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Saturday August 1 2015
7:46 AM EDT
2014-03-21 at 17:04

Looking for youth

The Finlandia Association is looking for new members.
Jodi Lundmark, tbnewswatch.com
The Finlandia Association is looking for new members.
By Jodi Lundmark, tbnewswatch.com

With a membership that’s aging, the Finlandia Association is looking to fill seats on its board.

At its last annual general meeting a couple of weeks ago, only 17 people showed up. And of the 13 board members, only about seven regularly attend meetings.

"We're on a campaign to find younger people," said vice-chairman Vesa Vanska.

They've already seen growth through the addition of the Finlandia Hockey Club last year. In its first year, the program had five teams.

This year they have 14 and the program has brought in about 200 younger members.

The group also dropped its club status in favour of becoming an association and opening membership to the general public and not just the Finn community.

Vanska said they hope to create a strong board to help run the associations three main entities - the Finlandia Hall, Hoito Restaurant and Embassy Bistro.

"We do a lot of business here and without a proper board, it's hard to manage all that stuff. If there is problems, there are on the management end because of the membership aging," he said.

Marvin Salmi, board of directors chairman, said the challenge in having such a small board is the responsibility of running the association falls on too few people.

"We want to get more people involved so everybody understands what's going on so it doesn't become a closed society," he said.

"We ant to keep it open as much as possible."

The Bay Street building has undergone renovations for the past four years at a cost of about $2 million. Both the federal and provincial governments chipped in to help with the construction costs.

The building has been declared a national and provincial heritage site.

While the construction slowed down business at times, Salmi said they are on the rebound.
And despite the struggle to find board members, Salmi doesn't foresee the Finlandia Association having to close their doors anytime soon.

"Not for another 100 years," he said. "We have to keep going. We can't stop now."

The association's next meeting is April 3.


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