By Gerald V. Paul
“We are thrilled with our new home,” Tropicana’s Executive Director Sharon Shelton said as the organization celebrated the grand opening of the expanded $6 million facility.
“In the past one would have to travel quite a distance in order to take advantage of our various programs and services. With the new building and expanded space, we are able to better serve clients by offering elements of most of our programs under one roof.”
Last Friday, Shelton gloried in the newly renovated 28,000 square foot Tropicana Community Services Centre of Excellence. Tropicana, serving an average of 20,000 clients a year in the community for more than 30 years, is now nestled at 1385 Huntingwood Dr. in Scarborough.
Shelton praised the work of former Ontario minister Margaret Best who was instrumental in securing the province’s share of the funding for the expansion.
Shelton noted their mission is achieved through culturally appropriate programs such as counseling, educational and employment services and youth development.
Tracy MacCharles, minster of children and youth services, praised the employment initiatives of Tropicana, noting it serves a diverse community.
The multi-service organization’s theme is “Working together to help each other.” It provides youth, newcomers, people of Black and Caribbean heritage and others in need with opportunities and alternatives that lead to success and positive life choices. The number of amenities now includes a computer lab, classrooms, counseling rooms and a teaching kitchen.
The grand opening also included the launch of the Tropicana IGNITE Games by Mitzie Hunter, associate finance minister for the proposed Ontario pension plan. In a nod to the Pan /Para Pan Am Games, the centre hosted a community games event the next day, with free food, prizes, children’s flag parade and a meet and greet with Olympic athletes.
Hunter noted the Pan Am Games are the world’s third-largest international multi-sport games. The 2015 games will bring more than 11,000 athletes and officials from 41 countries and territories in Latin America, South America, the Caribbean and North America to Toronto and 15 other municipalities throughout southern Ontario, along with an estimated 250,000 visitors.
IGNITE is a new community partnership program that enables individuals, organizations and communities to create their own special games to increase awareness of existing projects through an association with the Toronto 2015 Pan Am / Parapan Am Games – the “People’s Games.”