1,000 volunteers spruce up 120 homes of elderly in Home Sweep Home event

Volunteers paint the gates of residents in Chai Chee Avenue.
Volunteers paint the gates of residents in Chai Chee Avenue. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN
Minister Tan Chuan Jin (centre) speaks with resident Low Chin Hee (centre, left), 66, a former painter, in his Chai Chee Avenue apartment.
Minister Tan Chuan Jin (centre) speaks with resident Low Chin Hee (centre, left), 66, a former painter, in his Chai Chee Avenue apartment. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN
Resident Low Chin Hee a former painter, has his Chai Chee Avenue apartment spruced up by volunteers William Tan, Bryan Teo, Caleb Low and Agnes Lim.
Resident Low Chin Hee a former painter, has his Chai Chee Avenue apartment spruced up by volunteers William Tan, Bryan Teo, Caleb Low and Agnes Lim. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Chai Chee resident Low Chin Hwee has weathered many setbacks in life, but maintains a sunny disposition.

Anyone meeting the 66-year-old is often struck by his toothy grin and affable demeanour.

The years have been tough on Mr Low, who was forced into early retirement at age 40 with the sudden onset of a stroke. He now gets by with a monthly allowance of $500 under the public assistance scheme.

But he said: "I have a positive outlook on life and I am happy… I will not sit around at home and mope over how lonely I feel or how financially dependent I am as I feel that having that attitude is not helpful."

Mr Low is one of some 120 beneficiaries who had their homes tidied and repainted by volunteers for three hours on Saturday (July 8).

More than 1,000 people from all walks of life took part in one of Singapore's largest coordinated clean-up events, Home Sweep Home, in Redhill, Chai Chee and Toa Payoh.

"I volunteered as I wanted to use this particular opportunity to give back and make a difference in the lives of others," said Ms Agnes Lim, 28, a headhunter who spent her Saturday morning repainting the homes of elderly residents.

Besides reducing the clutter at some of the homes, volunteers also bagged up litter in the surrounding housing estates.

In the Chai Chee estate, volunteers managed to collect about 120kg of refuse, with the Redhill neighbourhood coming a close second at 118kg.

Yevin Ngar, 15, a Secondary 3 student who was part of the litter-picking team, said: "I had fun picking up the litter and we could also bond as a family. There were people who approached us to say that we're doing a very meaningful thing for the community."

Organised by the non-profit organisation Habitat for Humanity Singapore, the inaugural event aims for a cleaner and healthier Singapore. It hopes to achieve this by starting with improving the living conditions of vulnerable elderly residents living in one- and two-room rental flats.

Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin, who was the guest of honour at the event, highlighted the importance of supporting such community outreach activities.

"As we begin to help and volunteer, I think we also begin to change, we learn to be circumspect about our own lives but more importantly, it gives us an avenue to love and care with compassion," he said.

Those looking to make a difference in the lives of elderly residents can take part in weekly home clean-up sessions called Project HomeWorks - also organised by the Habitat of Humanity Singapore.