By Connie Adair
The Toronto 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games may be months away, but for Melanie Chiu most of the running is already done.
Chiu, a broker with Engel & Völkers Uptown Toronto and founder of Toronto Track Volunteers, has gathered more than 150 volunteers to assist with this summer’s games.
An athlete throughout high school and university, Chiu founded Toronto Track Volunteers in 2011 to provide much-needed volunteers to help officials at track and field events. Her organization has provided volunteers at such events as The Canadian National Outdoor Championships, the World Deaf Athletic Championships and the Toronto International Track and Field Games.
In 2012 Chiu and her team were awarded Volunteer of the Year by Athletics Ontario and in January 2014 she was asked to assist at the 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games in Toronto. She is also a volunteer member of the organizing committee for athletics.
The former teacher became an agent three years ago – the go-getter wanting the challenge of being her own boss. She also wanted to set an example for her students. Teachers are always telling students they can do anything they set their minds to, so she decided to take her own advice. She says she loves the “chase of creating a business.”
Hard work isn’t new to Chiu, who has always had a second job. While teaching, she also worked in retail and as a personal trainer.
All of her experiences – teaching high school French and Spanish, athletics and real estate – are intertwined. Work ethic, passion, discipline and executive skills all come in handy at work and play.
Her first real estate clients were from Cuba and all of her clients since have been from international locations, including France and Mexico.
Chiu is a mentor for young leaders, real estate agents and entrepreneurs. Her volunteers range from 12 to 70-years-old, with one volunteer in his 80s. Volunteers don’t need experience and do jobs they are comfortable doing, she says. Her organization also provides a way for students to get their mandatory high school volunteer hours.
Her future goals include creating clinics and workshops but for now, she and her volunteers will concentrate on the Pan Am Games. Next up is training.
Chiu spent the first years creating Toronto Track Volunteers, building it from the ground up. She couldn’t be happier with its success. “It’s incredible and inspiring to create something larger than yourself, and to connect on a community level, not just as a business,” says Chiu, who hopes to inspire agents to “enhance their business by enhancing who you are.”
Come mid-August, when the Pan Am/Parapan Am games are over, Melanie Chiu and her dedicated group of volunteers will know they did their part to help make the international event a success.