Canada’s Top 20 Under 20: Saying HELLO to the Homeless

Shaaz Nasir

Warning: this article is simply going to inspire you to achieve your dreams no matter what the cost or completely crush your self esteem after realizing you have done nothing with your life, relativity speaking.

Relative to who you ask?

The Top 20 under 20: Adam and Anoop! 

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of sitting down with two of Canada’s Top 20 Under 20 to discuss their projects, passions and above all purpose of achieving so much in such a short amount of time.

Anoop,  age 17, and Adam, age 19,  had already found the perfect balance between enthusiasm, ambition and modesty. Throughout our conversation they demonstrated that they had the audacity to make an impact on our pessimistic world around us. We in fact covered so much that MTG has decided to launch a series with these top 20 under 20.

Series one will cover what drives a young professional such as Anoop Virk at age 17, to dedicated hundreds of hours to volunteering and playing a crucial part in establishing a ground breaking movement called Project HELLO (Helping Everyone Locate Loves Ones).

Tell me in a few words who you are. Give me a generic blurb.

Generic blurb? hahah!  Well my name is Anoop Virk and I am a seventeen year old girl who just graduated from Dr. Charles Best Secondary School. I was an honour roll, French immersion student. I am a 2011 Top 20 under 20 recipient in Canada and have always been extremely involved in volunteerism. I have discovered that my passion is to help people and this aspect brought me to co-founding project HELLO and volunteering my time throughout various activities.

Impressive, what types of volunteering did you become involved in throughout your years? uuuhh I sound like I am asking a 60 year old, not a 17 year old…HOW did you do all this?! 

I am just really passionate in helping others, that’s my drive and throughout high school I somehow managed to juggle around friends, family, school grades and volunteerism. Volunteering in the school and community was very important to me. I wrote down a couple of activities that come to mind:

  • Project HEALTH/HELLO (Helping Everyone Locate Loved Ones) (2009-2011) Co-Founder  
  • Wet Matt Program (2009- 2011)
  • Best Buddies (2008-2011)
  • Math Council & Pi of the tiger (2009-2011)
  • Student council (2008-2011)
  • Environment Club (2010-2011)
  • Me to We Team (2010-2011)
  • Grad Council (2010-2011)
  • Odyssey of the Mind Volunteer (March 11 2011)
  • Storm Troopers (2009-2010) 
  • S.P.I.I.N (Students Promoting International Improvement Now) (2009-2010) 
  • Reading buddies (2009-2010) (Total: 15 hours)
  • Children’s Festival (summer 2008) (Total: 10 hours)

WOW, I can see it takes a lot to be one of the top 20 under 20. I calculated the number of hours you have given and well it’s in the hundreds. Amazing! Tell me more about the HELLO project, the one you co-founded? 

I am just amazed at how this all happened. I was not even going to apply for the top 20 under 20, I just feel fortunate.

Now you see the downtown east side of Vancouver is one of Canada’s poorest neighborhoods. The streets are riddled with people suffering from poverty, drug addiction and mental illness. Many school groups visit to provide the needy with food and clothing. However a couple of students, a counselor and I wanted to do more. We wanted to give hope back to the neighborhood; so we created Project HELLO (Helping Everyone Locate Loves Ones).

I am a co-founder of Project HELLO. The group’s energy is dedicated to reuniting people from the poverty filled streets of East Hastings with people who care about them. We knew that there were many organizations that provided essentials to the homeless, but we wanted to do something more. Instead of giving handouts, we decided to enable them with the power to give during the holiday season and instill hope within them.

We designed personally handmade cards and took them to the downtown east side approaching the residents and encouraging them to write to their loved ones that they had lost touch with. The goal was to offer the opportunity to give while taking the first step in reconnecting with loved ones, with whom which they had lost contact. We took the cards back and searched the internet oftentimes with very minimal information in order to find their families. Again with usually very little information, it took hours to locate even one family. We have done more than we ever imagined, reconnecting over 200 families to date.

want more?

In our next installment of  the Top 20 under 20 series, Anoop will share her stories on meeting the future King and Queen of England. No big deal.

Later on you will all get the chance to experience Adam Moscoe (an amazing person) and his journey to becoming the top 20 under 20, currently he is in Germany exploring this amazing program that… well I won’t give it away just yet as you will all find out soon enough!

Let the top 20 under 20 teach us old folks a lesson or two only on MTG