What happens when a group of driven, creative and young visionaries set out to create the possibility of unity and connection in our community?
The result is a non-profit organization called, Community Tree. The organization was founded in November 2018 with the mission to help newcomers create meaningful connections with their local community through social and empowering events.
The vision of the organization was born through the personal experiences of the founders of Community Tree. Meherun Laila, President of Community Tree, was born in Bangladesh, grew up in Japan, moved to Canada, and briefly studied in Austria. With each move, she endured the challenges of culture shock, new languages, and new people. Thus, with this sentiment, she set out to rally her close friends and acquaintances to help take this vision and make it a reality through Community Tree.
Within a span of two months, Community Tree was created with a group of six founders: Aman Grewal (Vice President), Aanchal Dhir (Treasurer), Sara Beatriz (Secretary General), Ana Martinez (Marketing Director) and Kate Zheng (Member). On January 26th, 2019 they successfully launched and hosted their inaugural event “Taste of Community.” Taste of Community provided the platform for newcomers to mix and mingle with local Vancouverites and speakers while enjoying local cuisines.
One of the highlights of the event was the culinary demonstration by a reputable local chef, Ramin Tahouri. Chef Ramin specializes in plant-based delicacies with an impressive resume: Black & Blue Steakhouse, the Boathouse, and Meet. His mandate is to “focus on not only ethical eating, but ethical living.” Throughout the event, Chef Ramin created delicious and healthy canapes for the guests, finishing it off with his popular homemade vegan ice cream. As part of the experience, he did a demonstration to the guests on how to create their very own quick, healthy and delicious appetizers. As all the participants and guests of the event gathered around Chef Ramin’s impromptu kitchen, the social and cultural barriers began to dissolve.
The attendees also enjoyed party platters sponsored by Nuba, coffee sponsored by JJ Bean and pizza and lasagna sponsored by Papa Dave’s Pizza.
Other notable speakers included:
Dietician Devika Sharma, BSc., RD who is the founder of One More Bite, a Vancouver based nutrition consulting company. Through her business and her experience, Devika aims to provide accurate dietary information to assist with prevention, intervention and treatment of nutrition impacted diseases. In her book, “Healthy Indian”, and at the Taste of Community event, she openly shared her tips and tricks on how to lead a healthy lifestyle for the whole family, which partnered very well with Chef Ramin’s menu for the day.
The next few speakers included a highly knowledgeable mortgage specialist and Michelle Avelena, Partnerships & Projects lead at Paragon. While the mortgage specialist shared the nuances of the real estate market and the current mortgage environment, Michelle was able to share the requirements of the Canadian English Language Assessment (CELA) and how Paragon can help. Both of their presence was appreciated and was evident through the Q&A.
Co-founders of Xcelit Anya & Wendy as well as Winnie Furber from Anything Is Possible (AIP) Services were also present at the event. Both these organizations & speakers showed their passion for career coaching and development from their unique perspectives. At Xcelit, Anya & Wendy authentically shared their experience and unique vision for their company to help newcomers unlock their potential. With Anya’s background as a professional advisor and Wendy’s mentorship and coaching, newcomers are in great hands to lock down their dream job in Canada.
Winnie Furber from AIP was the grand finale of the event. She shared her experience and challenges of immigrating to another country. She understands the challenges that many newcomers go through, such as, understanding the Canadian employment culture and what employers are looking for. She conducted a 30-minute career coaching demonstration which was a glimpse into the tools that she can provide to help navigate the journey of employment in Canada.
What’s next for this organization? The founders are dreaming big: they want to continue to create more events around Greater Vancouver and connect with more newcomers. But who is to say that they will stop there? As these young visionaries are ambitious and full of drive, don’t be surprised if you see them expanding nationally and connecting more people through their empowering events.
If you want more information or want to volunteer/sponsor/partner with Community Tree, visit www.communitytreevan.ca.