REALTORS Care® Spotlight: Crystal Hung is Inspiring Vancouver, One Project at a Time

Crystal Hung, a Vancouver-based REALTOR® and broker, knows what it’s like to overcome multiple barriers to success. Today, she makes certain her volunteerism builds bridges and supports struggling community members.

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As a child, Crystal immigrated to Canada from Taiwan with her brother, sister and father. By the time she was 16 her father had returned to Taiwan, leaving herself and her siblings behind. She finished high school while juggling three jobs, finding a bed wherever she could. Those experiences of integrating into Canada as a young child who didn’t know English, and later supporting herself while searching for a roof to keep overhead, left an indelible mark on Hung.

“I can really relate to newcomers on that level through my job and be empathetic towards people when they’re looking for a new home,” said Crystal.

Through hard-work and grit, Crystal was accepted into the University of British Columbia (UBC) and, with three new jobs on campus, she found a haven and a supportive community.

In 2022, when UBC’s Sauder School of Business launched a fundraising campaign to build a new space for learning centered in inclusion, safety, and accessibility, Hung and her husband were one of their first donors; providing a $1 million gift with the hopes that it would inspire other alumni to follow suit.

“UBC was a home for me. If I didn’t have that opportunity, I honestly don’t know where I would be today,” reflected Hung. “I graduated with $800 in my pocket, and I started working in real estate. That bank account is still there. It’s a reminder of where I came from.”

Crystal and her husband stand at a podium talking to a crowd after committing a 1-million-dollar donation. Behind them is a banner that says UBC Sauder.

When the pandemic hit in 2020, Crystal saw the toll that isolation was taking on herself and her loved ones. She looked for a way to raise spirits and help Vancouverites feel more connected to each other, and, as a member of the St. Paul’s Future Leaders Committee, she had the perfect team to do it with. Together with fellow members Leon Ng and Zeeshan Hayat she co-founded the committee’s most daring project to date: Pixel Moments.

This one-of-a-kind art installation in the heart of Vancouver was an augmented reality mosaic that came alive as pedestrians scanned the mural with their phones. Composed of thousands of images submitted by micro-donors from around the world, in two years Crystal’s project raised over $460,000 and communities across North America have reached out to learn how they can utilize this re-envisioned approach to microphilanthropy.

Crystal poses with three other people below the Pixel Moments 2021 mural just after it’s been installed.

At the same time, while working with the Chinese Cultural Preservation Federation Society in Chinatown, Crystal met All Nations Outreach Society founder and Haisla outreach worker, James Harry Senior. Immediately connecting over the shared importance food plays in their cultures, she started to volunteer for their lunch program which provides weekly meals as a way to connect and inspire healing for the at-risk unhoused Indigenous population – an experience that hit home from her time as teenager.

“I can really relate to people in the downtown east side when they don’t have a home. I can say I was homeless for a little bit, but the worst I’ve ever come to was staying in a basement. It’s pretty good compared to what people have these days,” shared Crystal.

Two years, and over 30,000 sandwiches later, Crystal volunteers every Tuesday evening with her husband as a part of a team making lunches. Her schedule the next day is left free of meetings at midday so she can travel to the Downtown Eastside and hand out the lunch bags along with other volunteers.

Hung has also found more ways to support All Nations Outreach Society, raising her hand whenever a call goes out like helping to provide office furniture and using her connections as a REALTOR® to find and pay for professional installation. She’s now helping them look for a secondary program space where they can offer support programs centered in First Nations, Inuit, and Métis cultural practices.

“I always say that unless we heal, we can’t move forward,” said James. “And we hope, we pray, that all the love and all the caring that went into the fundraising, to the prep, that the people that are receiving it feel our love hopefully starts to heal injuries. With people like Crystal, we’re giving these people that we’re feeding, that we’re reaching out to, we’re giving that opportunity.”

Crystal walking on a Downtown Eastside street pulling a red cart for the lunch program. In the background you can see unhoused people and a care tent.

It’s that hope that propels this Canadian REALTORS Care® Award 2023 nominee forward. That’s why, on Wednesdays, you’ll find her at the corner of Hastings and Main, brown bag in hand and a smile on her face and, in the evenings, leading the Icon&co. brokerage to raise millions for even more charities like Kids Help Phone, the YWCA and Junior Achievement with faith that she’ll inspire others to do the same.

“I started in real estate because I saw it as a way to make a small impact as a woman in business,” reflected Crystal. “Even if I can inspire one person, I think it’s worth it.”

REALTORS Care® Spotlight shares stories of how featured nominees of the Canadian REALTORS Care® Award 2023 are working to make their communities a better place for all. Be on the lookout for more inspiring spotlights throughout the year.

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