Speak with anyone who has known Pauline for any length of time and you hear the same word used over and over again to describe her – fearless.
Despite a childhood accident that left her with limited mobility, Pauline has never been afraid to go where others often fear to tread. Jet skiing? She checked that off her personal to-do list several years ago. Parasailing? Check.
“She’s the kind of person who will try anything, especially if people tell her she can’t do something,” says Sarah Wake, a Coordinator with Epic Opportunities and a former Disability Support Worker who has worked closely with Pauline. “She’s just one of those people who is not averse to taking risks. She wants to show people what she can do.”
Pauline has done plenty since joining Epic Opportunities soon after completing high school in 1997 when the not-for-profit agency was still known as Hope Centre. She and her parents learned about the organization from a family friend who worked there at the time and suggested it might be a good fit for them.
One of the best things about being involved with Epic Opportunities’ day services, Pauline says, is the opportunities it has provided her with to meet new people. She has developed close ties with several people served by the agency as well as staff, thanks in part to her generous nature. It’s not uncommon for her to buy treats and share them with the people around her, a quality she says she learned from mom Lin and dad Fung.
Pauline’s sense of adventure might explain why she is such an avid traveller. Her journeys have taken her everywhere from Mexico and the Caribbean to Disneyland and Hawaii. Asked which destination has been her favourite so far and she doesn’t hesitate. “Las Vegas,” she says. As for where she still hopes to visit, Pauline says she would love to travel to India some day and catch some Bollywood-style singing and dancing.
While Pauline is quick to help those around her, she is also a strong self-advocate. She is quick to make her opinion known if she doesn’t like the way someone is doing something or is dissatisfied with the way her services are being delivered.
“She’s someone who is a force to be reckoned with. She will not be deterred in connecting with others and getting them to understand her, no matter what,” says Manager Pam Munnik, who first worked with Pauline shortly after she and her family joined Epic Opportunities.
Pauline can make her thoughts known in a couple of different languages. In addition to speaking English, she also knows some French and is fluent in Mandarin. “Ni hao ma?” she asks a visitor in Mandarin, which translates into “How are you” in English. She responds “Wo hen hao,” or “I am good” when the visitor asks her the same question.
Another one of Pauline’s passions is games of chance. Her favourite is rummy, a game she’s so good at that some people are nervous about playing her. She also loves arts and crafts and has made everything from a wallet for her dad to moccasins.