TLP Volunteers

A different sort of community garden: Cultivating meaningful relationships and connectedness with Holly Chan Yip

By Kristy Inouye 

From the very beginning, the evolution of The Lipstick Project has been characterized by opportunity, resourcefulness, and cultivating relationships. People helping people.

TLP launched in late 2012, with a frozen-yogurt-fuelled gathering in an apartment building’s public space in downtown Vancouver. Both the space and the frozen yogurt contributions were provided through friends, and the event itself was a casual affair attended by 50 to 60 friends and family supporting the original team of five women.

Holly Chan Yip, one of those original five, self-identifies as a “planner.” Interestingly though, she describes her journey with TLP as spontaneous, organic, and driven by instinct. “We’re creating something new, so there’s no proven formula for The Lipstick Project. We go with what we feel and believe is right.”

Holly’s initial role with TLP drew primarily on her background in spa therapy, comprising gathering supplies, recruiting volunteers, and implementing programs. Today, with the team and reach of TLP both greatly expanded, Holly’s role has shifted to focus on community partnerships. Her involvement with the organization has given her the opportunity and confidence to take on new responsibilities. In September, she also looks forward to being back on-site, returning to help Team Lead at the Vancouver Hospice. “Every time we’re there, the patients and their families are always very, very grateful, and also seem surprised or intrigued that such a service exists- and that we’re so young. To be able to inspire and care for others are huge privileges.”

Holly has always loved to help people, and her involvement with TLP is helping in more ways than one. In addition to the impact for patients and their families, she hopes that TLP will be an opportunity for those searching for a way to give back to the community, looking for the right fit. “I think everyone has a desire to give back and to be involved. I hope that TLP can be that ‘good thing’ for people,” she says. “The volunteers are always a source of inspiration for me. They're the heart, hands and feet of what we do. They all have different backgrounds, and are busy people, so for them to step outside of their routines to share their love and talents with others is a beautiful thing."

From what started as group of five women, TLP now has a team of over 30 volunteers. Holly describes TLP’s evolution as a snowball, and looks forward to continued growth not only of TLP, but also of herself, and of the many relationships she has formed along the way. Planning has its benefits, but things also have a way of working out in unexpected ways. For Holly Chan Yip, a dash of serendipity and a pinch of spontaneity have gone a long way.