Are you new in Canada? Have you just
landed either as an immigrant, a student or on a working visa
and donít have your circle of friends yet? Or have you been
living most of your life in Canada but have not had the
opportunity to expand your social network? Literally, there
are billions of potential friends in our world. You can even
diversify your options and choose wisely. However, take a look
around. How many of us take the initiative to meet new people
and spend time with friends?
this day and age, majority of us are pre-occupied with the
hustle and bustle of life that we no longer have time to
prioritize some of lifeís essentials, one of which is meeting
new friends. To keep a healthy and balanced life, it is
fundamental to be a part of a social circle that allows
individuals to share mutual knowledge, esteem and interests.
With this mindset instilled in our Young Achiever, Christine
Phillips started dedicating her life by creating an enjoyable
environment for people to meet, greet and ultimately build
Christineís outgoing, fun and amiable nature
combined with her distinct personality earns her ĎGTA This
Monthís Young Achiever.í She has lived most of her younger
years in Brantford, where it is more laid-back, and where
people seem to have all the time in their life to do solitary
endeavors like go for meditative walks and read books at the
porch of their home-sweet-home. Coming from a small town in
Ontario, she describes herself as someone who had inhibitions
meeting new people, but her drive to find her destiny led her
to leave Brantford and cultivate bigger and better things in
the fast-paced city of Toronto.
After having the
chance to work as a project coordinator for a leading bank in
Canada, Christine knew she had to give back to the community.
She became a part of Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Toronto.
Her experience with the members of Big Brothers and Big
Sisters was the key inspiration in pursuing her focus in life
Ė and that is, giving other people a chance at friendship.
On May 7, 2008, Christine organised the Toronto Meet
up Group, an online social networking group where members from
ages 20-30 can meet new people and make friends conveniently
through the Internet; and although you can chat your heart out
endlessly, it wonít get you far if you donít open up an
opportunity for an actual meeting. Besides, making friends
online may not be that safe and secure nowadays as people
might not be who they say they are. So, we have to be
extremely careful with people that we meet online. To avoid
putting any members in any identity dilemmas, Christine
initiated a face-to-face meet up and actual social
interactions through events like picnics at the park or
organizing a BBQ. Whatever the season, whatever the mood,
Christine always comes up with the perfect event for all the
Amidst her hectic schedule, Christine has managed
to maintain a fully active group of almost 1,000
multi-cultural members. GTA This Month was inspired by
Christineís bold and successful attempt to make a difference
in peoplesí lives and invited her to tell us her story with
the hope of inspiring everyone.
GTA: What are the most dominant
characteristics do you think people love most about
CP: Definitely my outgoing
personality. People tell me that I am a very friendly person.
I have a lot of passion for things I do especially with this
group (Toronto Meet up Group). Anything that I do, whether
itís my job or something else, if I really like doing it, Iím
extremely passionate about it.
GTA: What is
your focus in life right now? And what have you been doing to
stay on track and achieve your
CP: ďBesides my current
job, my Meet up group is definitely the main focus in my life.
Itís not hard to stay on track and focus Ďcoz I do really
really love it. When I go home thatís all I do. I constantly
think about things that I can do for the group. Because I like
it so much itís not hard at all to stay
GTA: What can you tell us about
Toronto Meet up Group? How did you get into
CP: Itís basically a group of
people new to Toronto or have been here forever who may want
to meet new people and want to get out, Meet-Up is basically
there for that. I try to provide a safe environment for people
to come out and have fun with everyone in the group. I
organize events once to three times a week, allowing people to
meet and socialize with each other.
How I got into it?
Well, I was never really a social person but I became a part
of Big Sisters of Toronto about a year ago. They had an event
where the Big Sisters got together and went to a baseball
game. I went there alone, scared, but after the event, I
realized that I had a lot of fun. I was then thinking of ways
to organize events the same way and looked for ways to do so.
The next day, I ended up on Meet up and realized that I could
start a social group. I know I am a stronger leader than a
follower, so I definitely have that ability to start something
where my leadership skills can make things
GTA: How has the group succeeded so
CP: Within four months, the
members have soared to over 800. Iíve been told that itís the
fastest growing group and Iíve had so many successful events
so far. The BBQís held at the Toronto Islands have been the
most successful because people really like them and the event
has had the most number of attendees. Also, the way that the
group has expanded in a short period of time definitely
measures its success.
GTA: What is the main
highlight of the group?
CP: People are surprised
and amazed how one person can organize the events that I do.
It can be tiring but because itís so much fun, doing it on my
own is not a challenge. Another highlight as well is the rapid
in the number of members who joined in less than
four months. Because of the response I get and because people
are very much involved in the events, Iíve started to look
into holding events for charity. Iíve been thinking that if
people like doing events so much, if they
would be willing
to do it for charity,
Iím definitely considering
GTA: What is your ultimate goal for Toronto
Meet up Group?
CP: I want to have as many events
as I can and have as many members attend. I want people to be
able to make friendships through the group. There have been
relationships built. There are some who had started dating
through the group but Iím really trying to do something here
for people to build friendships. I do want to make it clear
that itís not a dating group. I want the group to be really
really big. Iím thinking of starting my own business, in which
I do want this group to be a major part
GTA: How would you link the group to our
multiculturalism? Is this an advantage or disadvantage in
having to maintain a large group with many cultural
CP: I think that I
have every culture represented in this group. In every event
that I have, there are members from different cultures
involved. I didnít even know that there was that many. Iíve
noticed a lot of people have spoken about their culture to
another person from a different background. So itís definitely
an advantage. I have not faced any obstacles or difficulties
due to cultural differences of the members of the
GTA: How many members does the group
have? Who can join and how can people
CP: The group is reaching
1,000 members to date. Anyone can join. Itís an open group for
people between the ages of 20 to 30 but the age bracket is not
a strict requirement. People can go online on
www.friends.meetup.com/756, then sign up for
GTA: Other than getting fully involved
with this group, what are your other priorities in life?
CP: Definitely the business that
Iím going into, besides my work of course. The business I have
in mind is definitely something that I know I would be good
at. People have been asking me if Iím an event planner and
Iíve said no, but they suggested that I should pursue event
planning. Iíve had too many people telling me that Iím good
with what I do with the group to not realize my potential. So
Iím definitely going head on and make it a priority to start
my own business.
Christine and the Toronto Meet up Group
will be having a New Yearís party, their 1,000th member party,
as well as a forthcoming trip to the South.
Christineís dedication to the Toronto Meet up Group
kindled by her genuineness and social wits have helped the
group continue to flourish with so many members who have now
gained true friendships through the group, including Christine
herself. She has high hopes and great plans for the group and
can only wish that people out there who tend to think that it
is hard to find new people to build friendships with, can now
have access to starting new friendships, with just a click of
the mouse. With times changing and technology overpowering our
lives, Christineís idea of allowing people to meet through the
easily accessible internet is now our modernized friendship
So this Christmas season, let us not consider
snowstorms or the cold weather as barriers to getting a chance
to meet people. Christine has made friendship as easy as one
mouse click away.
To Christine, we wish the Toronto
Meet up Group continued growth and may you encourage people to
have a shot at friendship, no matter how gloomy the weather is
or how difficult or busy we think our lives may be. After all,
friendship multiplies the good of life and friends will surely
bring the sunshine in. They hug when the spirits sag!