White Rock duo to spread virtuous message

Kelly Monjazeb (left) and Myra Merkal hold up their virtue cards. Each card names one of the project’s 101 virtues as well as a definition. - Sarah Massah photo
Kelly Monjazeb (left) and Myra Merkal hold up their virtue cards. Each card names one of the project’s 101 virtues as well as a definition.
— image credit: Sarah Massah photo

Learning about caring, respect, trust and honour may seem like child’s play, but two White Rock women say it’s anything but.

“It’s easier said than done to follow the virtues. It’s about living it,” said Kelly Monjazeb.

“People think that these are the things you learn at school or when you’re young, but everyone can benefit from it.”

In 1995, Monjazeb – a trained social worker – began to delve into the world of the Virtues Project, which aims to “inspire the practice of virtues in everyday life” and has been adopted in 95 countries.

She soon became so passionate about the project – which teaches 101 virtues, such as tact, generosity, humility and commitment – that she became a master facilitator so she could spread the message.

Five years ago, the message reached Monjazeb’s neighbour, Myra Merkal – founder of the White Rock Princess Party held last month – who instilled aspects of the project into the annual fundraiser.

“Kelly is a great role model to me. I just love watching her practise the virtues in her family, with her children and the acknowledgment,” Merkal said. “That’s what inspired me.”

Now, both women want to take the global mission to the next step with a two-hour information session Sept. 20 on the virtues, entitled “What you do makes a difference.”

Billed as an interactive evening, the event will teach participants the language of virtues, discover how life’s challenges are opportunities for growth and provide opportunity for reflection, Monjazeb said.

“The virtues are not new, they are very ancient, and yes, many of us were raised understanding some basic values, but this goes a little deeper. This is about the core of who we are,” Monjazeb said. “Life provides opportunities everyday to develop our character and when we bring these virtues into our relationships, our relationships flourish.”

“There is still a lot of darkness still in the world that still exists and the concept of this project is rather than fight the darkness, to bring in the light.”

The seminar, which the women hope to expand to become a regular occurrence in the city, will focus on introducing the concept of the 101 virtues, the five virtues strategy and understanding the language of the virtues.

The language refers to different ways to encourage the virtues, either by acknowledgment, correction or by guidance.

Merkal referred to an instance between her two granddaughters where the youngest shared her bike with her sibling.

“I told her, that was very nice to share her bike like that, and she said, ‘I know Oma, sharing is important, isn’t it.’ And that’s an example of acknowledgment. She’s learning the language,” Merkal said.

Monjazeb added, “It deepens the connection between people, because you’re saying, ‘I see you.’ Not what you look like on the inside, but I see who you are and I see where you’re struggling, so let’s work with that.

“Also, at its foundation it has that concept of social responsibility, which is why I chose that title. What everyone does makes a difference.”

Proceeds from the event will go towards an all-abilities park Merkal and her son, White Rock firefighter Evan Bird, are hoping to build along the city’s waterfront.

The session will begin at 6:30 p.m. at Pacific Inn Resorts, 1160 King George Blvd.

Admission is by donation, with a recommended donation of $15.

For more information, visit or

To register for the event, email

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