Cecilia Lee’s unbridled passion for life and generosity of spirit helps her bring rays of hope to the lives of others.
In today’s world, fear and hatred sometimes seem to dominate, and giving of oneself can seem like an extraordinary act of courage. Anyone who is willing to do an act of kindness understands that generosity of spirit, and the desire to help others, elevates and inspires us all. Cecilia Lee, Manager of IA Salon and Creative Director of Fun Bee Park is a woman who knows only too well that giving brings joy, not only to the giver and recipient, but it also helps to make the community a better place. She firmly believes that small acts of giving add up and that you don’t require riches to change someone else’s life, you just need the desire to help another person.
Cecilia has been featured in our local newspapers countless times for her involvement in organising charity initiatives which have raised significant donations to help worthy causes. Amongst them are Dining in the Dark, Raya visits to children at the RIPAS Hospital and other donation drives for local communities. All of this takes time, effort and commitment. So why does this busy business woman and radio host continue to make time for giving to others? Why is this one of her top priorities? In between her hectic schedules we caught up with Cecilia for a chat to find out more about what motivates her to keep on giving to others.
Like a firecracker Cecilia entered the library at Fun Bee Park instantly filling the room with colour, energy and laughter. This petite lady was beautifully attired with flowers adorning her neatly styled hair. As she began to speak it became evident that although slender in size, she is certainly a strong force to be reckoned with. Cecilia confidently told us, “You only have one life to live!” and that’s why she does it her way. She explained that she was born in Ipoh but grew up in Penang. Her father left the family when she was young, so her mother had to work hard to eek out a living to provide for her and her sisters because they did not have much. Of those days she recalled, “Playing on the rubber estate in Penang where we lived; helping to serve coffee and soup and washing up; and helping old aunties to carry their shopping bags.” Growing up as a girl she also felt the sting of a culture which placed greater value on males than females, and this would later on be instrumental in shaping her character.
The young Cecilia was always “weak and sickly” and so could not attend school very often. When she was 11 years old she was admitted to hospital and put into the old people’s ward where she witnessed death first hand. And later on when she had her own daughter, she nearly lost her life. It was seeing death that made her treasure every moment in life and want to give to the sick. Hence the reason she now visits patients at RIPAS to talk and to share small treats. The memories of her struggle to survive in a single parent home also remained etched in her mind and helped to mould the strong principles which she has today that “a mother’s love is unconditional; parents should always take responsibility for their children; and that men and women should be treated as equals.” It is perhaps Cecilia’s knowledge and real understanding of isolation and sadness which continues to propel her to not only live life to the fullest, but to also bring rays of happiness and hope to others.
As Norman Vincent Peale once said, “When you become detached mentally from yourself and concentrate on helping other people with their difficulties, you will be able to cope with your own more effectively. Somehow, the act of self-giving is a personal power-releasing factor.” This quotation is certainly true of Cecilia’s life story. As it would seem that by giving to others, she has found the power and confidence to seize every day and to make the most of every opportunity in her life. Cecilia married her childhood sweetheart who she met when they were 11 years old and has two children who both have successful careers. Her son is a photographer for National Geographic and her daughter works at TEXT 100 Malaysia Sdn Bhd in Kuala Lumpur. This “chilli padi” with the hearty and infectious laugh has walked a long and sometimes arduous road but she is not afraid. She pushes herself to the edge, looks her fears straight in the eye and is always eager to take on a challenge. This trained accountant and certified makeup artist has dived with whale sharks; climbed Mt. Everest and the pyramids; trekked through the villages of Nepal and Tibet; gone hot air ballooning; and has also taken many adventurous road trips through Malaysia on her powerful R6 Yamaha. But that’s not all, Cecilia makes sure that she uses all of her creative talents to the max. She’s an avid photographer whose work was chosen to be featured in the book called “Discover Malaysia” by Chok Yen Hau; she was chosen to do the hair and makeup for Mrs. Hilary Clinton, the former U.S. Secretary of State when she visited Brunei in 2012; every Tuesday she hosts the popular program, “Woman’s Vitamin” for RTB Pilihan Mandarin Radio which addresses relevant and topical issues; and she also has a serious interest in reading and education. The hundreds of books which line the shelves of her library at Fun Bee Park are testament to her passion for learning. Whether in business, hobbies or philanthropy Cecilia chooses causes based on what captivates her and those that will make a positive difference to the lives of others. Her next project will be “Art Walk” and will be a showcase for local artwork (including pieces done by children with special needs) and international cuisine.
Cecilia Lee knows that “Money can’t buy happiness and true love and friendships are what’s most important.” She believes that “life is like a colourful painting” there is no limit to the beauty that can be created. She knows that people may misjudge you – but she will continue to live by the premise, “Never get angry, fight stronger! And if you have a chance to do – do your best; if you have a chance to help – do it!”