A portrait of local love

When Jeff Tsai and his family moved to Port Coquitlam 15 years ago, he remembers the city being much different from the lively community it is today.

“It was such a sleepy little suburb when we first moved,” he says “but has grown leaps and bounds into a bustling city.”

One of the things that he loves about his city, is that even in the face of growth, it has managed to keep hold of its unique character and keep its small town feel. He also appreciates that it allows his family easy access to Pacific Northwest nature, with mountains and forests just a short drive away.

A smiling family sits on deck chairs.

Jeff and his family.

His appreciation for the outdoors is one he says he’s happy to share with teenage daughter and son.

Showing his local love

Loving where he lives has made it easy for Jeff to get involved in his community and give back in a number of ways – especially when raising a young family. This has included volunteering with different municipal elections, coaching youth soccer teams and sitting on a number of Parent Advisory Committees (PACs).

“I’ve participated in innumerable school fundraisers,” laughs Jeff.

Volunteering for him is all about taking advantage of an opportunity to change things for the better.

“If more people took an active interest in improving things where they live, work or play, everyone would have a more positive outlook on life,” he says.

Leading the way

Jeff has been a long-time volunteer with the 777 Neptune Air Cadet Squadron, and currently serves as the chair of its executive committee. The squadron aims to develop in youth good citizenship, leadership, promote physical fitness, and to stimulate an interest in aviation.

Air cadets in formation.

The 777 Neptune Air Cadet Squadron

“Giving kids an opportunity to challenge themselves to learn new skills – whether technical, organizational, or social – gives them a strong foothold and a great start in their adult lives,” says Jeff.

He and his squad recently took part in the UPS Plane Pull in support of United Way. Twenty-one cadets came out to pull the UPS tarmac at YVR to pull a Boeing 757 that weighed an impressive 127,000 lbs.

Cadets At UPS Plane Pull

On Sunday September 23rd, cadets from 777 Neptune Squadron patricapated in the UPS Plane Pull. Along with United Way of the Lower Mainland, 21 particiapants (and a little bit of help) pulled a Boeing 757 weighting over 127,000 lbs! The most impressive part however wasn't what the cadets pulled in weight, it was how we came together as a team to complete the task, and how as a community were able to raise $2000 supporting United Way, and helping local youth who have aged out of foster care and are trying to make a better life for themselves by getting a post secondary education. Thanks to everyone who donated, and everyone who came out to the event, it was a blast! *French Translation*Le dimanche 23 septembre, les cadets du 777e Escadron Neptune ont patrouillé dans le Pull de l'avion UPS. Avec Centraide du Lower Mainland, 21 participants (et un peu d'aide) ont tiré un Boeing 757 pesant plus de 127 000 livres! L’aspect le plus impressionnant n’était toutefois pas le poids des cadets, c’est la façon dont nous nous sommes réunis en équipe pour accomplir la tâche et comment, en tant que communauté, nous avons pu recueillir 2 000 $ pour appuyer Centraide et aider les jeunes de la région en dehors de la famille d'accueil et essaient de faire une vie meilleure pour eux-mêmes en obtenant une éducation postsecondaire. Merci à tous ceux qui ont fait un don et à tous ceux qui ont participé à l'événement, c'était génial!Video – Flight Sergeant Moore 777 Neptune Squadron

Posted by 777 Neptune Royal Canadian Air Cadets on Monday, September 24, 2018


Even more impressive? How his team worked together to complete the task, while raising $2,000 in support of our community.

Jeff loved to see his group come together and support each other throughout the day. To him, it’s important that all children within our community to have equal access to programs, resources and activities to make friends, try new things and grow their leadership.

“All kids should have an opportunity to succeed regardless of where they are coming from.”

Worth a thousand words

Another way that Jeff gives back to his community is by volunteering with Help Portrait Ridge Meadows. Help Portrait is a global movement that brings together photographers, hairstylists and makeup artists who volunteer their time, tools and expertise to give back to those in need and empower their communities.

Every December, Jeff is one of many individuals from all around the world who work to give those less fortunate an opportunity to capture a moment in their lives and receive a free portrait to share with friends, family, or loved ones.

A group of people wearing red shirts smile at the camera.

Jeff and the Help Portrait community

“Participating in Help Portrait was a way of working with like-minded people and collectively putting our respective technical skills to use to make an impact on someone’s life,” says Jeff.

It’s also been a great way to discover different definitions of “giving back.”

“Helping someone doesn’t always have to be addressing critical needs,” he says. “It can also be providing an individual an opportunity to take a break from the daily grind and feel good about themselves.”

Looking ahead

For Jeff, volunteering is a much-loved constant in his life, and one that he looks forward to continuing.

“Volunteering is important,” he says. “There isn’t necessarily a single change that I can point to, but more a constant growth in my perspective on life.”

For him, the greatest thing about showing his local love is how he sees it rippling out, beyond his actions.

“Local love is a great way to define what we all try to achieve when we volunteer.”

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