Jane/Finch Community and Family Centre, serving local residents for 35 years

By David RosEditorWhen the Jane/Finch Community and Family Centre first opened its doors in 1976, no one could have predicted how big it would truly become.The centre, which was created after two years of study, in order to meet the changing demographics of the community, started with just one staff member, it now employs 77 full and part-time staff members, and 443 volunteers, providing services for close to 25,000 people.“There were a lot of young families moving in at the time in our community, but there weren't programs and services available at that time for those families,” Said Wanda MacNevin, who was hired as the organization's first staff member.MacNevin, who now serves as the centre's Director of Community Programs, says the centre has consistently developed programs and services that are a direct response to what is needed in the community.One of the organization's proudest recent accomplishments, was the creation of The Spot, a a youth drop-in centre at the York Gate Mall. This initiative was put forth under the leadership of Sue Wilkinson, the organization's former executive director, who has recently taken up a job as Director of the Ontario Non-profit network.MacNevin said that Wilkinson heard local youth complaining that they didn't have a place where they could hang out, and so she worked with them to create the space.“They didn't just want a room, they wanted a beautiful urban environment, so it has the bamboo floors, it has sofas in there, it's something you might see downtown,” MacNevin said. “It is a really nice space for youth to go to.”MacNevin said the centre offers programs for people of all ages which reflect the diversity of the community and all programs offered are free.“It's very important for us to be accessible,” MacNevin said. “We really do make sure our programs are run locally, so that people in apartment buildings and people in social housing can access them.”