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Volunteer SPOTLIGHT:
Sharon Manana

Volunteer SPOTLIGHT: Sharon Manana

Name: Sharon Manana
Years lived in Norfolk: 15+ years
Job: Community Engagement
Company: Work Program Architects (WPA)
Industry: Architecture, Urban Design, Interior Design, Graphic Design

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How did you get connected to the ERT And why do you volunteer for the ERT?

I’ve lived in Ghent for most of my time in Norfolk and the ERT is within walking distance from my home. In fact, walking and running on the trail was a huge part of my routine during the pandemic, as most people can relate to not being able to do much or go anywhere. When I started working at WPA, I attended Master Planning meetings and learned so much about the Trail. The more I learned, the more I wanted to get involved. In the past year and a half, my involvement has also included being on the DEI Committee.

What is your role on the DEI Committee and how does DEI impact the work of the ERT?

I’m a Co-Vice Chair for the DEI Committee and it’s a role that I truly enjoy. I’m a people person and just passionate about connecting with people who are different from me. Working with the DEI Committee has enabled me to continue engaging with people of various backgrounds and learning about how the trail can benefit those communities. My hope is that the DEI Committee makes the trail a destination for all people to enjoy and that we’re able to capture the needs of all persons regardless of race, ability, sex, religion, ethnicity, creed, and gender.

What are the goals of the DEI Committee?

The DEI Committee is a little over a year old and as we continue to establish ourselves in the community, our goals are aligning to connect neighborhoods and groups as we move towards the east. We want to improve trail engagement and awareness in an intentional and inclusive manner. The DEI Committee is also striving to be more involved in community events in an effort to have an ERT presence in our City.

What about the ERT motivates or inspires you to continue being involved?

The ERT’s desire to expand towards the East inspires me to connect with more communities than I already have. There are several underrepresented groups throughout our City and I look forward to the day when the trail connects these communities in a meaningful way that encourages them to be a part of the economic, physical, and social growth through community outreach.

What is the impact and role of the ert in our community?

The ERT is a connector of several neighborhoods throughout Norfolk, each with its own idiosyncrasies that make this region unique. The economic growth along the trail speaks volumes to the opportunities that our area provides for the people who live, play and work here. I look forward to the expansion of the trail towards the east as that will include more communities that are representative of Norfolk’s diversity.

What is your favorite place on the trail?

Plum Point Park is my peaceful bike path and also where I’ve taken my family when they visit me from Africa and Los Angeles. I love watching sunsets and being so close to the water. It’s also the place where I attempt to run but often end up just enjoying the view while sitting on the bench, thinking about anything and everything.

Favorite Trailgrazing spot? (i.e. best local food spot steps from the trail)

It’s hard to pick just one but for several years, I used to go to Pete’s Trivia night every Wednesday at Smartmouth and also volunteered there quite a bit. Live folk music at Cure Coffeehouse on Thursdays was one of the highlights of my week when I would walk on the Trail, over the Hague Bridge, and end up at Cure. I always got a kick out of being handed a tambourine and felt like part of a bluegrass band. Smartmouth and Cure are two of many community-centric businesses that I love to support!

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