Tropicana Community Services: Fueling a Better Future

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Photo © Courtesy of Tropicana Community Services

Complex and multidimensional, poverty affects every aspect of a person’s life, from what they eat during the day to where they lay their head at night. However, poverty need not be permanent—when given the support and the resources to change their lives, people facing poverty have the power to build a more secure future for themselves and their families. Help begets help, and receiving support during times of need provides the stepping stones to create lasting change and even pay it forward to others.

Tropicana Community Services, founded in 1980 as a non-profit community organization, is on a mission to serve disadvantaged youth and their families, particularly those from the Caribbean. Since its inception, the organization has grown into a multi-service delivery agency with programs designed to address issues affecting all youth, newcomers, members of the Caribbean and Black communities and others in need.

Tropicana offers culturally aware and supportive programs to those in need, with a predominant focus on the Caribbean, Black and African communities.

Over the past 40 years, additional programs and services have been added to the organization, both through internal development and external partnerships. Current programs include but are not limited to counselling, settlement services, tutoring, and youth leadership programs. Over the last year, over 1,200 individuals used Tropicana’s counselling services, including 439 who participated in the 124 educational workshops. On top of that, 4,274 clients were served by the Tropicana Employment Centre.

Between the range of accessible and supportive services at the centre, as well as the fun stuff including camps, recreation, social services, March break and summer camps and youth drop-in activities, Tropicana is building a hub that truly listens to and delivers upon the needs of the community it works to support.

Raymund Guiste, Executive Director at Tropicana works tirelessly alongside his team of staff and volunteers, but it’s the people whose lives Tropicana have touched make his work meaningful. As an experienced mediator and adjudicator in the Human Rights and consumer protection space, he joined Tropicana after a 25-year career in the Ontario Public Service and earning his Master of Laws from Osgoode Hall.

With that social justice background and a drive to make positive change in his community and beyond, Guiste has co-designed, launched, and helped drive programs including a new RBC-backed program to deal with Black racism and the Supporting Black Canadian Communities Initiative (SBCCI) fund, created by the Federal government through Employment and Social Development Canada to help increase the capacity of grassroots not-for-profit organizations serving Black communities in Canada.

He has had the privilege of seeing the organization’s work touch youth and children through daycare and educational programs, helping them build their futures.

“With all these initiatives and programs, I truly see Tropicana as a multi-service agency that will bring all of those programs together in a coherent way,” Guiste shared. “As a member of the Intermediary Network for the Government of Canada’s, SBCCI, Tropicana Community Services has helped to allocate and award over $1.3 million in funding to 37 grassroots organizations serving the Black community.”

While Tropicana has achieved much, Guiste still sees that there is more work to be done. “We’re never overstaffed with volunteers. Or donors. There is so much to be done and we welcome everyone from the community to help us.”

Your support can be a stepping stone for lasting change in your community. Learn more, volunteer, and donate at tropicanacommunity.org.

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At Tropicana we offer culturally aware and supportive programs to those in need, including but not limited to counselling, settlement services, childcare, education, personal development, and employment services, with a predominant focus on the Caribbean, Black and African communities of Toronto.

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