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Making a difference

by Derek Jory / Vancouver Canucks

When Melanie Hameluck turns 18 this summer, she’ll likely go crazy and relax for an hour.

Then she’ll get right back to it.

There’s no time for rest when you’re the most selfless 17-year-old on the planet.

Melanie doesn’t wear a cape, but she should. The Grade 12 student from Dr. Charles Best Secondary in Coquitlam has been involved with 16 different clubs throughout high school, including Best Buddies, a group that spawned Project Hello, a group of students who help the homeless send holiday cards to loved ones they’ve lost touch with.

That wasn’t enough for Melanie. She recently decided she has more to give, yet had no appropriate outlet, so she created two programs on her own. The first is a special needs cheerleading team, the second, called Don’t Blink, has her visit otherwise alone seniors on their birthdays, bringing them cupcakes, flowers and cheer.

Her plate wasn’t full enough this past December and Be A Santa To A Senior was born; she rallied 150 students from her school to buy gifts for the elderly.

All this is done in addition to tutoring she does, she’s a volunteer skating instructor for the Canucks Autism Network and, how could I forget, she works three nights a week.

A gentle reminder she’s a 17-year-old high school senior facing more important life decisions these days than ever before.

Melanie’s magnanimity is best summed up, appropriately, with an OMG, which is short for Oh My Goodness, and is texted a million times an hour by typical 17-year-olds.

This young lady is anything but typical.

“Since I was little I’ve always noticed that making other people happy is what makes me happy, so I learned from that and just started getting involved a lot,” said Melanie, who will be honoured pre-game March 1st as part of the Canucks Local Heroes program.

Her first venture into volunteering came in 2008 at a soup kitchen in Coquitlam where she helped out for three years before it closed.

That experience fueled Melanie’s fire and before long nearly every hour of her day planner was reserved. She lives a hectic life and doesn’t intend on slowing things down anytime soon.

“My dream job as of right now is to become a pediatric nurse, I want to work at the Children’s Hospital,” she said of future goals. “But I definitely want to start something of my own in the future, like my own foundation or charity, I can really see myself doing that.

“I also want to work with Doctors Without Borders and try to go to third world countries. I want to just keep expanding on everything.”

It’s overwhelming reading all the kindness Melanie spreads, let alone actually doing it all.

Heather, one of Melanie’s two older sisters who nominated her for this recognition, said giving is just what Melanie does best.

“Melanie has always been very involved in the world and always wanted to put herself out there and just get involved in the community,” said Heather, 20, who helps Melanie coach the special needs cheerleading team once a week.

“Our family tries to follow in her footsteps because she just does so much good.”

Big sisters don’t typically follow in their little sister’s footsteps, but again, Melanie is far from a mainstream teenager.

Thanks to her, the smile count in the lower mainland will remain as high as it’s ever been for a long time to come.

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