West Island Black Community Association celebrates milestone

The West Island Black Community Association celebrated the end of mortgage payments with members, partners and elected officials, last week.

West Island Black Community Association chair Kemba Mitchell, left, cuts a celebratory cake with former chair Veronica Johnson. MONwp

No more mortgage. Three words that are music to the ears of any property owner. And so it was for the executive of the West Island Black Community Association last week. Members, partners and elected officials gathered at WIBCA’s two-storey building in Roxboro last week to celebrate the big news and witness a copy of the mortgage document being torn in two. Then there was cake.

It was a big moment for the association, which has been serving its community for 37 years. Marking the milestone during Black History Month made it all the sweeter.

“And this is just the beginning,” WIBCA chair Kemba Mitchell said. “It’s time to take WIBCA to the next level. We must put ourselves out there and get additional support. We are a volunteer-run organization and always in need of more support.”

WIBCA was established by Margaret Jolly and the late Norma Husbands in 1982. Jolly attended the mortgage announcement on Thursday, as did members of the Husbands family.

The room was filled to capacity with a Who’s Who from the black community, including Caribbean Pioneer Women of Canada founder Thelma Johnson, Pierrefonds-Dollard MP Frank Baylis and former Quebec MNA and current media commentator Yolande James.

Baylis was all smiles. He was one of a handful of influential WIBCA supporters who personally donated toward the paying down of the last $16,000. Dollard-des-Ormeaux councillor Errol Johnson, who is also a financial advisor with Sunlife Financial, brought in donations from Sunlife and dipped into his own pocket. Then Johnson worked the phones and when it was all over, the mortgage didn’t stand a chance.

Johnson is one of the organizers of the annual West Island Blues Festival. A portion of the festival’s proceeds go to WIBCA every year. To date, WIBCA has received around $100,000.

The next challenge for WIBCA is obtaining financing for renovations. Major electrical work has already been done, but the second floor needs to be brought up to code so that it can be used as a youth drop-in centre. Installing a modest library is also in the works.

WIBCA’s volunteer executive members — Mitchell, vice-chair Maria Durant and treasurer Joan Lee — put in untold hours after their full-time jobs and family responsibilities are handled.

One of their priorities is to raise WIBCA’s profile, with the help of social media.

“People need to know who we are,” Mitchell said. “We need to be a household name.”

WIBCA’s books have recently been audited which mean it can apply for a federal grant to help defray renovation costs. Mitchell is also hoping to land a government grant which would pay for the hiring of a part-time executive director.

Currently, WIBCA services include Saturday tutoring sessions and after-school homework help at Riverdale High School, a free legal clinic, an eight-week summer camp, a domino club and a youth mentoring program.

WIBCA’s youth group meets once a month. Time is well spent learning practical skills such as how to prepare a CV, how to do a good job interview, how to cook and what is the best dining room etiquette.

A goal for the executive is to expand on WIBCA’s programming and services.

“We need to have something happening here all the time,” Mitchell said. “We need to maximize the use of the building.”

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Источник: Montrealgazette.com

Источник: Corruptioner.life


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