Mdm Fu Chuan San, BBM (L)
Chairman of Geylang Neighbourhood Committee (NC)
2nd Vice-Chairman of Geylang Serai Citizens’ Consultative Committee (CCC)
Patron of Geylang Serai Community Club Management Committee (CCMC)
Member of South East Community Development Council (SECDC) (Elderly Committee)
“I discovered the biggest satisfaction (is) helping those in need (and) organising events that bring happiness to the community.”
Serving 37 years as a grassroots volunteer has been a challenge for 68 year-old retiree, Mdm Fu Chuan San. But what spurs her on is the smiles on the many happy faces of her residents.
Mdm Fu’s connection with the People’s Association (PA) began as early as 1971, when courses offered by the community centre near her home attracted her. Within months, she was invited to become a committee member of the Aljunied Women’s Executive Committee (WEC).
"I feel blessed with my life, so I want to give something back to society. It was then that I discovered the biggest satisfaction of helping those in need, as well as organising events that bring happiness to the community," says Mdm Fu.
Over the years, Mdm Fu has overseen numerous projects, from large scale family day or sports events which engage more than 1,000 residents, to the more 'intimate' activities that promote intergenerational bonding.
"There is always something new to learn or experience as a grassroot leader if we keep up with the times and implement meaningful projects that meet the needs of different residents," said Mdm Fu.
Mdm Fu observed, "Many are keen to become a grassroot leader or to persevere but very often, their family and work commitments take precedence. My advice is to contribute however and whenever they can, as no contribution is too small."
This year at the National Day Awards, Mdm Fu received the Bintang Bakti Masyarakat – Lintang (BBM-L), or The Public Service Star-Bar for her service.
"I am happy my involvement gets recognised, but my fellow members are the biggest contributors to this award. All I have done was to provide encouragement and be hands-on in our collaborations," says Mdm Fu.
Ms Gamar Abdul Aziz, PBM
Secretary of Tampines West Community Club Management Committee (CCMC) and CC BFC
Assistant Secretary of Tampines West Citizens’ Consultative Committee (CCC)
“I could help people, in small ways, I do what I do because it’s worth doing.”
She may have won an award for her contributions but grassroots volunteer Gamar Abdul Aziz says the thrill is in giving.
Ask grassroots volunteer Gamar Abdul Aziz what she thinks about being awarded the Pingat Bakti Masyarakat (Public Service Medal) and the 37-year-old Singapore Polytechnic lecturer admits that feels surreal to be rewarded for something that she is passionate about.
“I feel proud although I did not expect any formal recognition,” she said. “I do what I do because it's worth doing and doing well. My happiness comes from a job well done”.
The Pingat Bakti Masyarakat (PBM) was instituted in 1973 and is awarded to persons who render commendable public service in Singapore.
But winning awards is not why she signed up as a grassroots volunteer. The thrill is in helping people, said Gamar
“I've always participated in extra curricular activities throughout my school life so after I graduated, I thought to myself that I needed to continue these activities, especially since I really enjoyed working with people”.
After joining a youth group at a nearby community centre, Ms Gamar saw that there was a lot that she could learn and contribute.
“I could help people, in small ways, and small steps can lead to big things. There were also so many opportunities to work in teams,” she remembers.
Fast forward 15 years and her passion is as strong as ever. In her current capacity as Secretary of the Tampines West Community Club Management Committee (CCMC) and member of the Tampines West Citizens' Consultative Committee (CCC), Gamar says she still gets such pleasure meeting people from all walks of life.
She admits that her many duties keep her busy. But there are high points which make the job very fulfilling.
“My members and I got to host over 300 Japanese students at one sitting and that was quite a challenge,” she remembers.
“But we pulled it off, we had a concert for them and we also got every single one of them involved in a game. We also got to talk to many Ministers... once, then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong visited our CC and we asked if he'd spend 15 minutes with us and he readily agreed!”
One thing for sure, and that is, being awarded the PBM is not likely to change much for her.
“My friends know that juggling work, family and grassroots work is who I am. The award does not change that. They're happy for me and proud of me. With or without the award, I'm doing what I can to make things better, in my own way”.
Dr Sayampanathan Selan R.E, PBM
Vice-Chairman of Moulmein CCC
Member of Central Singapore CDC
“There is a very simple sense of satisfaction when you see people having a good time at the events we organise.”
Dr Sayampanathan, 51, wears many hats. On top of his daytime job as an orthopaedic doctor, the family man with three children also holds three grassroots appointments. As a grassroots leader, Dr Sayampanathan organises activities for residents in his neighbourhood to help them get to know one another better.
Dr Sayampanathan even ropes his family into his grassroots work by having them along on the Citizens On Patrol programme, which was initiated by the Moulmein Dunearn Neighbourhood Committee to foster a sense of security in the neighbourhood.
“This might sound ‘politically correct’, but I do think social cohesion is very important. Good neighbours are like family. They are able to render help in times of need,” he said.
For his dedicated service in grassroots work since 1999, Dr Sayampanathan was conferred the Pingat Bakti Masyarakat (The Public Service Medal) recently.
Dr Sayampanathan fondly recalls his most memorable experience in his many years of grassroots service, where he was involved in a project for seniors during SARS in 2003. He noticed that important messages about SARS and its prevention did not reach some dialect-speaking seniors. So, he started a fun and interactive workshop, conducted in dialect, to teach these seniors how to wash their hands, take their temperatures with thermometers and wear masks properly. Given the added vulnerability of seniors to SARS, Dr Sayampanathan was gratified that many workshop participants were able to learn how to protect themselves against the disease.
While Dr Sayampanathan urges young people to be more involved in grassroots work, he stresses that the desire to help others must come from deep inside.
He said, “There is a very simple sense of satisfaction when you see people having a good time at the events we organise, children playing with one another and neighbours talking with one another. It is very sad when they are all stuck in their little homes with their doors locked!”
Chairman of Lam Soon CC YEC
1st Vice-Chairman of the People's Association Youth Movement Central Youth Council
“We need to think of new ways to engage them (youths), get them out of their homes and volunteer with the grassroots.”
A man with passion. Although only 33 years old, Ken Ong Kwee Tiong has been serving in the grassroots for 12 years. He was recently conferred the Public Service Medal or “Pingat Bakti Masyarakat” by President S R Nathan. “Receiving the medal was a great honour and reaffirmed the work that we do on the ground,” said the soft -spoken basketball enthusiast.
As a young man serving his National Service, Ken was introduced to the grassroots work by his father, then a grassroots leader. To overcome his initial fear, he gathered his basketball team-mates to volunteer at the RC together. “Having my friends around me gave me the confidence to step forward,” he recalled fondly. Ken soon found himself serving in the Lam Soon Community Centre (CC) Youth Executive Committee (YEC).
This proved to be the beginning of a beautiful relationship.
Ken is now the Chairman of Lam Soon CC YEC and the 1st Vice-Chairman of the People’s Association Youth Movement Central Youth Council.
“My passion has always been to reach out to youths, to encourage them to speak up,” said Ken with the conviction of a seasoned volunteer. “Nowadays, there are youths who want to volunteer but may not know where and how to start. We need to think of new ways to engage them, get them out of their homes and volunteer with the grassroots. We ourselves need to be “new age” grassroots leaders!”
Tapping on his experience with social media, Ken has spearheaded projects to engage youths through channels such as Facebook, Blogs and Webgames. “We hope that youths can know more about us, better understand what we do, and come volunteer with us.”
Under the patient guidance of senior grassroots leaders such as Tan Soon Hoe, BBM, Chairman of Lam Soon CC Management Committee and Vice-Chairman of Keat Hong Citizens' Consultative Committee, Ken has grown from strength to strength, even mentoring younger grassroots leaders. Credit must also go to his employer who has been very supportive of his volunteering work. A Technical Training Manager, Ken often updates his bosses about his grassroots work. “My employer sees the leadership and project management skills that I’ve picked up and this has in turn helped me in my career advancement.”
Ken’s term of service with the YEC is coming to an end soon. While others may be unsure of what to do next, or where he will serve in, Ken is quietly confident. “No matter where I serve, I will contribute as much as possible”.
Iria Suwandi Teo
Auditor of Cairnhill Women’s Executive Committee
Assistant Secretary of Cairnhill CCMC
“I really enjoyed organising the 4-80 Challenge, it opened me to new possibilities and allowed me to gain invaluable learning experiences,” Iria shared.
Being born and having spent her childhood in Indonesia made a deep impact on Iria’s adult years. It shaped her conviction about the importance of racial harmony, and instilled in her the need for community bonding. In August 2005, this belief coupled with her love and passion in organising community bonding events prompted her to join first, the Cairnhill Youth Executive Committee (YEC), and later, the Cairnhill Women Executive Committee (WEC).
Working selflessly with other volunteers, she regularly organises festive celebrations for residents and charity outings for less fortunate children. She also helps new permanent residents and citizens settle in her community through gatherings and sharing sessions specially organised for them. Recently, she even took on the challenge of being part of the team that organised Singapore’s first ever 4-80 Challenge - a sports event which included a 4km run around Cairnhill and Orchard, and a race up 27 storeys to the top of Far East Plaza Apartment.
“I really enjoyed organising the 4-80 Challenge, it opened me to new possibilities and allowed me to gain invaluable learning experiences,” Iria shared.
However, Iria believes that involvement in community service should not be confined to the hustle and bustle of putting an event together. As a passionate advocate of grassroots activities and volunteerism, she is often heard sharing about upcoming grassroots events and her wonderful learning experiences as a grassroots leader with her colleagues, family and friends.
“I am very fortunate to be able to enjoy these experiences which have made my life so enriching. In my career, I have the opportunity to work with people of different nationalities and understand their unique cultures, whilst in my grassroots involvement I am continually exposed to people from all walks of life. These priceless experiences have made me more appreciative of simple things in life, and they also motivate me to give my humble contribution back to the society” Iria said.
In recognition for her passion as a grassroots volunteer, she was nominated as a finalist in the recent Women’s Integration Network Miss WIN 2008 pageant, an event which honoured female grassroots leaders who stood out for their passion in community service, and their ability in maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
“As a young working professional, I know it can be difficult to spend our precious leisure time on volunteer work and I can fully understand the challenges women today face in joining grassroots organisation. In the years to come, I hope to continue to bridge the platform for women to come forward to share, learn and experience the joy of being a volunteer,” Iria concluded.
Like Iria, there are many opportunities waiting for you in our grassroots organisations. To find out how you can play a part, contact your Neighbourhood Committee or Residents’ Committee or Community Club today.
Marc Lim Kah Leong
Vice-Chairman of Kampong Glam YEC
Assistant Secretary of Kampong Glam CCMC
“Many young people in Singapore are given opportunities to excel in their studies and in their careers, I was one of the fortunate ones to receive excellent avenues to excel in both what I liked and what I was good at”
Every minute, hundreds of new lives are born into this world. Every year, thousands of fresh-faced graduates join the working force to contribute to our global economy. Of these, how many actually choose to serve the communities they grew up in?
“Many young people in Singapore are given opportunities to excel in their studies and in their careers, I was one of the fortunate ones to receive excellent avenues to excel in both what I liked and what I was good at,” Marc shared, “When I returned from my undergraduate studies a few years ago, I found I had a strong desire to ‘give’ something back to society. This, together with my interest in working with youths for their energy, creativity and potential, prompted me to join the Telok Ayer Hong Lim Green Youth Executive Committee (YEC) when the opportunity came, and I have never looked back.”
Beginning with organising activities for youths and working with them to put up events for the community, Marc went on to be a mentor under the YEC youth mentoring scheme. Working with two groups of promising youths – one group of seven service leaders from Hwa Chong Institution (HCI) and one group of six scholars from China (PRC) – he guides them in participating and organising community service activities.
“Though they are young, they have a ‘heart’ for the less fortunate and constantly brim with ideas to help. As a youth mentor, I want to play a part in cultivating the next generation of community service leaders in Singapore, I want to help groom young people who have not just the passion, but also the ability, to serve,” Marc added.
Currently, Marc is assisting the six PRC scholars in organising various activities for the community, one of which was a recently concluded trip for 20 underprivileged children from Wesley Youth Centre. He is also working with seven HCI service leaders in planning a Christmas party for under-privileged families living in the Kelantan Road estate. For both groups of youths, he not only gives them pointers in arranging their events, he also guides them in working with partners to make their events successful. For example, he mentors the HCI service leaders in partnering Food from the Heart, a local charity which distributes free bread to needy households, in their year-end Christmas celebration.
Besides these community projects, Marc also actively ropes his mentees in for grassroots activities organised by his Community Club. He believes that multi-ethnic celebrations such as the Dumpling Festival will not only give them more opportunities to interact with people from all walks of life and experience a sense of community bonding, they will also allow them to see first-hand how the Community Club reaches out to the residents.
“By mentoring these brilliant young leaders, I hope to expose and develop them so that they will not only become cognisant of the needs of their communities, but also develop the skills and knowledge to serve them well,” Marc concluded.
Like Marc, you too can reach out to a special group in your community and do something meaningful. Just as every little drop contributes to an ocean, every effort goes a long way in making a difference to your community. To find out how you can play a part, contact your Neighbourhood Committee or Residents’ Committee or Community Club today.
Tang Wey Lin
Chairman of the Serangoon Youth Executive Committee
Member of Serangoon CCC, CSC, C2E, CCMC
“Our youths will be the leaders of tomorrow. We need to continuously expose them to in-depth interaction and discussions with our policy makers”
New policies, new laws or even new rules invariably attract two responses – enthusiastic commendation and vehement criticism. Whether people are in the know or on the sidelines, they feel a need to share their thoughts and make their thoughts known. But how many are truly aware of the work undertaken to shape a new policy, law or rule?
Wey Lin is one of the many youth leaders in Singapore who felt that people, especially the young, should know how policies are shaped. He believes that youths should understand the policies that influence their lives and be part of the policy making process by posing their views and feedback on government policies.
“The fast-paced ever-changing borderless world we live in today makes it imperative for our youths to be aware of government policies so that they can understand clearly the concept of magnanimity versus self-interest and be mindful of the need for far-sightedness and rational thinking,” Wey Lin shared.
To cultivate such awareness among youths in Singapore, Wey Lin leads a team of like-minded youths in organising and participating in the People’s Association Youth Movement (PAYM) Policy Forums. Such Forums involve the youths in policy making and engage them in understanding the thought process behind policies. The Serangoon Youth Executive Committee - an organisation he helms - has spear-headed two constituency level Forums in 2007, with the second focusing on the rising cost of living. More are being planned.
“These Forums benefit not just the youths, but the policy-makers as well. The close sharing of ideas and feedback at the Forums allow them to understand the various trade-offs needed in making decisions, and appreciate the effect of such decisions on society as a whole,” he said.
Wey Lin believes that as Singapore continues to progress and her economy develops in greater depth and complexity, such Policy Forums will become increasingly important to youths.
“Our youths will be the leaders of tomorrow. We need to continuously expose them to in-depth interaction and discussions with our policy makers and thinkers so that they can assume the reins of our nation in due time and steer Singapore towards continued growth,” Wey Lin added.
Like Wey Lin, you too can play a part in shaping the future of Singapore. Whether you wish to contribute in a grassroots organisation like Wey Lin, or add a spark to the social life of your community, it is never too late to start. To find out how you can make a difference, contact your Neighbourhood Committee or Residents’ Committee or Community Club today.
Amatul Jameel Suhani Binte Sujari, PBM
Chairman of Mountbatten Malay Activity Executive Committee
Vice-Chairman of Dakota (Mountbatten) RC
Secretary of Mountbatten CCMC and CC BFC
Member of Mountbatten CCC and South East CDC
“As a teacher by profession, I strongly believe in the power of education and I feel that if the foreigners, the elderly, or anyone who wish to learn, had a chance to be more exposed to good English”
Imagine living in a place where most of the conversation swirls around you in a language you barely understand. Imagine being in a community where you can hardly communicate with its people, except using hand gestures. Such a scenario is not common, but a situation that Suhani has witnessed countless times.
“English has become such a common language in our daily communication that many people take it for granted, but very sadly there are still people amongst us who did not have much opportunity to learn it and are thus not able to keep up with the rest of society,” she shared.
As a long-time resident of the Mountbatten estate, Suhani has seen a steady growth in the number of foreign domestic helpers and Permanent Residents in her community. These people inject their culture and add diversity to the life of the estate but more often than not their inability to communicate effectively in English has resulted in frustration for the speakers.
To add to this brewing pot of communication difficulties, Suhani has seen a growing chasm between the young and the elderly as English takes a hold on the young and their mother tongue takes a back seat.
“As a teacher by profession, I strongly believe in the power of education and I feel that if the foreigners, the elderly, or anyone who wish to learn, had a chance to be more exposed to good English, many of our communication problems can be overcome,” Suhani added.
With that conviction, she registered as a trainer with the People’s Association (PA) and began conducting free conversational English courses for residents in Mountbatten. Within a short time, many locals and foreigners were attracted to her English programme. More heartening for her was to see their confidence in speaking the language gradually increase.
Besides imparting language skills during her English lessons, Suhani also uses the opportunity to encourage them to participate in events organised by other grassroots organisations. She believes this will open them to greater avenues for interaction and allow them to bond with other residents.
“Communication is a very important avenue to help a community grow. Over the years, I’ve seen more people coming forward for grassroots activities and this year I’m proud to note that active participation in Mountbatten has allowed us to win the four-star grading in the PA Awards 2008. In the years to come, I hope the momentum we’ve built up can be continued and more people will be motivated to contribute to the community,” Suhani, who is also the Mountbatten MAEC Chairman, concluded.
Like Suhani, there is so much you can do for your community. To find out how you can contribute, contact your Neighbourhood Committee or Residents’ Committee or Community Club today.
Vice-Chairman of Lam Soon CC Youth Executive Committee
Member of Keat Hong CCC
"I really enjoy working with youths. They show me just how much can be achieved if someone takes an interest in them."
Inspired as early as age 13 by stories of overseas volunteers, Cindy explored volunteering opportunities online and found a match with the South West Community Development Council (CDC) in (WHICH YEAR).
She became their Environment Ambassador to campaign toilet cleanliness and public health matters, and Racial Harmony Ambassador to help engage the public on culture and racial harmony. She then discovered the Youth Executive Committee (YEC) and the National Youth Council (NYC), and was attracted to their many volunteering opportunities in sports, environmental campaigns and other youth activities. As a member of the YEC, Cindy organised large-scale activities such as ‘Countdown 2007 @ the Heartlands’ and a first of its kind constituency-level recycling programme.
Being actively involved in the Cindy’s involvement in the YEC, Cindy represented the exposed her to the activities of the People’s Association Youth Movement (PAYM). In 2007, she represented PAYM and Singapore in the ASEAN Youth Caucus in 2007, where her team made a presentation to raised issues and presented solutions to ASEAN Ministers at the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Youths.. That same year, she joined other young Asian leaders at the PAYM-SYF Asian Youth Leaders Forum to discuss ways youths could help raise standards of corporate social responsibility in Asia. In 2008 – through her involvement in the National Youth Council - she took part in the China-ASEAN Youth Camp in Nanning, China to discuss issues about youth volunteerism.
“Youth exchanges are an excellent platform for youths to learn first-hand the issues facing Asia and the world, and to forge alliances with youths from other parts of Asia,” Cindy shared, “I am always motivated to do even more for society after attending these exchanges.”
Despite her involvement on the regional stage, Cindy continues to help youths around her. Once a week, she volunteers as a tutor at Lam Soon Community Centre and helps children from needy families with their studies. In addition, she mentors a group of seven students from Jurong Secondary School and engages them in leadership training.
“I really enjoy working with youths. They show me just how much can be achieved if someone takes an interest in them. I hope I can continue working with them. I want to show them the vast opportunities awaiting them in the world, help them reach their fullest potential and enable them to live their lives to the maximum,” Cindy concluded.
Have you got a passion like Cindy? To find out more about volunteering opportunities and how you can play a part, contact your Neighbourhood Committee or Residents’ Committee or Community Club today.
Leon Luai Hong Kheng, PBM
Vice-Chairman of Aljunied-Hougang Citizens’ Consultative Committee
Member of Central Singapore Community Development Council
Member of Kaki Bukit CCMC
“We will look for ways to help the unemployed succeed. We always tell them ‘never give up, we will stand with you, and walk every mile with you.”
Having been in the healthcare industry for more than 13 years, Leon is well aware of the difficulties one faces when stricken with chronic illnesses and, saddled with bills. In early 2007, Leon found out through grassroots discussions and home visits that many senior residents from the lower socio-economic group had poor access to medical care.
Together with his team of other volunteers in the Aljunied-Hougang, he established the Community Health Watch Group programme in August 2007. They partnered Changi General Hospital to train a group of volunteers as Community Health Ambassadors to monitor the health of senior residents within their community. They also organised a series of health screening and health talks, in both English and Mandarin, to raise awareness of various health issues. Senior citizens who were found to be suffering from any health issues were put under the care of the Community Health Ambassadors.
“Our Ambassadors carried out informal interactions to encourage seniors to follow-up with their medical care. They reminded them through phone calls or home visits, and invited them to participate in exercises such as Taichi and Qigong. Residents who needed financial assistance were referred to the appropriate government agencies. We felt that these were important to ensure timely medical attention is given and that no one is left out,” Leon shared.
Besides seniors, Leon also helped another group in his community, the chronically unemployed and the home-makers, who needed employment. He set up the Work Care Agents programme in March 2007 to recruit community leaders as Work Care Agents to facilitate these two groups gain part-time or full-time employment in the Aljunied neighbourhood. To help them secure jobs, these Agents set up interviews, confirmed work details, accompanied those under their care to work on the designated date and time, and provided assistance to help them transit into their new jobs.
“Many of those who joined our programme had not worked for a long time and needed constant positive reminders that they were able to succeed. Other than following-up with them regularly, our Agents also offer counseling, assist them in problem solving, and link them with appropriate government agencies for training and re-training,” Leon added.
While it is not easy to ensure perfect job matches, Leon has seen the programme opening many doors. He said, “We will look for ways to help the unemployed succeed. We always tell them ‘never give up, we will stand with you, and walk every mile with you’.”
Like Leon, there are many avenues for you to contribute to your community. Whether you choose to lend a helping hand to the needy or help organise social events to build up community life, volunteering in the grassroots can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience. To find out how you can play a part, contact your Neighbourhood Committee or Residents’ Committee or Community Club today.
Gopala Krishnan, BBM
Vice-Chairman of Fengshan Citizens’ Consultative Committee
Immediate Past Chairman of Fengshan Simpang Bedok NC
Member of Fengshan CC BFC and IAEC
"My involvement in my community has allowed me to learn the practices, likes and dislikes of each race. It has also given me the opportunity to bridge differences that arise from time to time."
While walking his dog around his estate one evening, Gopal noticed two men struggling to hang a banner. Offering his help, he discovered that they were members of the estate’s Residents’ Committee (RC). Curiosity led him to join in their weekly gatherings. Soon after, he was asked to head the newly-formed Fengshan Area Sub-committee. It has been 12 years since that day, and his involvement in community service continues to grow year after year.
Although he starting with organising festivals and social events, he soon went on to head his estate’s upgrading project in 2004. Working with government agencies like the Ministry of National Development, he helped brainstorm and implement plans for parks, sports facilities, pedestrian pavements, and other supporting infrastructure to improve the living standard within the estate. He also organised dialogues with residents to explain future plans and gather feedback.
“The estate upgrading project brought residents together in a way that no other project could. Residents shared their concerns and hopes for the estate as well as contributed generously their time and efforts to ensure the full potential of the entire estate was brought forth,” Gopal shared.
One of Gopal’s most successful projects was the Community Quiz. Held initially within the Fengshan estate, students were invited to participate in inter-school quizzes on Singapore’s history and the importance of racial harmony. The Community Quiz was so well-received, it is now held annually in the East Coast GRC.
“Racial harmony and community bonding are very important in any society. It is even more so in Singapore, given the many different races and nationalities that live together in every estate. For myself, my involvement in my community has allowed me to learn the practices, likes and dislikes of each race. It has also given me the opportunity to bridge differences that arise from time to time,” Gopal added.
Gopal’s role as a “bridge” in his community sometimes call on him to mediate among neighbours to work out misunderstandings. While not all issues can be resolved, Gopal tries to cool tempers down and when formerly hostile neighbours come together at social events, Gopal feels a great sense of satisfaction.
Like Gopal, being involved in your community can be a fulfilling and rewarding experience. To find out how you can play a part, contact your Neighbourhood Committee or Residents’ Committee or Community Club today.
Cheong Khim Teck, JP, BBM (L)
Honorary Chairman of Marsiling Citizens’ Consultative Committee
“In my 25 years of grassroots work, I’m glad to have been given the opportunity to learn and grow with the community."
Terrorists can strike anytime and anywhere, destroying lives, property, social stability, trust and harmony. The arrests of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) members in 2001 and 2002 made us realize that Singapore was not immune to such attacks.
Recognising this, Cheong Khim Teck pooled resources from various grassroots organisations in Marsiling to form the Community Engagement Programme (CEP) group to prepare Singaporeans to be psychologically and socially resilient in the face of terrorist incidents.
“Terrorism is everyone’s problem; each of us has a part play to prevent it and help cope with the consequences should such an attack occur,” said Khim Teck. The Marsiling CEP group engaged various religious groups and organised regular community visits to mosques, churches and temples to give residents a better understanding of the customs and practices of the different religions.
“The visits to the various places of worship were an important platform for us to foster closer bonds among residents. I believe this would help us ride out any racial issues together as a community,” Khim Teck shared.
To forge greater inroads within the community, he led the CEP group in promoting civic mindedness among residents. Tea sessions and training courses were organised for Permanent Residents and new citizens to integrate them into the Marsiling community. The CEP group also worked closely with the Singapore Civil Defence Force and the Neighbourhood Police Centre to educate and train residents on fire drills, preventing fire hazards and emergency exercises.
Khim Teck also partnered the CEP group and various grassroots groups to look into the special needs of the community. He organised,counseling and motivational talks for delinquent juveniles through the Community Safety & Security Programme.
“In my 25 years of grassroots work, I’m glad to have been given the opportunity to learn and grow with the community. In particular, my involvement with the CEP group has given me an excellent avenue to serve the residents better, and it has enriched my life with many rewarding and satisfying experiences.” Khim Teck concluded, “In the years to come, I hope to be able to involve even more Marsiling residents in grassroots work so that we can grow as a community and be able to weather any storms that may come our way.”
Like Khim Teck, you too can enjoy many rewarding experiences by contributing to the well-being of your community. To find out how you can play a part, contact your Neighbourhood Committee or Residents’ Committee or Community Club today.
Chairman, Eunos Crescent Residents’ Committee
Member of Geylang Serai CCC and C2E
"The bonding, the happiness people get when we help them and the joy they experience when they enjoy what we've done for them – this, I feel is the true joy of grassroots work and is something that can never be quantified by money or awards."
“How to squeeze more time out of each day?” – this often heard phrase among time-pressed Singaporeans is an issue Lawrence has to grapple with all the time. As a grassroots leader in a mature estate, he has to juggle work and family commitments, plan activities for his community, rally volunteers, and, most importantly, attend to residents’ queries and concerns.
“Like most Residents’ Committees in Singapore, my members are volunteers with day jobs and we usually open the Residents’ Committee (RC) Centre for residents every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8pm to 10.30pm. This arrangement is not ideal as there are many residents who need assistance outside these hours and there are others who are unable to come to the Centre when we are open.”, Lawrence said.
To address this concern, Lawrence and his team tapped on the Internet. They saw the wide use of internet among fellow residents as an excellent way to increase community interaction, so they launched RC Online in June 2008. With this online portal, residents can now browse the various RC activities at their leisure, as well as use the email and MSN Messenger channels to seek assistance anytime anywhere.
“I try to be online as often as I can, sometimes until two in the morning, so that residents can chat with me via MSN Messenger. If I’m not online, residents can send me email which I clear everyday unless I’m on a business trip,” Lawrence said, “I’ve answered queries and feedback ranging from complaints about stray cats making irritating noises at void deck to disputes among neighbours and requests for help from needy families.”
The enthusiastic response to RC Online has been a greatly appreciated pat-on-the-back for Lawrence and his team. According to him, residents who chat online are usually more open to discussion and feedback, and this in turn has brought them closer together as a community.
“The bonding, the happiness people get when we help them and the joy they experience when they enjoy what we’ve done for them – this, I feel is the true joy of grassroots work and is something that can never be quantified by money or awards,” Lawrence added.
Do you have an idea or a project you can share with your community? Like Lawrence, you can play a part for the community you live in. To find out how you can contribute, contact your Neighbourhood Committee or Residents’ Committee or Community Club today.
Goh Peng Hong
Vice-Chairman of Sembawang Citizens’ Consultative Committee, C2E and CC BFC
Vice-Chairman of Sembawang Zone H Residents’ Committee
Member of North West CDC
"Though we may not reach everyone in our outreach efforts, at least we try to reach out to those who really need help. Through this, we show them that there are people who care about them. Our next challenge is to engage and reach out to our physically challenged residents so that they feel that they are a part of the community too."
When problems happen at home or when misunderstandings occur among neighbours, the people in such situations often need a beacon to guide them to safe waters. This is something Peng Hong fully understands, having walked the mile with many residents in his community.
A Claims Manager by profession, he believes that anyone can lend a helping hand and that any contribution, no matter how small, can go a long way to make a difference to someone in the community. Today, his contact number is found on every Residents' Committee notice board within his constituency so that residents can contact him easily whenever they need help or have any queries.
Of the many calls he received, he remembers receiving an SMS from a distressed resident whose family's funeral service was the target of complaints. He called the relevant Agencies to find out more and visited the family to share his findings. The bereaved family then took the initiative and pasted notes at the affected blocks to apologise for the inconvenience caused, thereby restoring goodwill in the community.
Another call he remembers vividly was from a resident who spotted a fire at the power service column in one of the blocks under his care. On receiving the call, he rushed to the scene to help manage the situation with the Police, Civil Defence and Town Council. Fortunately the fire was quickly put out and his team was able to update the affected residents promptly on the restoration of their power supply.
Besides helping others, Peng Hong also finds immense joy in interacting with residents in his community. Apart from organising and taking part in communal activities like brisk walking, block parties, festive dinners and educational tours, he enjoys conducting house visits.
“It's during these visits that my team and I can reach out to fellow residents, especially those in need but do not know how to seek assistance,” he said.
During these visits, his team looks into the welfare of fellow residents, as well as explains government financial "goodies" and “top-ups” to those who are unaware of such schemes and advises them on how to sign up for these benefits. During the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Bird Flu and Dengue Fever periods, Peng Hong and his team also made numerous home visits to share about the dangers of these diseases, the ways to avoid them and the places to seek help when the need arose.
“Though we may not reach everyone in our outreach efforts, at least we try to reach out to those who really need help. Through this, we show them that there are people who care about them. Our next challenge is to engage and reach out to our physically challenged residents so that they feel that they are a part of the community too,'' he shared.
Like Peng Hong, there are so many areas you can play a part in your community. To find out more, contact your Neighbourhood Committee or Residents' Committee or Community Club today.
Dr Kee Wei Heong, JP, PBM
Chairman of Bukit Gombak Citizens’ Consultative Committee
"Many HDB residents need help in coping with rising living costs, but not many private estate residents are aware of their problems. To bridge the disparity between these two groups, we invited private estate residents to participate in the Welfare Group and do their part for the community."
A united and loving family is one of the greatest assets anyone can have; it provides a sense of belonging and spurs a person to be loving, generous and compassionate to others around him. Over the past ten years, this age-old adage has taken root in the Bukit Gombak constituency and has brought forth fruits of labour that every resident can take pride in.
This constituency, one of the few in Singapore which consists of mostly private estate residents, has seen the number of Neighbourhood Committees (NCs) mushroom from zero to five, and has witnessed a rapid increase in the number of active grassroots volunteers. However, this was not always the case.
“In the early years, it was very difficult to garner support for grassroots activities. People in the private estates were indifferent to voluntary activities, and our constituency's many boundary changes resulted in several changes in the composition of our residents,” Wei Heong said. “My team and I had to update our strategies frequently and devise new ideas to keep abreast of the changes.”
To attract private estate residents to grassroots activities, Wei Heong and his team organised activities which dealt with issues close to their hearts. These included seminars and talks on estate management and maintenance which saw residents turning out in droves. From the enthusiastic response received, his team moved next to organise neighbourhood parties and the annual Residents' Day to bring residents together. They also helped residents form NCs to look into the welfare of their fellow residents.
Despite the challenges Wei Heong faced in drawing out private estate residents, he never forgot the needs of those who stayed in HDB estates. He helped organise communal activities and set up Residents' Committees to forge greater community bonding. He also assisted in founding the Bukit Gombak Welfare Group to befriend and look into needs of the underprivileged.
“Many HDB residents need help in coping with rising living costs, but not many private estate residents are aware of their problems. To bridge the disparity between these two groups, we invited private estate residents to participate in the Welfare Group and do their part for the community,” Wei Heong shared.
Today, the Welfare Group is made up of many active private estate residents who regularly screen new cases, provide fortnightly food rations to needy residents and tirelessly follow-up with those within their care.
“It is not easy to achieve a cohesive community. Besides looking into our fellow residents' immediate physical needs, we need to constantly remind them we live in a unique society made up of many different races, religions and nationalities. We need to instill in them the need to learn to live together and accept one another so as to build a better home for everyone,” Wei Heong added.
Like Wei Heong, there are many areas where you can play a part. Regardless of the time you can spend or the area you can contribute in, your efforts will definitely impact someone in your community. To find out how you can help, contact your Residents' Committee, Neighbourhood Committee or Community Club today.
Maryam Andy, PBM
Treasurer of Bedok Women’s Executive Committee
Member of Citizens’ Consultative Committee
"When we look out for the needs of people, this makes them feel special and it creates in them a feeling of being part of a large family; and this in turn makes them look forward to more activities to come"
“Whatever we do, it must come from our heart,” declared Maryam, an active lady of 66 with the energy and drive of a person half her age. Unlike many women of her time, Maryam believes wholeheartedly in playing an active role in the community. As a young mother in Kampong Kapor back in the 1970s, she was never far from the life of the Community Club (CC).
With two little sons in tow, she attended the CC’s cooking and sewing classes, and participated in the Women Sub-Committee (WSC). The older children at the CC played with and helped look after her children while she was at her classes and meetings. In every activity she participated in or organised, she brimmed with vigour and enthusiasm. Soon, her talents were recognised and she became the first Malay Chairman of the WSC where she led by example in giving her all for the community.
“We have to be passionate in what we do, then we can interest people to join and share our dream,” Maryam shared. From Kampong Kapor, this fervour made inroads in Bedok when Maryam moved there with her family in 1979. Living within walking distance of the CC, she participated first in the Bedok Women’s Executive Committee (WEC), then in the CC Management Committee (CCMC) and Citizens’ Consultative Committee.
Taking the lead in a number of community projects, she spearheaded social activities such as Family Day, Sandwich-making Competition, Healthy Snacks Competition, Baby Shows, Supermum contest, visits to Homes for the Elderly, and enrichment courses that run the gamut from table manners, bottle gardening, personal grooming to prevention of blindness.
In each of these projects, she rallied the Chinese, Malays, Indians and the other races to take part, and made it a point to ensure they were comfortable participating in them. Within a short time, she became known as a gracious and adaptable lady with an indomitable spirit for encouraging volunteerism and an inexorable concern for the needs of the different races.
“When we look out for the needs of people, this makes them feel special and it creates in them a feeling of being part of a large family; and this in turn makes them look forward to more activities to come,” Maryam added.
In 2005, Maryam stepped down as the Chairman of the Bedok WEC after 35 years of voluntary work as she believes in giving younger women a chance to test their ideas and be in the lead. However, she continues to play an active role as the Treasurer of the Bedok WEC. Likening herself to a bridge that has weathered with time, she uses her immense experience to encourage women to participate in grassroots activities and she never ceases to contribute new ideas for community projects.
“My goal is to stay relevant and to serve as long as I can,” she said.
Like Maryam, there are many areas you can play a part in your community. To find out how you can contribute, contact your Neighbourhood Committee or Residents’ Committee or Community Club today.
Mr Foo Fook Jee, PBM
Grassroots Senior of Sembawang Seniors Citizens’ Executive Committee
“Volunteering has always been my passion. I love to help people and will continue to do so regardless of how old I am.”
At the age of 79, Mr Foo Fook Jee, PBM, a retiree and the Chairman of Sembawang Senior Citizens’ Executive Committee, received the Singapore Award for “Unsung Heroes” of Singapore 2008 early this year. He is the oldest of five award winners selected from more than 45 nominations by civic, voluntary welfare, and grassroots organisations (GROs), and individuals. The awards aim to recognise outstanding individuals who have helped or contributed to the community without seeking personal fame or glory.
Mr Foo has a big heart and passion to help those in need, and for the last 45 years has actively engaged seniors in the course of grassroots work. He initiated the Sembawang Community Club (CC) Archery Interest Group in June 2000, as he hoped to promote active living among seniors in the Sembawang Constituency through archery. It was then the first Archery Club in northern Singapore to be formed by a CC.
He also encourages seniors to take up swimming as a leisure activity, and personally coaches them. He started a swimming club 12 years ago, and a Dragon Boat Interest Group this year. He leads a team of 20 seniors to train twice a month at Seletar Reservoir and plans to represent Sembawang CC in various competitions, including the annual Singapore River Regatta 2008.
Mr Foo firmly believes that there is no age limit in doing sports and that being actively involved in sporting activities is a great way to keep fit and healthy. Seniors can also expand their social network through sporting activities.
“Volunteering has always been my passion. I love to help people and will continue to do so regardless of how old I am,” said Mr Foo. You too can also do your bit for your community no matter how young or old your are. Contact your Community Club to get started now!
Dr Ernest Kan, PBM
Member of North East CDC
Immediate Past Chairman of Punggol North Citizens’ Consultative Committee
Auditor of Punggol 21 BFC
"Seeing the projects we worked on come into reality makes me feel all the hard work and time spent is worth our while as it helps to create a better living environment for everyone."
People who know Ernest will say he is one of the busiest people around. An Accountant by profession and a Partner in an international accounting firm, his time is split between his job which requires him to travel extensively and his family where he is the father of three children. But this has not stopped him from going the extra mile for his community.
“Being able to do something that impacts positively on people's lives is a very rewarding and enriching experience, it is a path that I have taken without initially knowing how it will affect others, until I actually got immensely involved and committed,” Ernest said.
The opportunity to contribute came in 2002 when he joined, first the Punggol North Citizens' Consultative Committee (CCC), then the North East Community Development Council (CDC).
In 2006, the opportunity to contribute further knocked on his doors. At the initiative of the Adviser to Tampines Grassroots Organisations, Mr Mah Bow Tan, the Punggol North Town Development Task Force was set up to look into issues such as traffic congestion, flooding in HDB blocks, pedestrian facilities and road signs.
Working with a team of selfless people, Ernest brainstormed and pored over plans to develop essential amenities, parks, bus stops, sheltered walkways, schools, community clubs and markets.
“A lot of effort and man hours are needed to develop a town like Punggol. We have to secure funding, for example, by organising the Punggol North CCC Nation Building Fund Concert, meet design consultants and co-ordinate with contractors. Even today, these works are still ongoing,” Ernest added. Despite the long hours and immense effort required in contributing to the Punggol North community, Ernest never once considered giving up his work in the CCC, CDC, and Town Development Task Force.
“Seeing the projects we worked on come into reality makes me feel all the hard work and time spent is worth our while as it helps to create a better living environment for everyone,” Ernest concluded.
Like Ernest, you too can play a role in improving your neighbourhood and creating environments that can be enjoyed by all. To find out how you can contribute, contact your Neighbourhood or Residents' Committee today.
Roy Cheng Siew Cherng, PBM
Vice-Chairman of Toa Payoh East CCC
Member of Toa Payoh East CC BFC
Member of Bishan North Citizens’ Consultative Committee
"It is not easy to instill the importance of emergency preparedness as not many people feel this is a vital aspect of their lives. But I believe, with constant encouragement and perseverance, more people will understand the need and participate more readily in this programme."
In a well-provided city like Singapore where lights come on at the touch of a switch and water flows at the turn of the tap, it is easy to be complacent and to take things for granted. For Roy , this realisation dawned on him when Singapore experienced a major black-out in 2004.
“Many families were totally unprepared and some didn't even own a torch,” Roy recalled. “There were many calls for help as some were trapped at home or had problems getting home.”
The incident made Roy, an active grassroots leader, sit up. He realised that if things continued in this manner, people's lives would be affected should a crisis occur.
“In Singapore , we live in a very safe environment. We don't have natural disasters like earthquakes or hurricanes, so many Singaporeans do not have the experience of being in an emergency situation,” Roy said.
Armed with a deep-seated conviction for the need of emergency preparedness, Roy worked with various organisations to prepare them with first-aid and fire fighting skills. He also roped in various grassroots organisations in his constituency to spread the importance of emergency preparedness.
“By working with grassroots organisations, we are able to reach the target audience effectively, and provide training centred around the community. This way, residents are not only trained for emergencies but also able to build bonds with the people they live with,” he added.
Besides equipping residents with the skills they need to handle an emergency, Roy and his team also reminded them to keep important personal documents properly and the amount of rations to store so that they will be well-provided for during emergency.
“It is not easy to instill the importance of emergency preparedness as not many people feel this is a vital aspect of their lives. But I believe, with constant encouragement and perseverance, more people will understand the need and participate more readily in this programme,” said Roy .
Like Roy , you can play a part in starting programmes that can improve your community. Contact your Neighbourhood or Residents' Committee to find out how you can get started.
Yee Yoke Lan, PBM
Member of Ulu Pandan Women's Executive Committee
“I always have so much fun interacting with my fellow residents and helping out at these grassroots events that I'm constantly on the lookout for the next one to come.”
“Behind every successful man is a woman, and behind every successful woman is a man,” Yoke Lan quipped at the Mrs Women's Integration Network (WIN) pageant when asked what made a successful woman.
Vivacious and ever ready with a warm smile, Yoke Lan is a prime example of a woman who managed to balance work and play, and even devoted time to voluntary grassroots activity. Her passion for life was brought to the fore and saw her win top honours at the recent Mrs WIN pageant, which was held to recognise women who wear multiple hats as homemakers, employees and active volunteers.
“I could not have done this without the firm support of my husband and two daughters who gave me the space and freedom to pursue my interest in grassroots activities. Since my teenage years, I had always wanted to volunteer in some way, I was very happy when my ex-Principal recognised my interest and introduced me to the Women's Executive Committee,” explained Yoke Lan.
In her early years as a volunteer, she saw how much residents in her constituency enjoyed singing. She sourced for a professional singing teacher, set up singing classes and even organised concerts that showcased the talents of people in the community. Spurred on by the positive responses and the joy in giving, Yoke Lan volunteered to be the emcee at her constituency's numerous dinners and festive celebrations, an activity she continues till today.
“I always have so much fun interacting with my fellow residents and helping out at these grassroots events that I'm constantly on the lookout for the next one to come,” Yoke Lan shared.
Indeed her enthusiasm and passion for grassroots activities knows no bounds. Besides her involvement in grassroots events, she helped raise funds for the rebuilding of the Ulu Pandan Community Club, and is also part of her constituency's Qigong 18 Movement Group. A member for more than 20 years, she is currently one of the instructors too. She meets fellow members six days a week for Qigong practices, as well as helps plan excursions and training sessions with Qigong 18 Movement Groups from other constituencies.
“I believe exercise becomes increasingly important as a person ages. In the near future, when the Ulu Pandan Wellness Centre is in operation, I hope to attract and encourage more senior citizens to make exercise a part of their lives so that many more can enjoy their golden years, free from the burdens of illness and mobility problems,” she said.
Like Yoke Lan, do you have an interest you can share with your fellow residents? To find out how you can contribute to your community, contact your Residents' Committee, Neighbourhood Committee or Community Club today. The Women's Integrated Network organises activities for women and honours outstanding achievements of members of Singapore 's Women Executive Committee.
Tan Kin Teo, BBM
Member of Hong Kah North Citizens' Consultative Committee, CCMC
Secretary of Hong Kah North CC BFC
Vice-Chairman of Hong Kah North Zone 6 Residents' Committee
“It is my love for the environment and being constantly surrounded by like-minded community leaders that got me involved and kept me going. In my 20 years of grassroots involvement, I'm very happy to see more people are more concerned about environmental issues.
He is always on the lookout for ways to recycle household items. He takes pride in sharing tips with people on conserving water and electricity. He enjoys bringing people on nature trips around Singapore . Outgoing Kin Teo is a grassroots volunteer at Hong Kah North who has made green issues his passion.
“Taking care of Mother Earth is everyone's responsibility. If each of us takes a moment to consider the things we use in our daily lives, if everyone puts in some effort to reduce waste, the earth will be a much better living environment for everybody,” Kin Teo shared.
An avid campaigner of the ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle' eco-trilogy, Kin Teo has organised numerous eco-programmes to educate his fellow residents about environmentally friendly practices. One of his pet projects is the “Trash for Groceries” exchange programme where residents exchange household trash for groceries. Not only did this create greater awareness among residents of the type and quantity of trash they disposed, needy families, in particular, gained from the much needed groceries they received for their recyclable trash.
Besides encouraging residents to recycle, Kin Teo also initiates projects that spur residents to conserve resources. His “Towards a Water Efficient Community” programme shares with residents the importance of saving water and encourages them to install water saving devices in their homes; while his Water Volunteer Group visits families with high water consumption to educate them on water conservation and assist them in installing water saving devices. To further the message of environmental conservation, he also visits residents in the “Change A Bulb @ South-West” programme to encourage the use of energy saving bulbs.
Apart from driving home the green message in his many eco projects, Kin Teo believes it is equally important to have fun and enjoy our natural environment. He regularly organises outings to parks and nature reserves in Singapore . These include picnics at Pasir Ris and Labrador Parks , hiking trips at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, Tree Top Walk and Southern Ridge, as well as visits to the Semakau Landfill and NEWater Visitor Centre.
When asked what prompted him to campaign tirelessly for green issues, Kin Teo replied, “It is my love for the environment and being constantly surrounded by like-minded community leaders that got me involved and kept me going. In my 20 years of grassroots involvement, I'm very happy to see more people are more concerned about environmental issues. Even now, it really makes my day when I see residents voluntarily recycle trash, and opt for water- and electricity-efficient practices.”
Do you have an interest or a passion like Kin Teo's? It is never too late to play a part for your community. Contact your Neighbourhood Committee or Residents' Committee or Community Club today to find out how you can contribute.
Vincent Chia, PBM
Assistant Treasurer of Yew Tee Citizens’ Consultative Committee
Executive Member of Yew Tee Zone 9 Residents’ Committee
“I believe if people can learn something useful while bonding with one another, the learning experience becomes even more valuable. To achieve this, I use my strength as a Trainer, my love for teaching and my time to bring people together to enrich lives and build closer ties in the community.”
“Everyday, each of us has opportunities to learn something we have never seen or heard before. Whether at home, at work or at social gatherings, these possibilities to learn make life so much more interesting and they open doors we’ve never known before,” Vincent remarked, in a recent conversation.
An active grassroots leader and an experienced trainer, Vincent is a passionate proponent of lifelong learning and believes that no one is ‘too old, too young or too smart’ to learn. This belief has brought him into contact with many people and has seen him embark on weekly conversational English classes for senior citizens and foreigners.
“There are many seniors who want to learn English as they believe it helps them communicate better with the younger generation. I feel that if there are people who are willing to learn, there must be people willing to teach and I want to be one of them,” he said.
To make English lessons more interesting and easier to remember, Vincent regularly composes songs with popular tunes. In his lessons, he set English terms to Teresa Teng’s famous evergreen “The Moon Represents My Heart” and had his class learn the words by heart.
Besides formal classes, Vincent believes that casual gatherings are ideal learning opportunities too. Knowing well Singaporeans’ love for food, he regularly organises outdoor cooking demonstrations which double up as casual cooking classes for residents in Yew Tee. This has drawn both local and foreign residents to volunteer to teach and share their recipes with fellow residents.
Besides adults, Vincent’s endeavours have also seen him reach out to the children in his community. During the annual year-end holidays, he conducts storytelling sessions which allow children to learn ethics, neighbourliness and community living. Not only have the children benefitted from such sessions, their parents have had opportunities to build bonds with one another too.
“I believe if people can learn something useful while bonding with one another, the learning experience becomes even more valuable. To achieve this, I use my strength as a Trainer, my love for teaching and my time to bring people together to enrich lives and build closer ties in the community,” Vincent said.
Do you have a skill or an interest you can share with your community? Like Vincent, you can use them to enrich lives in your neighbourhood. Contact your Neighbourhood or Residents’ Committee today to find out how you can play a part.
Wilson Zhuang Wang Xiang, PBM
Immediate Past Chairman of Nee Soon South Springleaf Neighbourhood Committee
Secretary of Nee Soon South Citizens’ Consultative Committee
“The kampong spirit is very much alive here. Among my neighbours, I know I can always find a friend to talk to or someone to help me in times of need. Besides this estate, there is nowhere else I would rather call home.”
Living with daily news reports of natural disasters, rising prices and other problems, it is tempting to despair about life and retreat into our comfort zone to shut the bad news out. But this is not the case for Wilson and his fellow residents at the Springside and Springleaf estates.
“Many of us are grateful for the ‘extras’ we have and we believe in using our resources in community projects that cater to the needs of residents and boost the welfare of our neighbourhoods,” Wilson said.
Armed with this belief, they surveyed the Nee Soon Constituency and discovered that the poor, needy and elderly residents of Zone A would benefit from additional medical aid. They approached Ren Ai Traditional Chinese Medical (TCM) Centre and pooled their resources together to set up a Ren Ai TCM Centre at Block 719 Yishun St 71.
“Our TCM Centre is open every Monday and Thursday. Anyone who comes is given consultation and four days supply of medicine free-of-charge,” Wilson explained.
Operated and funded by the Nee Soon South Zone A Residents’ Committee and Springleaf Neighbourhood Committee, this TCM Centre is a welcome addition in Nee Soon South. In particular, the needy residents of Zone A are deeply touched and they often refer to their Springleaf neighbours as ‘kind, generous guardians’.
“It is very meaningful to be able to help and give unconditionally to those who need it most. This makes community living special and it helps to build bonds that last beyond our lifetimes,” Wilson reflected.
However, community living is not ‘all work and no play’ for Wilson and his neighbours at Springleaf estate. Every year, they band together to celebrate major festivals like the Chinese Lunar New Year and the Lantern Festival. During these celebrations, they decorate their estate, cater food, organise entertainment programmes and invite residents from the other Nee Soon South neighbourhoods to join them.
“The kampong spirit is very much alive here. Among my neighbours, I know I can always find a friend to talk to or someone to help me in times of need. Besides this estate, there is nowhere else I would rather call home,” Wilson concluded.
Like Wilson, you can help turn your neighbourhood into a warm caring community. Contact your Neighbourhood or Residents’ Committee for ideas to get started.
Sue Kwek Puay Hua, BBM
Member of Kampong Chai Chee Citizens; Consultative Committee and Kampong Chai Chee CC BFC
Patron of Kampong Chai Chee Community Centre Management Committee
“Drumming is a wholistic activity which involves your mind and body. My members often tell me how much drumming helps them de-stress and makes them more positive. They also feel a sense of achievement in performing together and contributing to the development of the drum repertoire, and this makes then look forward to future practices and performances.”
Striking an enormous Taiko drum with stylish energetic strokes, Sue is a picture of strength, energy and confidence. Watching her perform, no one would have guessed that Sue is in her 50s.
“Drumming is for everyone. Whether you’re male or female, young or old, drumming can invigorate you and sharpen your mind,” Sue said.
An avid drummer since the 1990s, Sue’s passion for drumming and Japanese culture saw her furthering her skills in drumming. In December 1997, she initiated the set up of Kampong Chai Chee Community Centre (CC) Daiko group and the group has not looked back ever since.
Sue passed on drumming skills she acquired, did research on drumming techniques, corresponded with Taiko groups in Japan, invited Japanese Taiko trainers to the Kampong Chai Chee CC Daiko group and even brought her drummers to Japan for further training.
Performance offers also came their way. The Kampong Chai Chee CC Daiko group graced the national stage during National Day celebrations, Chingay processions and constituency events. They were even invited to perform at corporate workshops where drumming skills were taught to corporate participants who then joined them for combined performances.
Not one to limit herself, Sue has also brought Taiko drumming to children through the School Outreach programmes.
“Children love drumming. Drumming gives them an outlet for their immense energy and allows them to express themselves in an uncomplicated way. This in turn helps them develop in positive ways and instill greater discipline in them,” Sue added.
Sue believes that drumming is a continual learning experience where new experiences and insights are gained at every practice and performance.
“Drumming is a wholistic activity which involves your mind and body. My members often tell me how much drumming helps them de-stress and makes them more positive. They also feel a sense of achievement in performing together and contributing to the development of the drum repertoire, and this makes then look forward to future practices and performances,” Sue said.
Mohd. Yahya Zakaria Attia, BBM
Member of Eunos Citizens’ Consultative Committee,
Vice-Chairman of Eunos Community Club Malay Activity Executive Committee
“Befriending youths who have strayed is very challenging; it takes a lot of perseverance to break through to them and show them the many meaningful things they can do. But each time I see them turn over a new leaf, the pride I have in them and the happiness I experience is so great I just want to continue my work in reaching out to more youths.”
It started with a talk at the Eunos Community Club. An ex-drug offender shared about the evils of drugs and this made Yahya convinced that more had to be done to help people caught in the drug trap.
An active grassroots leader since his youth, Yahya had always been deeply involved in the life of his neighbourhood. His participation in his constituency's social and cultural activities brought him closer to the people he lived with and bonded him with them. But this also made him more aware of their needs, especially those who have strayed from the mainstream of society.
After the anti-drugs talk, Yahya brought together a group of people who shared his conviction and started the “Eunos Drug Abuse Prevention Committee”. Working with Singapore Anti-Narcotics Association (SANA), they befriended youths who have undergone the drug rehabilitation programme and explored ways to help them lead healthy lifestyles.
Before long, their work caught the attention of families that were beginning to experience drug abuse at home.
“Families called us for advice on how to manage their children who stole money to buy drugs. It was never easy to counsel these families as hard decisions had to be made, but we advised them to do what would benefit their children in the long run. Many families voluntarily turned their children in for drug rehabilitation and after they were released, we continued befriending them and showing them ways to lead healthy meaningful lives,” Yahya said.
Besides befriending ex-drug offenders, Yahya and his team saw that residents in his neighbourhood also needed guidance on healthy living. With the support of their constituency, they organised exhibitions and forums on healthy living and encouraged residents to adopt healthy lifestyles. They also used these avenues to encourage people to stay away from drug abuse and to seek help if they encountered drug abuse among their peers and family members.
“Befriending youths who have strayed is very challenging; it takes a lot of perseverance to break through to them and show them the many meaningful things they can do. But each time I see them turn over a new leaf, the pride I have in them and the happiness I experience is so great I just want to continue my work in reaching out to more youths,” Yahya added.
Like Yahya, you too can reach out to people in your neighbourhood. Contact your Residents’ Committee today to find out how you can play your part.
Member of South West CDC
Member of Taman Jurong CCC
"How involved you want to be is in your hands. The PA offers a variety of opportunities to meet different needs and motivations. I encourage you to make your choice, and make a difference."
Aslam Sardar is a Councilor at the South West CDC. Since joining the PA as a volunteer in August 2005, he has been actively involved in engaging the youth. He chairs the South West CDC Youth Think-Tank sub-committee which explores new ways of engaging the youth. He hopes to inspire more youths and recruit more passionate young volunteers into the grassroots network.
As an entrepreneur and father of three, Aslam's greatest challenge is managing his time between his business, family and community work. However, he believes that the time one puts into volunteer work is really in one's control. Aslam says he has learnt better time management. He believes that each of us can decide how much time we choose to devote to community work.
'How involved you want to be is in your hands. The PA offers a variety of opportunities to meet different needs and motivations. I encourage you to make your choice, and make a difference.'
Ms Haridas Vasantha Devi
Member of Dover Community Centre Management Committee
Associate Member of Dover Road Residents’ Committee
“Curiosity made Devi walk into an Resident’s Committee (RC) meeting one day, and she has not looked back ever since. ”
Curiosity made Devi walk into an Resident’s Committee (RC) meeting one day, and she has not looked back ever since.
As a grassroots leader, one of the first things she realised was how legal matters were shunned by the lay people. But her firm belief in education as a means of empowerment led her to rope in friends to help organize a series of legal educational talks on matters ranging from making of Wills, estate planning, basic contractual issues to Intellectual Property laws and other commercial issues.
“Initially, I received some well-meaning warnings that matters such as making of Wills are generally considered to be taboo by the older generation. However, I was determined that the benefits of such knowledge must be put out. The more adventurous and curious ones who did attend the talks were appreciative, and helped to spread the word amongst their friends,” Devi said.
From there, Devi moved on to build strong links with residents. She appointed two block representatives per block, and enlisted the help of National Community Leadership Institute to present the role of Block Reps to her RC members in their own language – English, Mandarin and dialects. She formulated a brief questionnaire for the Block Reps to collect basic data about the residents during the house visits and set up a weekly ‘Kopi Stop’ where residents congregated at the Community Hall for a morning of fun, games and camaraderie.
Today, Devi is gratified with the immense changes she sees in the Dover Road constituency. Not only have the Block Representatives taken ownership of their respective blocks, there is also a community garden which residents proudly call their own.
“I used to notice a group of senior residents congregating near a ‘hole-in-the-wall’ shop and I wondered how a community garden would fare in the open space facing their meeting place. With the help of a anl NParks officer, I set about designing a garden in the shape of a flower. I then ‘sub-let’ the flower petals as ‘garden plots’ to my RC members. I knew I had hit jackpot when I saw the enthusiasm with which they were snapped up in a blink of an eye!” Devi added.
Now the Dover Road “Flower” has become a focal point of impromptu social gatherings, and it has even made neighbours stop to admire the efforts of the resident-gardeners! People who would previously walk past each other without so much as a glance are now making friends over flowers – truly a community in bloom!
Joewin Han Mui Ling, PBM
Assistant Secretary of Jalan Besar Citizens’ Consultative Committee
Chairman of Jalan Besar Community Club Management Committee
"I am particularly driven by the opportunity to inspire the passions of our youth. It gives me great satisfaction to know that through the projects I am involved in with the South West CDC, I can motivate youths of our country to strengthen their sense of national pride and community engagement."
Being in a warm nurturing home is one of the greatest joys in life. For Joewin, Jalan Besar is where her heart belongs. And the Jalan Besar Community Club (CC), in particular, holds fond memories as the place of play and laughter, and a place filled with growing pains and joys.
“Growing up and living in Jalan Besar allowed me to form very close bonds with the residents, so it is very natural for me to join the ranks of volunteers to do something for my community," Joewin said.
For the past 13 years, Joewin has served and led the Jalan Besar Youth Executive Committee. Besides organizing activities for the youths, Joewin saw that the youths have a bigger role to play in the Jalan Besar community.
“Being in a mature estate with senior residents living in rental housing, we knew that we had to reach out to them to enable them to live their golden age with dignity and happiness. We sometimes hear of seniors being bitten by bed bugs or eating food that has gone bad. So we initiated the annual ‘Spring Cleaning’ and ‘Make a wish for the Elderly’ programmes, and joined the other grassroots organisations in offering a monthly luncheon for the elderly,” Joewin added.
Launched in 2004, the annual ‘Spring Cleaning’ was a move to create a clean and healthy environment for the elderly living in rental flats. To involve the youth in this project, Joewin and her team regularly reach out to students who are interested to do their part for the community and invite them to join in the annual project.
“We believe it is a good learning experience for the students as the daunting task of clearing debris and dead cockroaches in these homes make many of them better able to appreciate their own home conditions,” Joewin said.
The elderly also appreciate having their homes cleaned before the Lunar New Year. For the Chinese elderly, the annual ‘Spring Cleaning’ is greatly welcomed as they believe in the tradition of cleaning their homes before the Lunar New Year.
“The entire experience is enriching and fulfilling for both the youths and the elderly. It is an immense joy to be able to share without expecting anything in return, especially when it brings comfort to someone else’s life,” said Joewin. Volunteering can enrich lives and build stronger communities. Like Joewin, you too can play a part. Contact your CC to find out more.
Jackie Goh, PBM
Secretary of Buona Vista Citizens' Consultative Committee
and Buona Vista CC BFC
“It is very satisfying to witness our youth helping to improve lives. I’ll definitely continue to look for opportunities to engage our youth to promote IT knowledge to communities in Singapore and around the world.”
He may be home in Singapore now, but his heart is still with the many communities he has worked with. Adventure enthusiast Jackie joined his Constituency’s Youth Executive Committee by chance, but it brought him on a journey he never dreamt of.
In the 1990s, the global internet boom and the emphasis on IT provided Jackie with the opportunity to bring Broadband connectivity into his community. He roped in youths from his Youth Executive Committee and worked with IT experts to bring the internet and IT literacy to residents in his Constituency. He also promoted IT to senior citizens and set up specially tailored training programmes for them.
This became the starting point for his many IT initiatives. He brought his team of Singaporean youths to Nepal, and then to other Asian countries like Cambodia, Laos and Philippines. Working with the local government and Non-governmental Organisations (NGO), they helped set up computer labs and conducted computer literacy camps for the communities there.
“It is very satisfying to witness our youth helping to improve lives, and to see communities being able to use computers and the internet. It helps them widen their knowledge and allows them to communicate with the global community,” he said. “I’ll definitely continue to look for opportunities to engage our youth to promote IT knowledge to communities in Singapore and around the world.”
Vice Chairman of Kampong Chai Chee Linear Green Residents' Committee
Vice-Chairman of Fengshan CSC
Member of Kampong Chai Chee CCC and CC BFC
“We never know whose lives we’ve made a difference to, but the impact of our actions will always be there.”
For some people, volunteering is not an activity, but a way of life. Whether they are organizing an event, or welcoming new residents to their neighbourhood, it is a chance for them to do something meaningful.
Vivacious Pauline has been an active volunteer since the early 1990s. Her passion for sports first brought her to the Sports Club where she organized a great number of activities for the young and old. Years later, her unwavering enthusiasm caught the attention of many and, she was roped in to add strength to her Residents' Committee.
“Visiting the homes of residents, helping new residents settle down, building rapport with them, giving them care, concern and friendship – the intangibles of life – gives me great joy,” she said. “But my greatest satisfaction comes when residents open up to one another and offer to participate in neighbourhood activities.”
Today, she sees residents in her neighbourhood gather for informal ‘kopi' sessions, plan outings among themselves and drop in at one another's homes regularly. She also involves them in planning neighbourhood activities, like the annual campfire, which not only generate great interest, but are very successful in drawing residents closer together.
“We never know whose lives we've made a difference to, but the impact of our actions will always be there,” she added.
Volunteering can change people and build stronger communities. Like Pauline, you too can play a part. Click here to find an opportunity that is meaningful for you.
Sarkunan s/o Gopal
Queenstown Commonwealth Drive Zone RC
“Our family time is never lost because, in most of our community work, we are involved as a family, each doing our part.”
The son of veteran grassroots volunteers, Sarkunan used to have negative thoughts about community work as a child. He felt it was a way to lure people into doing things for the community without the need to pay them.
One day, his parents received a call about an urgent case at Toa Payoh. Though he was not really concerned, he followed them reluctantly and discovered, to his astonishment, a man stuck under the bed and a woman lying on the bed - dead!
That man could not accept that his partner was gone and he did not know what to do. Sarkunan journeyed with him and shared his woes and regrets about how he took his life for granted and wasted his younger days. On the day the man died, Sarkunan asked himself, “Would I want to end up like him?”
Sarkunan was only 16 years old then. But that incident struck a chord in him and he has never stopped serving the community ever since. He actively organizes his team of volunteers in his Residents' Committee to look into welfare needs for his neighbourhood which consists of many low-income earners. He also appoints Block Ambassadors as first-lines-of-contact for residents, and organizes regular activities to bring residents together.
“It has not always been easy, but when the going gets tough, I'd remember Winston Churchill's words – ‘ The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty' ,” he said.
Many have asked him, “with your workload and extensive time in Community work, do you have time with your family?” He would just smile and say, “Our family time is never lost because, in most of our community work, we are involved as a family, each doing our part.”
Like Sarkunan, community work can enrich you and pave the way for you to grow with your community. It is a challenging but a rewarding experience. You have to be part of it to realise it!
Noor Azimah Bte Othman
Member of The Serangoon Malay Activity Executive Committee
and Community Club Management Committee
“Teenagers have dreams of producing something they can be proud if, but often they have many distractions that steer them from their goal. At this Drama Club, besides drama skills, they learn to be focused and to persevere in whatever they do.”
An outgoing and bubbly person, Azima has always had a passion for theatre. Despite her demanding schedule in school and later at work, she found time to attend courses on drama and script writing, join the drama group “Theatre Peti Karma” and even assume leadership of the group.
Shortly after she started volunteering at the Serangoon Community Club, she noticed the lack of avenues for Malay teenagers to be involved in meaningful activities outside school. Drawing on her experiences and her ready group of theatre friends, she convinced the Community Club to allow her to set up a club for Malay drama.
The response to her initiative was immediate. Her sharing sessions on writing styles for different media were warmly received and keenly attended by teenagers in her neighbourhood. She also encouraged them to write their own skits and perform them.
“Teenagers have dreams of producing something they can be proud if, but often they have many distractions that steer them from their goal. At this Drama Club, besides drama skills, they learn to be focused and to persevere in whatever they do,” Azimah said.
Auditor, Fengshan Youth Executive Committee
Chairman of Fengshan CC WEC
Treasurer of Fengshan CCC
Member of Fengshan CCMC
"Volunteering has given me another perspective in life and I feel good when I can make a difference to my community. Women have to realise that they have an important part to play and they should step up to take ownership rather than wait for things to happen."
Ms Diana Pang joined the PA as a volunteer in 2006. Besides her role as Auditor of Fengshan Youth Executive Committee (YEC) and member of Fengshan CCC, she also helps to organise community activities for Fengshan YEC.
An ex-auditor and currently a Business Development Manager at Sunny Metal & Engineering Pte Ltd, she sits on 13 committees, which include CPA Australia and Young Business Leaders Forum.
Despite her busy schedule, Ms Pang continues to volunteer in the grassroots activities as it gives her a sense of indescribable fufilment to be able to make a difference to the community.
Lim Ngee Huat, PBM
Chairman of Mountbatten Citizens’ Consultative Committee
"I am grateful for what life has given to me, and I want to play a part in helping others enjoy the same opportunities in life. As a grassroots leader, I hope to help inspire people to improve the quality of their lives.”
Lim Ngee Huat, PBM, Chairman of Mountbatten Citizens’ Consultative Committee (CCC), has been volunteering with the PA since 1977. Other than holding a day job as editor and producer at Media Corp News, he is a seasoned triathlete who holds a national record of 168 km in the 2005 ultramarathon.
His enthusiasm to improve residents' health led him to organise more sports activities such as weekly Walk-A-Jog sessions when he was appointed as Chairman of Mountbatten Constituency Sports Club (CSC) in 1994.
Since becoming the Chairman of Mountbatten CCC in March 2006, he has worked closely with grassroots organisations and Voluntary Welfare Organisations (VWO) to help administer health enrichment programmes such as “FIT for Elderly” for residents in the Mountbatten Community. He also set up a new Sea Sports Committee in April 2006 to promote water sports.
By encouraging residents to exercise regularly as part of their lifestyles, Mr Lim says he hopes to promote a “Sporting Mountbatten.
Mdm Ayesha Bte Abdullah, PBM
Chairman, Pasir Ris East CC MAEC Member of Pasir Ris CCMC
Member of Pasir Ris CCMC
"I enjoy meeting and helping people. Sometimes I do come across people who can be quite harsh but I also meet ‘beautiful people’ who make my day with their kind words and encouragement.”
“I enjoy meeting and helping people. Sometimes I do come across people who can be quite harsh but I also meet ‘beautiful people’ who make my day with their kind words and encouragement,” Mdm Ayesha Bte Abdullah, 56, Chairperson of Pasir Ris East CC MAEC, commenting on her source of motivation in her years of serving the community.
Mdm Ayesha, 56, joined the grassroots network in 1984 as a grassroots leader under the encouragement of her husband, Mr Mohd Ismail Bin Hamid, who offered to take care of the children while she helped out at grassroots events. Falling in love with the multi-faceted nature of grassroots work, she found that it allowed her to help the needy as well as organise activities for residents to bond and interact.
Thinking of one initiative which gives her the most pride, Mdm Ayesha cites the Book Exchange programme for needy families, which was started way back in 1984.
“We wanted to help lighten the financial burden of these families especially those with many children to provide for. It was really fulfilling to see the contented smiles on the faces of the children and their parents when they managed to find the books they needed,” she said.
For Mdm Ayesha, politeness and patience are two essential qualities that a grassroots leader should possess. Grassroots work requires constant interactions with residents she adds.
“We should never position ourselves differently when interacting with residents and personal unhappiness should not influence our work. As volunteers, we serve the residents and should always remember that one should give respect to earn respect,” she emphasised.
These two qualities have helped Mdm Ayesha deal with her fair share of difficult situations during her 27 years of service as a grassroots leader. “Human beings are emotional by nature and there will be situations that may cause people to react negatively. When you remain polite and patient, most of them will realise that you are there to serve and help them.”
To individuals who aspire to volunteer in the grassroots, Ms Ayesha has the following advice: “If you serve, serve with your heart. Never expect returns.”
If you are interested to do your part for your local community, sign up now and join Mdm Ayesha to volunteer.
Tang Kwok Hoong, Gerald, PBM
Membership Secretary, Radin Mas CC YEC
Chairman, Bukit Purmei Zone A RC
Member, Radin Mas CCC & Radin Mas CC BFC and Assistant Treasurer of Radin Mas CCMC
Council Member for PAYM Central Youth Council
"I am passionate about serving the community. Working closely with other volunteers help promote social bonding”
At the age of 34, he is one of the youngest recipients of the National Day Award (NDA) 2011. Mr Gerald Tang, an Associate Test Engineer by day and a Grassroots Leader by night, shared his thoughts on receiving the NDA, his motivation to volunteer and his team’s plan to engage residents in the Radin Mas estate.
Mr Tang recalled that he was roped in to volunteer at the age of 18 at Bukit Purmei Zone A RC by his mentor, Mr Lee Yew Lee, PBM, the then chairman of the RC. So impressed was Mr Lee by this young man’s passion and enthusiasm to serve that he passed the Chairmanship baton to Mr Tang soon after.
Being a grassroots volunteer for the past 16 years equipped Mr Tang with confidence, leadership skills and the ability to communicate with people across the ages and he applied these skills to his career.
He was pleasantly surprised to be conferred the NDA as he recognised the contributions and dedications of more senior GRLs. This humble Radin Mas CC YEC Chairman, however was deserving of the award as under his leadership, various social assistance flagship programmes were initiated for the elderly residents in Radin Mas.
As a youth himself, he acknowledged the challenge in attracting more youths to volunteer with the grassroots. He believed that through meaningful and sustainable grassroots activities, youths will be encouraged to participate and contribute to the community.
When asked for his advise to youths who wish to volunteer, Mr Tang remarked, “Have an open heart to know more about the community and take the time to understand the different groups of Singaporeans.”
Yam Meng Keng, BBM (L)
Chairman, Jalan Kayu CCC
Patron of Jalan Kayu C2E Co-Chairman of Hwi Yoh CC BFC
"It is really heartening to see the couples again, some even bringing their children to the activities”
For Mr Yam Meng Keng, BBM(L), Chairman of Jalan Kayu CCC, it all began with a sign-up form to join the Residents’ Committee way back in 1982.
Moving into Ang Mo Kio back then, and more used to the village backdrop of the then Kampong San Teng, Mr Yam was not accustomed to his new environment and joining the Residents’ Committee in his area seemed a good way of familiarising himself with his new home. It could even allow him a chance to help improve the surrounding living environment, he thought. Since that day in 1982, Mr Yam has not looked back from grassroots work.
For Mr Yam, the sense of satisfaction that he gets from helping others and the friendship forged among residents is the driving force behind his continued efforts .“I have made many good friends from the activities that we organised. It is heart-warming when people whom you may not recognise come forward to shake your hand and exchange greetings on occasions such as New Year Celebrations,” he said.
Mr Yam also solemnises weddings, as more than 100 couples will gratefully attest. Many of these had become regular participants of community events organised by Mr Yam.
“It is really heartening to see the couples again, some even bringing their children to the activities,” he said.
As a grassroots leader, Mr Yam spares no effort in helping residents in need. In June 2011, a fire broke out in one of the housing units in Jalan Kayu, rendering a family of three homeless. Mr Yam worked swiftly with other grassroots leaders to arrange for alternative housing in Serangoon North for the family. “We were glad that we were able to help the family,” he shared.
When asked to summarise what grassroots work meant to him, Mr Yam said, “Grassroots work is volunteering with Passion, it is the desire to serve.”
Mr Lim Joo Kwan, JP BBM (L)
Vice-Chairman, Bedok CCC
Patron of Bedok CSC and C2E
Member of Bedok CCMC
Member or South East CDC
“People can generally find time for what they choose to do. I enjoy helping others and serving in the community. It is such a joy to give back.”
Mr Lim Joo Kwan JP BBM(L), 67 years old, dedicated over 33 years of his life to the building and shaping of Singapore’s community, notably Bedok. He is fondly known as “Mr Bedok” simply because he is so “renowned” that most Bedok residents either know him by name, face and are also his personal friends. After more than 33 years, he is still actively contributing as the Vice Chairman of Bedok Citizens’ Consultative Committee (CCC), Chairman of Community Development Welfare Fund (CDWF) member of Bedok Community Centre (CC) Management Committee (MC), Patron of Bedok Constituency Sports Club (CSC), Bedok C2E and Vice-Chairman of Bedok CC Building Fund Committee (BFC).
Mr Lim’s journey as a grassroots volunteer began in 1978 as the assistant secretary for Bedok CCC. Over the years, he became deeply involved in various community activities and rendered his service to many other organisations, such as the Singapore Sports Council, South East CDC, and various grassroots committees in Bedok.
Despite his hectic work schedule, Mr Lim, self-employed, never fails to attend meetings, house visits and interacting with residents. A multi-linguist, he would readily offer to help translate residents’ concerns to the Adviser and other partner agencies; acting as an effective communication bridge between the government and its people. His amiable demeanor draws people out of their shells and he is able to connect with people from all walks of life.
Mr Lim takes it upon himself to be involved in raising funds for not only the Welfare and Development Funds for Bedok residents, but also the CC’s upgrading projects as he believes that such projects will improve the environment for the residents. He also organised golf tournaments to raise funds and even approached his personal contacts in search of sponsors and donors.
Recently, he headed the upgrading project for Block 16 Bedok South market and with his kind mitigation, ensured smooth discussions between the market committee and the National Environmental Agency thus expediting the completion of the project.
Mr Lim inspired many with his enthusiasm and PAssion in going the extra mile for the community. He is also concerned about grooming future leaders and is an excellent mentor to young Bedok grassroots leaders by getting them involved in major events and selflessly providing them with invaluable guidance along the way. With his long list of contributions, he truly deserves the title of “Father of Bedok GROs”.
Mr Habib Bin Mohd Ismail
Chairman, Telok Blangah 'Blangah Court' RC
Chairman, Telok Blangah Community Sports Club
Vice Chairman, CSC Council
Member, Telok Blangah CCC
Member, Telok Blangah CCMC
“I feel happy when I engage residents through sports and help needy residents. I feel satisfied when they smile & acknowledge me. We must step out of our comfort zone to reach out to those who are in need of our help.”
With his strong interest in sports, Mr Habib has led Telok Blangah Community Sports Club (CSC) since 2004. To him, sport is an effective medium to promote interaction and mutual understanding among residents, thereby strengthening family and community bonding. Events like night cycling, bowling tournaments, community sports festivals were amongst the many sporting activities he spearheaded to encourage a healthy lifestyle.
Mr Habib came up with new and creative ideas such as playing games at rest points to engage cyclists at their annual night cycling event. Due to his efforts, participants of the night event grew from 21 cyclists in year 2005 to 180 participants in 2011.
Having stayed in Telok Blangah for 35 years, Mr Habib had taken time to know and understand the needs of residents in the area. Now, residents in Telok Blangah know that they can always approach him for help. His compassionate and generous nature drove him to volunteer in Blangah Court RC (BCRC) for 21 years.
Mr Habib is a firm believer of inclusiveness; he has organised several events for residents from all walks of life, ranging from Chinese New Year celebrations to social assistance programmes.
Keeping the needy residents in mind, Mr Habib worked with community partners to organise festive celebrations where food hampers were distributed to them for three consecutive years. Under Mr Habib’s leadership, BCRC collaborated with National University Hospital to organise the Spring Festive Cheer, a gathering for the residents, as part of the Chinese New celebrations. As an Indian and unfamiliar with Chinese culture, helping to organise the event gave him the opportunity to be exposed to the culture and learn alongside other non-Chinese organisers.
Mr Habib’s dedication and hard work has earned him the Good Service Award and Meritorious Award over the years. He was also awarded the Distinguished Award last year, in recognition of his contributions towards the BCRC and Telok Blangah CSC.
Mr Kelvin Wang
Chairman, Yio Chu Kang Zone 4 RC
Member, Yio Chu Kang CCC
Member, Yio Chu Kang C2E
“Kelvin kept the needy and ageing residents foremost in his mind and encouraged his RC members to do more for the community.”
Mr Kelvin Wang started his volunteer work in 2005 after being introduced by a friend to the then Chairman, Mr David Lim, of Yio Chu Kang (YCK) Zone 4 RC.
Starting out as an Assistant Secretary to the RC in the first 6 months, Kelvin’s eagerness to come up with new and unique activities to bring residents into the community impressed his fellow volunteers. He was especially interested to improve outreach efforts to the elderly in Ang Mo Kio Central estate.
Kelvin and David then started YCK Zone 4 RC’s Fruity Fiesta in 2007. The event is now held annually to highlight the importance of including fruits and vegetables in the daily diet. In his second term as a Grassroots Leader in YCK Zone 4 RC, Kelvin was appointed Treasurer and he was tasked to improve the RC’s financial procedures and to implement more effective methods to utilise funds to help needy residents.
In 2010, following the rampant dengue outbreaks in various parts of Singapore, the YCK Zone 4 RC under Kelvin’s advise collaborated with NUS-Duke students and Ang Mo Kio Town Council for a dengue research in the estate. The research spanned over 12 months and as a result, the RC garnered valuable feedback from the students and were able to educate residents on preventive dengue measures.
In 2011 Kelvin worked closely with NTUC to ensure that the plans for the opening of an NTUC supermarket in Ang Mo Kio Central would not affect the traffic flow in the car park located just behind the supermarket or caused inconvenience to residents living in low floors during the early hours when NTUC stocks were delivered. Kelvin, together with other RC members, went on house visits to gather feedback from residents even before the supermarket opened and one month after its opening. This helped to minimise complaints and feedback was promptly addressed.
Kelvin’s leadership and determination in community work led to his appointment as Chairperson of YCK Zone 4 RC in 2011. He kept the needy and ageing residents foremost in his mind and encouraged his RC members to do more for the community. He also encouraged residents to participate in community events to make friends and share experiences.
In 2012, Kelvin's dedication and hard work earned him the Motorola Mobility Volunteer Awards under the category of Leadership in the Community. The Volunteer Awards were created in 1992 to encourage Motorola staff to be involved in the community and to recognise exceptional volunteering service by employees. A Volunteer Award is the highest recognition for volunteering one can receive at Motorola Mobility. Kelvin was the first Singapore employee from Motorola Mobility Inc. to be conferred this award.
Mdm Par Bee Gek, Dolly, PBM
Chairman, Cashew Zone 3 RC
Assistant Treasurer, Cashew CCC
“Being a volunteer gives me a sense of contentment. It makes me happy to have many friends around my neighbourhood. Many of them recognise me and say hello or stop to chat when I go about running my errands around the neighbourhood. These simple gestures make my day, every day!”
A volunteer for more than nine years, Dolly’s foray into volunteering was accidental. She was giving feedback on some community issues in 2003 when she was invited to come onboard and contribute to the community – an invitation she accepted readily. She has not looked back since.
As the Chairman of Cashew Zone 3 RC, Dolly takes her role of connecting residents in Cashew Zone 3 seriously. She has been instrumental in the development of several interest groups at Cashew.
Dolly firmly believed that interest groups are a great way to bring people with common interests together to bond and make friends. She encourages RC members and residents and guides them along in forming various Interest Groups ranging from Balloon Sculpting, Culinary Skills, Mahjong, Karaoke to Ukulele. Another newly formed interest group she advocated for was the Smart Phone App Interest Group where residents who are using smart phones gather and share about their favourite app and learn how to develop an app from scratch.
Having a ball of a time dancing and actively looking out for and embracing new ideas were Dolly’s two greatest passions.
With her passion for dancing, Dolly formed a Line Dance Interest Group in July 2008 at her RC to bring like-minded ladies within Cashew Zone 3 together to bond and make new friends whilst having some fun. Today, there are a total of 25 regulars in the interest group. The group have performed several dance items ranging from Peranakan to Hip Hop for many major events at Cashew.
Dolly also proved that the latest K-Pop craze was not just for the young. She gathered her members and performed a K-Pop dance at her constituency’s Chinese New Year dinner. She’s even got plans to organise a K-Pop competition at her RC level for residents of all ages. Her passion for combining volunteering with connecting like-minded residents is admirable indeed.