2005 Archived Articles
December 30, 2005 | Youth urged to eschew drugs & violence
By Lincoln Depradine
About 50 East Toronto youth, who attended a Christmas party organized by Tropicana Community Services, heard a ringing message from someone with a past involvement in drugs and violence to steer away from his mistakes.
Gyasi Ferdinand was a successful crack dealer in Regent Park but eschewed the practice after being shot and almost losing his life.
The incident provoked a complete transformation of Gyasi's life. The 31-year-old is now a volunteer pastor at Church of Jesus Christ and the Apostles. He also uses his time to speak to youth about avoiding drugs and violence.
"There is more to life than the ‘bling bling", Ferdinand told the youth at the Tropicana event. "The Black man is an endangered species because you look at it and they're killing each other over nothing. When I look at it, it's sad and it grieves my heart.'' The party was put together within a week after Tropicana, through the United Way of Greater Toronto, received a cash donation from an anonymous donor. It included youth as well as more than 50 kids from Tropicana's two daycare centres. The program included the distribution of toys, gift bags, gift certificates, as well as music and dance.
"What a wonderful Christmas party you had,'' said parent Jeanne Balman. "I had no idea that Tropicana was so huge. After 25 years of being in business, I guess friends and family just get bigger and bigger.''
The party culminated a very successful 2005 Food and Toy Drive for Tropicana. "We had many of our traditional donors coming back to donate food, toys and cash, as well as some new donors,'' said Food Drive Coordinator Olive McKenzie, who is also a supervisor at one of two Tropicana daycare centres.
"What was amazing also was the number of individuals and corporations that sponsored families. We appreciate their support of, and confidence in, Tropicana Community Services.''
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November 4, 2005 | Award for Tropicana
By Lincoln Depradine
Tropicana Community Services is the proud recipient of a major award from the Scarborough Chamber of Commerce (SCC).
Sharon Shelton, Executive Director of Tropicana Community Services, says she is delighted with the Business of the Year award that her organization has received from the SCC.
The Chamber, at an awards' ceremony held November 3, presented Tropicana with the 2005 Business Excellence Award as the Business of the Year. Tropicana was joint winner in the community service category with Variety Village.
Like the rest of the staff of Tropicana and members of the Board of Directors, Shelton was ecstatic on receiving the award.
"We know our work is making a difference to the people we assist,'' the Executive Director said. "The Chamber award tells us that our work is recognized and appreciated.''
Shelton added that it was "even more gratifying to receive the award at this juncture, when we are celebrating our 25th anniversary. We thank the Chamber members and Honda, which sponsored this award.''
The SCC, which recently integrated with the Toronto Board of Trade, presented awards in five other categories in the Bank of Montreal-sponsored event held at Delta Toronto East Hotel.
Tropicana was founded in 1980 by the late Jamaican-born community worker Robert Brown. Its services include counselling, tutoring and various youth development programs.
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April 21, 2005 | Camp Tropicana 2005
Camp Tropicana will be held at Centennial College, Progress campus from July 4 – August 12, 2005. This marks the continuation of a significant partnership with an institution which is a major contributor to our Christmas Food Drive.
Preschool (3 – 5) and Junior Adventurers (6 – 11)
Children from 3 years to 11 years will have six weeks of summer fun that includes sports and recreation, dance, drumming, arts & craft, cooking/baking, and weekly trips. A special focus this year is Move to the Heartbeat – The Rhythm of Life, a Tropicana program designed to promote physical activity, healthy eating and the development of self-esteem. This program will incorporate dance and movement, walking and hiking, yoga, sports and recreation, nutrition and cooking.
Leadership (12 – 16) *** NEW ***
This year, the Leadership campers will participate in a Rites of Passage project. Rites of Passage mark our transition from one stage of life to another and celebrate important times in our lives. Rites of Passage programs help youth direct their energies toward positive goals for their lives. The young initiates move forward to their next level of maturity and life-skill competencies through the passing on of knowledge and tradition. Participants will engage in the cultural practices of their rich traditions and history, ably mentored by community members. It is highly recommended for our youth of African ancestry because it gives purpose or relevance to their existence within the context of culture. Some examples of rituals and traditions are Baby Blessing and Naming, Coming of Age, Marriage, Divorce and Funerals.
This program model introduces young people to a value system through the practice of Nguzu Saba or Seven Principles. It helps young people develop a positive sense of self, promotes responsibility to the community and teaches positive life skills.
It is important that parents encourage and support their children, participate in some of the activities and attend the graduation ceremony at the end of the program.
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March 18, 2005 | Charity Ball to raise funds for scholarship and women's program
When friends and supporters of Tropicana Community Services gather May 14 at a Toronto hotel, the occasion will be more than the popular spring event on the organization's outreach calendar.
Tropicana's annual Caribbean Night Charity Ball, scheduled for May 14 at Delta Toronto East Hotel, is special this year for two reasons: First, it kicks off a major fundraising drive by the organization to commemorate its 25th anniversary. Second, the proceeds from the Ball will be allocated to a scholarship in honour of the founding-president of Tropicana, Robert Brown, and to the Violence Against Women and other programs of the organization's Counselling Department.
Brown, who immigrated to Canada from Jamaica in 1978, was part of a group of University of Toronto students who conducted a needs assessment survey in the then Borough of Scarborough. The study identified the need for social service programs to assist Scarborough young people, especially immigrant youth and kids who had left school.
Brown decided that the best way to serve the youth would be to establish an organization in the community. With help from various individuals and businesses, as well as politicians such as former Metro Chairman Paul Godfrey, Brown was able to formally launch Tropicana on March 26, 1980. Brown served as the organization's president and its first executive director.
Tropicana, a registered non-profit organization, now provides a wide range of social service programs from five locations in east Toronto . It also offers a scholarship in social service in the name of Brown, who died in a Toronto hospital last September. He was 69.
"Robert Brown is the definite patriarch of Tropicana and the work he did will have far-reaching benefits in the community for a long time to come,'' said Sharon Shelton, the current executive director.
Shelton and her staff also are looking to the Ball, expected to attract 500 people, to raise money to support the women and children who access Tropicana's counselling programs, frequently praised by various government officials, professionals and beneficiaries for their effectiveness.
In a recent letter to Tropicana, a social worker at the Children's Aid Society of Toronto wrote:
"I have found that many of the workers at Tropicana have surpassed my expectations when working with my clients. I have been referring clients to Tropicana for the past four years and have only seen positive results.
"I will continue to refer my clients to Tropicana with the knowledge that they will be provided with the best service available to them.''
A more recent letter from the sister of a Tropicana client states:
"Since Sandra met with you, she has regained so much self-confidence to be able to move on. I have not yet seen her drop with stress as she used to. Thanks for being skilful in handling her case.''
The Charity Ball will include dinner, dance, cultural performances, a silent auction, and a door prize of two airline tickets to the Caribbean . Tickets are $125 each. For more information, call 416-439-9009 or e-mail: email@example.com
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