She may be small in stature, but Carmelita Tapia is making a huge difference in everything she does.
Tapia is the latest appointee to the New Westminster police board, and it's a small wonder that Tapia can fit that in with all her other responsibilities.
For the past two years, she's also served as a director on the SD40 Business Company, a school district venture that is running programs in Asia.
Tapia is also the president of the Southeast Asia Canada Business Council, which helps promote business relationships between Canada and Asian countries.
And there's the minor detail of filling orders at Odessa Manufacturing, a Burnaby company Tapia and husband Ed have run for the past 23 years.
The company manufactures industrial filter bags and was based in Burnaby until May, when a fire at an adjacent business forced the company to temporarily move to a New Westminster production facility on 20th Street.
As their Imperial Street location undergoes repairs - with a scheduled reopening later this year - Tapia is making do at their small Royal City location.
"I try and keep busy," said Tapia. "There are so many things I'm involved in, and I really enjoy them."
Ask her about each venture she's involved in and Tapia has an almost photographic memory.
An accountant by trade, Tapia said Odessa's main trade is producing pollution control filters for businesses. Husband Ed oversees much of the production side and she does the books.
The company employed 11 people before the fire, but is now at four, with Tapia hoping to get back up to double digits once they move back to their Burnaby location.
As for her business council responsibilities, Tapia said some of the ventures she's helped shepherd through include a pearl farm, a cocoa sugar farm, a mining venture and even the opening of a Canadian tourism college in the Philippines.
The council tries to foster working relationships between Canadian people or companies, in partnership with companies or governments in the countries of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines.
As if these two jobs aren't enough for Tapia, her volunteer work is almost as impressive.
Because of her business council contacts in Indonesia and Vietnam, she was able to get SD40 Business Company officials an audience in those councils.
"Hopefully, we can set up some programs in those countries," said Tapia.
Several years ago, Tapia was asked to join the Vancouver Police Department's diversity advisory committee. As part of that work, she attended a two-month civilian police academy in Vancouver where she learned to fire a gun, work a speed gun and do a ride-along with Vancouver police officers.
"We even went to a (marijuana) grow-op," said Tapia, who added that because of her diminutive size, riding a police horse through Stanley Park was quite challenging.
"It was a pretty intensive program," she said. "I think it was three times a week at night and then on the weekends too."
And with that introduction to policing, Tapia was a natural choice to fill one of the New Westminster police board vacancies once Karen Foss and Ron Basran finished their terms.
As a 20-year-resident of Queensborough, Tapia can advocate for the area which doesn't always have the biggest voice.
"The area's changing so much," she said. "I live on a big lot, looking out on the water, but all the new developments are going up and with that come some of the issues for police to take care of."
Tapia is looking forward to the proposed community policing office scheduled to open in Queensborough, and she's enjoying her time on police board. firstname.lastname@example.org
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