Tropicana seeks to address the diverse needs of our community by focusing on our strategic pillars of self-sufficiency, collaborative partnerships, and innovative programming. Over this past year, we have witnessed the relevance of those pillars and we have had to re-examine and accelerate our focus as an organization in addressing those priorities.

Both the COVID-19 Pandemic and the tragic death of George Floyd shone a spotlight on the specific needs and systemic challenges faced by the Black community, emphasising the importance of organizations like Tropicana in addressing those needs.

On April 21, 2020, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau highlighted Tropicana when speaking of the critical work being done by organizations and the increased pressure on non-profits caused by COVID-19. This was a recognition of the amazing work being done by our staff, board members and leadership team.

The rapid response required of all non-profit organizations, meant that Tropicana had to pivot rapidly to be able to deliver our services remotely, and alter our services in response to the community need. We can proudly say that we were successful in providing this essential support.

We have continued to monitor changing conditions and the guidance of our health authorities.  Following that guidance, Tropicana’s daycare centres reopened in the summer with limited capacity.  As Fall begins, we are taking a cautious approach with our programs and operating limited capacity.  Our priority is to ensure the health and safety of both staff and clients while providing the support that our community needs.

There has never been more willingness from both the corporate sector and within the government, to apply resources towards addressing the issues faced by Black communities.

So, how do we innovate, grow, and develop?

For Tropicana, it will look like building the resilience of our youth that are experiencing or likely to experience anti-black racism while working with our corporate employer partners to identify and dismantle internal systemic barriers that exacerbate anti-Black racism. It’s enhancing our Harvest Share food security and Ricochet clothing recycling programs, broadening the scope of those services. Replicating our Pre-Apprenticeship program and applying those principles to other industries like the food and hospitality services sector. Expanding our counselling and employment programs, so they can continue to effectively serve our communities. It means having a compelling vision for the future, that provides us with an ability to capture the imagination of our partners, collaborators, and the community.  This is Tropicana – the place where we engage and educate to empower and elevate.

Tropicana Community Services is poised for a transformation that will carry the organization into the next 40 years. I’m honoured to have the opportunity to lead the organization in this journey and invite you to continue walking with us as we create communities in which all individuals have equal access to opportunities and alternatives that lead to success and positive life choices.

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