Mission Possible first considered getting involved with cleaning and maintenance as a result of community concerns over the litter around our Powell Street location after the meals that we were serving to the community. While mitigating this and ensuring a more environmentally friendly approach, we caught the attention of the City of Vancouver who was approaching us to do graffiti removal prior to the 2010 Olympics. Eager to find new and innovative ways to restore dignity and purpose to those experiencing a myriad of hardships in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, this contract with the city inspired Mission Possible to launch our first social enterprise, MP Maintenance, in 2009.
Having the City of Vancouver as our first customer, MP Maintenance was able to gain experience, invest in equipment and begin to develop credibility. As word spread, the requests for other services grew, and we were able to broaden our scope to include litter pick up, awning cleaning, and more. In 2012, we saw a need for community-based care and security which led us to start a second social enterprise, MP Neighbours.
MP Neighbours started with the goal of community-based neighbourhood patrols and evolved into a security-based training program. As the MP Neighbours team was made up of people from the community, residents felt more comfortable talking to them. This allowed the team to check in on people, and provide referrals to supports available to them. In addition, while they were patrolling, the team noted graffiti and garbage pile ups which they could report back to MP Maintenance and helped pick up needles to make the community safer as well. Having MP Neighbours helps build a healthier, more trusting community, which has ultimately been an overall goal for Mission Possible.
Social enterprises help people achieve a renewed sense of dignity and purpose because they provide the opportunity of a real job. The program participants do the work, and they reap the benefits as a result. It changed the way that Mission Possible, as a non-profit, operates and measures success. It helped us increase opportunities of meaningful work throughout our community, and also demonstrates to our donors, customers and potential employers and staff that MP does have a tangible impact on the community.
By providing training, support and flexible opportunities through our social enterprises to help people create a sustainable livelihood, Mission Possible provides the context for self-learning and confidence building, which is a bridge to stability. To learn more about Mission Possible as a non-profit organization, please visit mission-possible.ca.
In 2011, MP Maintenance was awarded as the Best Emerging Social Enterprise in Canada, by the Trico Foundation.