The Jamaican Canadian Association (JCA) is set to change the way it does business.
A proposal is on the table for the hybrid organization, which has been a leading advocate for Jamaicans and other disadvantaged groups in the Greater Toronto Area for the past five decades, to split its social services, membership and fundraising activities into separate entities.
Membership, which is about 1,500, is expected to unanimously endorse the changes at a special meeting this evening at the JCA.
“In 2008, we had an organizational review and we had the opportunity to look at various governance models and make some adjustments,” said JCA president, Audrey Campbell. “Three years later, a working group comprising myself, two members of the current JCA board of directors, five past presidents, a past vice president and a social services staff member was formed. We had several meetings among ourselves and with the board and we sought input and feedback from the membership and community at several consultation meetings which were an important part of the process as the input was invaluable.”
The working group’s interim report was presented to JCA members last month and the full report and recommendations will be presented to the membership tonight.
If approved, the critical social services delivery through full and part-time professional staff will be governed by a separate seven-member board that will set policy and provide leadership that will enable it to blossom and grow by fully serving the designated communities within its mandate.
The JCA membership services will assume a separate identity with a seven-member board of directors and a JCA Heritage Foundation with a five-member board will be set up.
“This is a separate not-for-profit corporation whose main function is to source, arrange, promote and administer a fundraising strategy and activities on a continuing basis and then disburse funds to designated charitable purposes within the social services agency and membership organization,” said Campbell. “If these changes are approved, the implementation process will begin and evolve over the next 12 to 18 months.
“There is much work yet to be done, but we are excited that the new family of JCA-related entities will emerge in the very near future. More importantly, the future of the JCA will be secure for the next generation to follow.”
JCA executive secretary, Adaoma Patterson, chaired the working group. She’s part of the strategic planning team in Peel’s human services department, responsible for leading the implementation of a three-year Peel Poverty Reduction Strategy.
“What we have in front of us is a structure to reflect the changes in the community and how organizations operate, particularly social services,” said Patterson. “It will also allow us to address some of the concerns that we have been hearing about retaining membership and making the organization more open to younger members who want to join. The three organizations will reflect the JCA brand, but each of them will focus on particular areas.”
The JCA receives nearly $2 million in annual funding, the majority of about $850,000 from the provincial government. The organization, which owns its centre, recently restructured its mortgage to facilitate urgent repairs to the driveway, roof and flooring.
“Those capital expenses had to be put on to our mortgage,” Campbell said. “There is about $200,000 outstanding which we hope to clear in the next four years.”
The new centre was officially opened in August 1999.