Past, Present, and Future
It was difficult to accept the decision to leave our College Street home for our current location of 4 Credit Union Drive. It almost split the Latvian community in disagreement. But the decision was made, and the Latvian centre was purchased in 1979. Our community came together in support, and our volunteer community was strong in accommodating the change.
In a 1984 Multicultural History Society of Ontario article, written by Valdis Liepins, he writes, ”Catering (at the Latvian centre) is directed by the catering manager, aided by a very active and gourmet minded women’s committee, which has established an enviable reputation for high-class, yet affordable, catering. Being a charity, the centre is run by a board of directors who receive no remuneration. In addition to the women’s committee, there are three special function committees-an arts committee, a library committee and a building committee. As a result of their energies the centre functions smoothly and efficiently and is entirely self-supporting.”
Today, in 2020, the LCCC continues to be a strong cultural centre, housing the Northern Birches Credit Union, Toronto Latvian Pensioners’ Association, The Letts Shop, Saturday school (TLBS), Latvian Scouts & Guides, Latvian art/craft groups, DV Toronto, DV Canada, LNAK, Latvija Amerika, Latvian Fraternities, Latvian dance group rehearsals, Latvian choir rehearsals, as well as hosting major cultural events such as the 18. novembris celebrations; but our community has changed in major ways, which is affecting centrs very seriously.
Volunteerism is not as strong as it once was. The LCCC has become dependent on paid staff to fulfill many of the past volunteer positions. At the same time, donations to cover the costs of staff participation, is not occurring at the same rate. Centrs is having to battle increasing minimum wage requirements, as well as food costs.
The generation, who have contributed countless volunteer hours to centrs in the past, have understood the need to contribute financially to cover their inability to volunteer. Unfortunately, and realistically, they are an aging community who cannot sustain centrs today and into the future.
The younger generation who, busy with their careers, children’s activities, etc., might not realize that bringing their children to Latvian school on Saturday, or dancing in a dance group, although, it is contributing to our culture, is not contributing to the Latvian centrs. It is not sustaining the financial nor the volunteer needs of the LCCC.
Over the years of the LCCC, our Latvian community members’ have decreased renting rooms at the LCCC, have decreased volunteering, have decreased financial support, and today, combined with at least another year of LRT construction on Eglinton Avenue, (and the damage it has caused to our basement), our donation reserve has been rapidly depleting, and has brought centrs to a very critical financial juncture.
Where most privately owned centers require their members to donate regularly to assist with covering costs in operating the building, centrs has relied on their donation reserves to cover these costs. The reality is that we can no longer do this.
Without an immediate outpouring of financial assistance from our community, we will be closing the LCCC within a few short years, having depleted the resources we have left. This is the reality of a cultural centre that cannot be sustained by cultural participation alone.
Our board of directors have been working on ways to sustain the LCCC, to avoid having to discuss with our dedicated members at the next AGM, the possibility of having to close centrs in the years to come. Our financial committee has devised a plan that would sustain centrs through this critical financial time, as our new general manager with the board’s assistance, is looking into ways to cut costs. We recognize that one time large sums of money might not be realistic for young families and those on a fixed income. And for this reason, we are giving everyone the ability to help monthly, over several years or more. Consider it a monthly ‘investment’ donation, in sustaining centrs now, and for our future generations.
We require monthly donations of $20 or more for a period of at least 1-2 years. (Of course, we always welcome large one time donations). The more individuals who participate in this monthly giving plan, the more monthly support centrs will receive. If, for example, you donate $20 a month, with another 199 people, centrs will receive $4000 a month to help cover costs that are now currently not being met. The more monthly donations we receive, the better the chances that centrs will be able to recover its monthly present losses, to avoid closing centrs permanently.
You can make the difference for the LCCC by:
- Donating monthly by contacting the main office of centrs or going online. (LCCC main office: 416-759-4900 #2. Online Canada Helps: https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/9262)
- If you know others, not only of Latvian descent, who would be willing to contribute to centrs monthly, please become an LCCC ambassador and ‘get the word out’. Encourage family and friends to contact the LCCC main office, or to go online to become a monthly donor!
- If you are a ‘leader’ of any of the groups who frequent centrs, please encourage your members to become monthly donors!
Just as it was in 1979, when it was no longer relevant to debate the ‘whys’, ‘how’ and ‘whats’ of the purchase of 4 Credit Union Drive, the debating period of the current situation at the LCCC are no longer relevant. It is the situation, and it is very, very serious! Just as it was in 1979 when centrs opened its doors and volunteer support was strong, today in 2020 the financial support must be just as strong, to ensure the doors of the LCCC do not need to close in the near future.
Only you can make the difference for the LCCC. Please become a donor and an ambassador of good will for centrs! Together we can secure a bright and certain future for our beloved Latvian centre for generations to come. We are all centrs!