our first social enterprise, MP Maintenance, in 2009. Since then, we’ve expanded to take on additional cleaning initiatives and started a second social enterprise, MP Neighbours.
I started working with Mission Possible as their Development and Communications Coordinator in August 2020. My main focus is getting the word out about what we do, sharing stories about our associates, and highlighting our impact in the community.
What made you want to get involved?
Mission Possible drew me in because our focus is on helping people build sustainable livelihoods. Throughout the six months that program participants are working, they also gain soft skills through workshops, engaging with others frequently, and one-on-one coaching sessions. The skills and confidence they gain are relevant during their time at MP, but they are also transferable to other jobs and in their personal lives as well! Coaches also support associates as they create resumes, learn how to write cover letters, and conduct job searches so that they can continue working once their six-month contract has ended.
What was the situation like when you started?
When I joined the team, we were in the midst of the COVID 19 pandemic. MP had just restarted intake to the Employment Readiness Program after a four-month pause and were adapting to our growing needs. We had also just moved to a bigger space, so there was a lot of setup involved! We also launched the Women’s Track of this program which creates unique opportunities tailored to women and non-binary people.
Our Power Breakfast, a weekly meal service in the Downtown Eastside, saw a huge increase in demand and our volunteers, community partners and Power Breakfast team worked hard to ensure that 250+ people got a warm meal or sandwich every week.
How has it changed since?
Since then, we’ve settled into the new space, and have continued to welcome people into our program. Exactly a year from when I joined the team, in just one month, we welcomed 17 new associates into the program! We’ve also taken on additional cleaning initiatives with the City of Vancouver such as monitoring and sanitizing their temporary and permanent washroom trailers throughout the city. Our Power Breakfast remains a much-needed and appreciated take-out service, rather than our pre-covid sit-down meal.
What more needs to be done?
Helping people gain a sense of dignity, purpose and belonging never ends. There are always more people to support in their journey into or back to work, and we’re excited that we’re returning to our pre-COVID numbers. Our hope is to have 100 people go through our employment program in the next year, an increase of 35% from last year.
How can our readers help?
Readers can help by donating to support our work readiness program, or by volunteering with us. They can also hire MP Maintenance for commercial cleaning services, or employ a graduate from our work readiness program. Visit our website, www.mission-possible.ca, for information on these options and other ways to help!
Do you have any events coming up?
Our 2021 Mission Possible Gala is on December 1st at Vancouver’s Fairmont Waterfront. This is a key fundraising event featuring our Momentum Awards, celebrating accomplishments of participants, and other great highlights. Our online auction begins the week before on November 24th. More information and a link to purchase tickets can be found on our website. Follow us on social media as well for updates!
Where can we follow you?
PAY IT FORWARD: What is an awesome local charity that you love?
We work with amazing organizations throughout Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and Metro Vancouver, so it’s impossible to pick one! We want to shout out the Binner’s Project, Wholeway House, and Potluck Cafe and Catering Society!