Canada’s largest Black social service delivery agency has received federal funding to assist with renovations of its new home.
The funding to Tropicana Community Services Organization (TCSO) of $613,090 is part of the federal government’s Economic Action Plan 2012.
Pickering/Scarborough-East Member of Parliament, Corneliu Chisu, made the announcement at a press conference last week.
“Our government is committed to creating jobs, growth and long-term prosperity for Canadians through investments in our communities,” said Chisu. “By improving facilities such as this one, we are helping to boost economic activity and maintain a high quality of life for residents of all ages.”
The organization’s executive director, Sharon Shelton, welcomed the funding.
“As we serve over 22,000 annually, the improvement of our facilities will have a tremendous impact on the community,” said Shelton. “We look forward to creating even more dynamic programming and serving an increased number of clients.”
Last February, TCSO completed a deal for the purchase of a new building at 1385 Huntingwood Dr. in Scarborough. The organization used the $600,000 it raised over five years along with $1.36 million from a $2 million major capital grant it received from the province in September 2011 to buy the $2.35 million building that will undergo major renovations expected to cost about $700,000.
The refurbishment will be completed in two phases.
The internal demolition started last Monday and Phase One will begin shortly to complete office space, the reception area and five counselling rooms by the end of April. The staff expects to move into the new facility when the first phase is done.
The second phase will involve the installation of a gymnasium, computer labs, a studio, kitchen and community meeting rooms. This phase is expected to be finished by the end of March, 2014.
Telus Corporation contributed $20,000 towards the purchase of computers for the technological centre. In the past, the telecommunications company has donated backpacks and back-to-school kits to the organization that runs the Children of Tomorrow daycare centre for infants and toddlers and pre-school and school-age programs, provided food baskets for needy families at Christmas and sponsored the “Defy Your Label” after-school program for girls and the Community Service award presented at the TCSO annual awards in June.
The new building has 20,000 square feet at the ground level and an additional 8,000 square feet in mezzanine space.
The TCSO is selling naming rights for its gym, community rooms and other areas of the new facility.
Interested individuals can contact resource development co-ordinator Tka Pinnock at firstname.lastname@example.org or (416) 439-9009 ext. 230.
With an annual budget of nearly $10 million, the TCSO runs almost 30 programs with a full-time staff of about 80 and a large part-time and volunteer network.
Late Jamaican-born community worker Robert Brown founded Tropicana – United Way’s first Black member agency – in 1980 as a non-profit agency to serve disadvantaged youth and their families in East Scarborough.
Through its diverse programs, the agency aims to increase employment opportunities for young people, improve success to culturally appropriate counselling services and reduce the school dropout rate among Black students.