Born-and-raised Calgarian and self-proclaimed volunteer-aholic, Reg Tiangha’s love for Calgary shines through his involvement in countless local volunteer organizations. A passionate advocate for volunteerism, he urges Filipinos to step out of their comfort zone.
“My mother couldn’t wrap her head around why anyone would want to work for free,” Tiangha jokes. “But the fact of the matter is that volunteering can open so many doors for people.”
Stuck in a dead-end job, he found himself questioning if there was more to life post-grad than his work as a computer scientist.
“My prime motivator was that I needed some kind of change in my life,” Tiangha says. “Through various volunteer opportunities, I now have great experience in social media, public relations and communications and event coordination.”
His foray into the world of volunteering began in 2006 as a weekly blogger for the Calgary Herald to promote the Stampede and events and activities that happened at Stampede Park year-round.
A few years later he joined the Stampede’s promotion committee during the rise of social media platforms. As a brand ambassador for the organization he attracted heavy-hitters in Calgary’s social media scene and helped kick-start social media programs for various Stampede volunteer committees.
“I still volunteer with the Stampede today,” he says, continuing his work as a social media liaison for volunteer committees like the concessions and exhibits which is responsible for designing the program that awards “best of” food awards to varying categories for midway vendors.
Outside of his Stampede volunteer commitments, Tiangha has kept busy as a blogger for Downtown Calgary, a brainstormer for grassroots public engagement activities for 3 Things for Calgary and an organizer for the Calgary Mini Maker Faire. He’s also the Dean of the local chapter of The Awesome Foundation.
“How it works is that a $1,000 no-strings-attached micro grant is awarded to an idea every month, funded by trustees who put in $100 of their own money each month,” Tiangha explains.
“I figured that it’d be cool if I could help enable someone else to bring their awesome idea to fruition.”
Tiangha took over as Dean of Awesome Calgary when founder Lori Stewart stepped down.
“I was able to organize some pretty cool events in our own right,” says Tiangha. “From a Valentine’s Day pink balloon bomb downtown, a Cardboard Fort Day and even a ‘Meat-Filled’ Zebra Pinata Party.”
Besides making a positive impact on the community, volunteering promotes self-growth and development. It helps people diversify their skill set at no cost except for a few hours of time and gives an edge to job candidates.
“It shows that they’re active in the community and that they’re mature enough to juggle other responsibilities, Tiangha points out. “Plus, relevant volunteer experience can help make up for any shortfalls that may appear in the work experience section of the resume.”
Tiangha praises Filipinos in particular for their hardworking and positive work ethic which he believes would be an invaluable contribution to Calgary’s volunteer corps and help spread ethnic diversity.
“Anyone I talk to that has dealt with a Filipino in a business capacity has had nothing but kind things to say,” he says. “To bring those qualities to the forefront, it’s important for more Filipinos to volunteer to show the city the value that we can bring to the community as a community of people ourselves.
He rationalizes that the increased visibility of Filipinos volunteering in Calgary would ultimately help Filipinos who want to immigrate here or find work in the future. They would benefit from the reputation that the local Filipino community would have helped built and make Filipinos a desired commodity for any organization looking to recruit new people. “Plus, volunteering is fun and is a great way to meet new people, which is especially important if you’re new to the city and don’t know anyone who lives here yet,” Tiangha says.
He sympathizes with the frustration newcomers feel when they first immigrate, looking to gain citizenship and sacrificing their happiness by taking on unfulfilling jobs to support themselves.
“Volunteering in those circumstances could help improve their quality of life,” he says. “Especially if they can find an organization or mission that they could buy into where their work would be seen as valued and relevant.”
If you are interested in getting your career in volunteering started, consider joining Awesome Foundation – Calgary for their re-launch as a volunteer or trustee at www.awesomecalgary.org.