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For this Montrealer, volunteering is a way of life

Vanessa Manroop, a recipient of Canada's Volunteer Award, says she’s motivated by her love for helping others.

Vanessa Manroop thrives on helping others reach their full potential

A woman in white blouse looks over her shoulder.

CBC Quebec is highlighting people from the province's Black communities who are giving back, inspiring others and helping to shape our future. These are the 2023 Black Changemakers.

When it comes to volunteering, Vanessa Manroop said it's never been a question of why. She's always wanted to help others, so when people have asked her to chip in — whether it was tutoring students in math or singing in the church choir — she has never said no.

"It might be the low-key people pleaser in me," she said, laughing.

That volunteer work has led to new experiences, like taking on public-speaking roles and helping to launch the book club Black Girls Gather, an initiative of the West Island Black Community Association that aims to empower young Black women through literature.

"I just kept saying 'yes' and this is where it's gotten me!"

Manroop is wrapping up a degree in human resources management at Concordia University. There she's been working with the school's Black Perspectives Office (BPO), helping young, Black undergraduates navigate university life.

"At Concordia, especially at John Molson at the School of Business, it's mostly white and men," she said.

"The BPO has created a space where Black students come together.… They've just really given me a space but also have inspired me."

Outside of school, she is the organizer and host of a Meet and Greet with Black Professionals event through the West Island Black Community Association, so Black Montrealers can support local businesses or find mentors within their communities.

Manroop, a recipient of Canada's Volunteer Award, says she's motivated by her love for helping others.

"If there's someone … that's struggling with something," she said, "if I know the answer, the solution, it doesn't make sense to keep it."

She says she'd never be one to hoard information.

"Gatekeeping is not cute!"

'Every facet of her life'

Fabiola Ngamaleu Teumeni, who works with Manroop through Black Girls Gather, said she's always been impressed by Manroop's dedication to helping others.

"Some people do volunteering for the hours; some people do volunteering and then move on to the next thing," she said. "But Vanessa's been consistent from the beginning. Since she's put her mind to volunteering and really focusing on that, she has not stopped."

"She started out being a tutor. Now she hosts events and she helps plan them…. It's just every facet of her life."

It's something Manroop hopes to keep up even after she graduates and enters the workforce. Her hope is to put her degree to use working on diversity and inclusion initiatives.

"I just want to mesh my love and passion for community. Uplifting Black people, uplifting BIPOC people and giving them a hand — a better chance at just being great."

The Black Changemakers is a special series recognizing individuals who, regardless of background or industry, are driven to create a positive impact in their community. From tackling problems to showing small gestures of kindness on a daily basis, these changemakers are making a difference and inspiring others. Meet all the changemakers here.

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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