Most people think of sandy beaches, or famous landmarks when planning a holiday.
Comox Valley Chamber of Commerce CEO Dianne Hawkins is not like most people.
When Dianne plans a day off, it may involve a short Island road trip on her vintage BMW motorbike, but when planning a holiday, more often than not, her “time off” surrounds helping those in need, in faraway places.
“I love doing humanitarian stuff. I’ve made two trips to the Dominican Republic with Live Different – they build houses,” she said. You go down for a week and you build homes for people in impoverished areas.”
Dianne said her giving spirit is a deep-seeded family characteristic.
“I think it comes from my grandfather,” she said. “My dad’s dad lived a life of service to others. He lived until he was 96 and he was, up until the day he died… he’d go to the gym three times a week, and the rest of the week he’d spend going to old folks’ homes. He’d play the piano and sing to them. He would go to Zellers, buy those two-for-one meals, eat one, get the other one packed up, then go visit shut-ins.
“My grandfather was very much about not drawing attention to the things we do, but doing them because we are called to. To you, much is given, and much is expected. That’s how my grandfather lived.”
Dianne has taken her grandfather’s ways to heart.
She has spent time in India, with the Dalits – the “untouchables” – against whom human rights abuses are a daily occurrence.
“Spending time at the Mercy Hospital, just feeding children, or visiting prostitutes and taking them food. It was … I cried every day I was in India.”
Those humanitarian ways continue to be passed along in Dianne’s family. Her son spent three months in Indonesia, working in the garbage slums. Her daughter was the one to introduce Dianne to Live Different.
“I think that life is all about making life less difficult for one another. That’s what it’s about.”
Dianne has made a difference in a lot of lives. She’s not done yet.
“My dream is to work one day with an organization that deals with social justice issues. Maybe human trafficking, rescuing young girls. I have a friend who is in Thailand right now, and he has raised enough money to make a film about the subject. He’s making a difference.”