SINGAPORE - Volunteerism goes beyond giving back to society, to also build the character of those who serve, said President Halimah Yacob to a group of young people on Saturday (March 10) as she was named the first patron of Youth Corps Singapore.
As patron, she will lend her voice to the youth volunteerism movement and help provide more opportunities for young people to get involved.
In a speech, she said those who start volunteering at a young age get to understand what it means to care for people or promote good causes, learn to appreciate what they have, develop empathy and compassion for the less fortunate, and grow a sense of belonging to Singapore.
They also acquire valuable skills which can then be applied in their personal lives or work, she said, speaking to some 170 young people along with 30 beneficiaries from Metta Home for the Disabled at The Red Box in Somerset.
She added: "As a society, we should help them by believing in them, encouraging them and giving them opportunities."
Senior Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth Sim Ann said in a speech that Youth Corps Singapore has mobilised more than 1,000 leaders and 14,000 members since it was started in 2014.
Last year, it provided young people with over 3,000 local volunteering opportunities, while more than 4,000 of them went to overseas communities to volunteer, she said.
At Saturday's event, Madam Halimah also launched this year's Youth Corps Service Week, which will run over eight days from Saturday and involves about 1,500 young people taking part in community service projects to help the elderly, people with special needs, children and the environment.
Some 1,200 beneficiaries will take part in activities such as a picnic at the Istana on Monday, art workshops and a tour of The Peranakan Museum. It is the second year the service week is running.
Madam Halimah reminded the young people that youth volunteerism goes beyond the service week, and is "a movement that must be sustained".
"I therefore encourage you to continue channeling your energy, skills and passion to give back to society. Encourage more of your peers to do likewise. In turn, I hope to support and enable your journey of service in every way possible," she said.