Back in 1972, the site of the community centre was chosen due to the proximity of the largest subsidized BC Housing Complex (Skeena Terrace) that houses over 165 family units. The local inner city school, Thunderbird Elementary, continues to be ranked 6th in vulnerability amongst the elementary schools in Vancouver. Currently, student enrollment includes 211 families and over 240 children. Within this culturally diverse groups over 21 different languages are spoken which highlights the depth of cultural diversity amongst the Thunderbird community. Thunderbird Elementary is physically attached to the Thunderbird Community Centre so that both sites work in tandem too serve the educational, social, recreational and cultural needs of area residents from one central location and to ensure that the disadvantaged, at-risk families and children or youth in our neighbourhood have access to programs and services, regardless of their financial situation.
Thunderbird Centre is within a four block radius of three Beulah Garden Homes Society facilities for seniors aged 55+ years. The three existing buildings are home to approximately 200 seniors. This coupled with 120 Skeena Terrace senior residents suggests that both organizations cater to seniors living on a limited and/or fixed income and/or who live below the poverty level thus ensuring Thunderbird Centre is kept busy serving this age group.
Youth in this community are directly at risk due to the lack of financial support and resources available to them. A compounding factor is that youth raised in a high crime community often come to view crime, drug use and gang participation as normalized behaviour. Without positive guidance at the community level many of these youth will become statistics just like members from the generation previous. Consequently, youth without resources and opportunities will regard older youth involved with gang crime as role models. Youth staff work tirelessly to break this cycle and develop programs and services, advocate and to empower youth to make personal changes.
With each passing decade there are subtle changes that suggest that gentrification is occurring and programming is shifting due to these demographics. The Board and staff will continue to adapt and serve.
Our mission is to provide educational, cultural, recreational and social service programs to the Thunderbird catchment area.
Thunderbird Community Centre came to be when Thunderbird Elementary school was built in response to a BC Housing complex that opened its doors, adjacent to it, in 1972. A primary purpose of having a School and Centre share the same premises is so that together greater things can be achieved. Though two different mandates, the Centre partners with the School on many issues, programs, projects and events.
Challenges vs Successes
The governing body of the Community Centre is Thunderbird Neighbourhood Association. Despite some of the socio-economic challenges, we have had monumental success in being politically savvy and fundraising back in 1990’s to get a 2nd floor built at the Community Centre. It was a Community initiative that drove this project. Other successes have been art-focused such as two banner projects and two community projects. We are currently involved in a third community art project, entitled “How do we highlight the diversity and unity of our community”.
Jointly operated with the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation
The Joint Operating Agreement is intended to define the working partnership between the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation and each of 20 Community Associations developed to provide recreation and leisure opportunities and to facilitate provision of community services to the residents of each community.