As a child growing up in India, Renu Kapoor recalls her mother helping young women further their education, while her father was a founding member of the Rotary service club in the country. She also remembers that students coming from other countries to attend school in their community were welcomed into their home. She absorbed those childhood lessons and has applied them as a volunteer and fundraiser and in her professional work as a counsellor.
“I tend to volunteer with activities that relate to community needs that I’ve identified as important,” she says. “My criteria for volunteering is: ‘Will it help people and make our community better?’”
“Regina has enriched my and my family’s life so much, and I believe in giving back to this community. I feel so fortunate to have met many beautiful people and to have built long-lasting friendships along the way,” she says
Kapoor has a Master of Social Work from the University of Lucknow, India, and a Master of Science-Social Work from the University of Wisconsin. She and her husband Don settled in Regina in 1965, when there was what she describes as a small but vibrant ethnic community in the city. “We faced challenges but felt welcomed,” she says. “In many ways the Regina of today is built on cultural diversity and richness; it is part of our city’s identity.”
Kapoor’s 35-year career focused on mental health and addictions counselling with the former Saskatchewan Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission and the Regina Health District. Over her career, she witnessed a shift in public attitudes regarding addictions and
“There was a stigma attached to people with addictions or mental health issues, but in my work I counselled people from all walks of life,” Kapoor notes. “Attitudes are quite different now; there is an understanding that these things can happen to anyone.”
Her volunteer activities outside work encompass organizations such as Cultural Connections Regina, Community Foundations of Canada, Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse and Addiction, South Saskatchewan Community Foundation, SaskCulture, Regina Public Library, YWCA Regina, Saskatchewan Health Care Excellence Awards, United Way Regina, North Central Family Centre and Regina Airport Authority.
“It is the biggest surprise of my life, and I feel deeply humbled by this honour,” Kapoor says.
Kapoor has also taken leading roles in various fundraising galas, including India Night, Champions for Mental Health, Moving Forward Together and the RCMP Charity Ball. She has been recognized for her volunteer work with the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers and Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, University of Regina President’s Community Award, YWCA Volunteer of the Year Award and the Saskatchewan Volunteer Medal, among many others.
Kapoor says she was in shock for days when she received the call from University of Regina President Vianne Timmons that she was to receive an honorary degree. “It is the biggest surprise of my life, and I feel deeply humbled by this honour,” Kapoor says. Her parents raised her to believe in the spirit of sharing, she adds, and that people should volunteer because of their values, not for recognition.
“Regina has enriched my and my family’s life so much, and I believe in giving back to this community. I feel so fortunate to have met many beautiful people and to have built long-lasting friendships along the way,” she says.
Kapoor receives her honorary degree on June 6, 2019.