ROMEO TIU: VOLUNTEERING FROM THE HEART

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Romeo3.jpegMoney might make the world go-round but in Metuchen it's the volunteers.  Volunteers are part of what makes small-town life lovely (and big-town life feel small).  The first in a regular feature spotlighting the people whose sacrifice helps to define our community; we salute Romeo Tiu.

 

The son of a cardiologist, it's no wonder Romeo has a heart healthy enough to share with many. An ardent supporter of the activities offered to enrich the lives of our children, Romeo leads a few. From early efforts at the University of Pennsylvania where he helped inner city kids learn the gift of giving at the holidays, Romeo is currently Cub Master of Pack 69 Cub Scouts and, in January, will assume the role of President of Metuchen Town Soccer Club (MTSC).

 

"It's a lot of work and responsibility, there's no getting around that" admits Romeo, a Project Manager for United Health Care's provider relations department.  "You must have support from your family.  My wife, Donna, has taken an active role in helping me.  It's really a family effort."  Parents of three, Romeo and Donna would have their hands-full without anything else on their plate.  Hundreds of kids in town are lucky they've chosen to do more.

"I'll be in school or in town and a child will recognize me.  He or she feels connected to me, to the community, and I feel it too.  By volunteering, you are making an impact on your town and in the life of a child.  No matter what a kid has going on at home, on the field he or she is just playing, just a kid.  To help make that happen - it's a great feeling."  It's also enabled him to share his own children's experiences much more closely than from the sidelines.

 

Volunteer efforts in Metuchen began when their oldest, Ted, started Little League.  "My approach has always been to hang-back a bit and see what was involved before assuming a role within an organization" said Romeo.  He was soon helping with field management and began serving as an assistant coach.  Soccer evolved in a similar manner. After a few years as a soccer parent, field crew member, and attending the volunteer meetings to see what the league was all about, he began assistant coaching. Fellow coaches helped further Romeo's interest in the game and he began attending MTSC board meetings.  When the club needed someone to serve as Application Coordinator, Romeo offered to help.  That assignment began his relationships with school administration and communication with families joining the league. 

 

"Participation is often the outcome of someone reaching out and inviting you to join or to help.  Don't underestimate the power of simply asking.  Some people really need that" said Romeo. 

 

Next stop was cub scouts.  A former scout himself, Romeo is still close with the men who were his den-mates in grammar school.  When calls went out for a new Cub Master for Pack 69 at Campbell school, Romeo answered the call.  "It's usually that someone is leaving and no one else wants the job" laughs Romeo.  "With both of our boys in cub scouts at the time, it seemed an important role to take on."  Romeo and Donna assumed jobs previously handled by two different families and under their leadership, enrollment grew and the pack became decidedly more focused on community service.  Romeo and Donna have led Pack 69 for the past 3 ½ years. 

 

In January, Romeo will officially step down as Cub Master for Pack 69 but will continue to serve as assistant cub master to Mike Quinn.  He has also been tapped by the Central New Jersey Boy Scouts Council to serve as Unit Commissioner for a number of local Cub Scout packs. 

 

Romeo's dad was active in hospital and local medical organizations and his mom encouraged well-rounded involvement from him and his three siblings.  Academics, music, sports, swimming, and involvement with a church group were all important.  Romeo and Donna are committed to enriched balance for their children as well.  "Scouting provides physical fitness, creativity, craftsmanship, leadership, citizenship, patriotism and discipline.  Sports teach a child team work, fitness, and the importance of the mechanics of a game" explains Romeo.

 

The Tiu family is involved with the Saint Francis Cathedral Community of Filipino Americans with whom they have participated in days of service to the Cathedral and Simbang Gabi - a culturally centered mass celebrating the Christmas holiday.  "The reason we got involved was to expose our kids to my Filipino culture."  This culture helped form Romeo's dedication to living respectfully.  Born in New Brunswick himself, many of his relatives' immigrated to the United States from the Philippines.  The practice of Mano Po, greeting a family elder by offering your forehead in request of  blessing, is one Romeo and Donna encourage their children to practice with their older relatives.  "It's very important to us that our children are respectful of their elders.  It is also important that we show our children respect."  The Tiu children are known not only as respectful, but as very bright, happy, and talented children. 

 

A big worry in assuming leadership roles within a volunteer organization is dealing with angry or unreasonable people.  "I try to understand what is driving a person, where they're coming from.  It's usually about their kids and easy to understand" said Romeo.  "If you can try to see it from their perspective and look at what's best for the kids, all of the kids involved, the right compromise often becomes clear.  I also work hard at maintaining a strong sense of fairness and propriety.  I never take advantage of my position; I try to make it so that my kids aren't benefiting tremendously from my involvement." 

 

"Volunteering has helped us know our town better, our neighbors better.  I've also gotten to know people in local government and the school administrators" said Romeo.  "I've gotten to learn more about myself too" he said.  "It's been very rewarding."    

 

Thank you Romeo - you too Donna. We appreciate the gifts you've shared with our children. 

5 Comments

Nice article about Romeo and Donna, they are really special folks

As a parent who paid my dues a long time ago, I'm so happy to see this next generation of parents is so dedicated to the kids.

I've worked with Romeo in a few organizations. You can't say enough about that guy - he's devoted, fair, an all-around great guy.

He is great! A real intelligent guy with lots of integrity and caring. His wife Donna works as hard as he does and definitely deserves a shout-out, too!

He must be incredibly busy with everything he does, but he still always has time answer any question we parents may have.

I'm glad the author remembered to thank Donna as well. With a spouse that does as much as Romeo, you know she is picking up the slack and doing more than her share behind the scenes.

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  • Anonymous: Nice article about Romeo and Donna, they are really special read more
  • Anonymous: As a parent who paid my dues a long time read more
  • Anonymous: I've worked with Romeo in a few organizations. You can't read more
  • Jana Siciliano: He is great! A real intelligent guy with lots of read more
  • Anonymous: He must be incredibly busy with everything he does, but read more

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