by Wil Chan, CCF Board of Directors

The moment my son was born this April, everything came into clear focus. As a father, I want to be a strong role model for him more than anything. It’s the most important thing I can do to make sure he grows up to be a good person.

I grew up in the suburbs of San Diego, where I was lucky enough to be supported by my parents to go to university, which put me on the path to where I am today. But I know not everyone is that lucky. I want my son to grow up with a deep understanding of those injustices, and a sense of the innovation needed to start changing them.

I’m now a real estate lawyer, and I live with my young family in Gastown, a neighbourhood undergoing significant change. With commercial space increasingly in demand, I’ve noticed that many of the people who used to spend their time on the streets here have been pushed further east, and not-for-profit organizations working in the area have struggled to make rent.

Volunteering as a Central City Foundation board member is the best way for me to marry my commitment to making a difference and my concern for sustainable development.

I’ve been mindful of issues around housing and affordable spaces prior to law school, when I volunteered for the Pivot Legal Society, a not-for-profit organization and one of Central City Foundation’s many community partners. Pivot publishes the annual Hope in Shadows calendar, which is filled with photos taken by members of the Downtown Eastside community and sold on the streets.

I’ve seen the raw talent and creativity of my neighbours on the Downtown Eastside, and it’s given me a deep appreciation for the contribution they can and do make to our society.

I now work for a commercial real estate firm with properties across North America, and I enjoy the tangible nature of my work as my firm buys and develops hotels and other properties. But joining the Central City Foundation board this fall has made me think more carefully about something I already knew:

It isn’t always about the money.

Through its social purpose real estate model, Central City Foundation invests in buildings that provide a social impact for the community while preserving donors’ investments. With this model, the Foundation empowers our neighbours while earning income to support its operations.

Vancouver is younger than many of its North American counterparts, which means our city has the opportunity to do things differently, as Central City Foundation does.

Central City Foundation leads the way by serving as a vital source of strength and support for community organization working together to create better models for improving lives. Where better than in a young and innovative urban centre like Vancouver to pursue another way. I’m honoured to be part of it, and excited to see what the coming years bring.