The Leaders of Tomorrow Award recognizes youth who make a difference in Calgary through their volunteer activities. Three individuals are recognized each year in the elementary, junior high and senior high categories for their energy, commitment and character as volunteers. This award is sponsored by Encana Corporation to honour young people and their commitment to community.
Dillion Chan moved to Canada from Hong Kong when he was in grade 7, an experience he will be the first to tell you that he is grateful for.
As with many people who immigrated to Canada, Dillon found that volunteering helped him get out of the house and into the community, effectively submersing himself in the new culture.
“Volunteering helped me a lot with building my confidence, because volunteering actually made me be brave enough to get into the community, not just in a classroom, and helping a particular teacher, but interacting with the community,” Dillon says.
Dillon dipped his toes in the volunteering pond by volunteering for the City of Calgary day camps, he then decided to step out of his “safe zone” and try new things by volunteering for the Wing Kei nursing home and becoming more involved in student life at his junior high school, Georges P. Vanier.
It was during his first volunteer engagements that he discovered that he had a passion for helping others.
“A big motivator is the smiles and positive energy that I receive from volunteering. When I go help in the nursing home, it’s amazing to be able to give the seniors a joie de vivre,” says Dillon. “It is as if I am part of the family and sometimes I am the only family they have. It’s so rewarding to know that I made a difference in people’s lives.”
He doesn’t just sit on his laurels at the Wing Kei nursing home. Dillon goes out of his way to help improve the quality of life for residents – which includes playing scrabble.
“At the nursing home, many families don’t visit very often. All of the seniors are very happy and thankful that I volunteer there twice a week. I make cake for the residents and play bingo with them. I even have a weekly scrabble tournament with one of the female residents; she is way better than me though! I always lose, and it’s not on purpose,” Dillon laughs.
At his school, Dillon’s volunteer spirit and leadership qualities really shine. “I was really excited at the start of the school year because I was determined to make this the best year ever and make school better for everyone.”
He does this by offering his services in many different ways around his school. He is a peer tutor, library assistant, creates the video student announcements, classroom assistant and a student event coordinator.
Dillon also competed in the Canstruction Jr. competition, where he created a sculpture from the donated food for the Mayor’s Foodbank; he even won the structural integrity and ingenuity award.
In general, Dillon is very inspired by Mark and Craig Kielburger, and is a big supporter of Free the Children. He coordinated programs in the school such as the We Create Change penny drive, We Scare Hunger food bank drive and We are Love fundraising drive.
“I know there are many people less fortunate in other countries in the world. That’s why I am a huge supporter of Free the Children. I have raised money for safe drinking water, educational supplies in classrooms and health care,” says Dillon, though he is quick to point out that he also tries to help in “his own back yard, by helping with food drives and collecting clothing for the less fortunate.
As for being a Leader of Tomorrow, Dillon is well on his way.
“I think it’s so important to demonstrate strong citizenship and character at school and model for the grade 7s and 8s what school leadership is all about. I work hard to help students have fun, have a voice and stay motivated. I want everyone to get passionate about something. It makes life so meaningful and rewarding if you know you made a difference.”
Watch Dillon in action below.