47 volunteers, donors lauded for helping children

Mr Kurt Wee, 44, received the Ruth Wong Award, given to those who have served the Children's Society for at least 10 years. He helped to raise $106.8 million for the charity since 2008. Mrs Joanna Ang, 63, received the Platinum Service Award, given t
Mrs Joanna Ang, 63, received the Platinum Service Award, given to outstanding volunteers who have served the Children's Society for at least 15 years.PHOTOS: SINGAPORE CHILDREN'S SOCIETY
Mr Kurt Wee, 44, received the Ruth Wong Award, given to those who have served the Children's Society for at least 10 years. He helped to raise $106.8 million for the charity since 2008. Mrs Joanna Ang, 63, received the Platinum Service Award, given t
Mr Kurt Wee, 44, received the Ruth Wong Award, given to those who have served the Children's Society for at least 10 years. He helped to raise $106.8 million for the charity since 2008.PHOTOS: SINGAPORE CHILDREN'S SOCIETY

Mrs Joanna Ang, 63, a volunteer with the Singapore Children's Society, recalls a Primary 4 boy crying over the phone and saying he wanted to kill himself.

"Classmates were teasing him about his 'girlfriend' in class," said Mrs Ang, who has been helping out since 2003 with the Tinkle Friend Helpline, a national toll-free line for primary schoolchildren.

A trained counsellor, Mrs Ang eventually helped the boy get over the teasing.

The episode happened about 10 years ago, but she said it would be in her mind for a long time.

The housewife was one of 47 volunteers and donors honoured yesterday by the Children's Society in an annual ceremony.

This year's edition was held at the Pan Pacific Singapore, with Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee as guest of honour.

Mrs Ang was one of four recipients of the Platinum Service Award, which is given to outstanding volunteers who have served the charity for at least 15 years.

Besides providing a listening ear to children, Mrs Ang also trains and mentors new volunteers.

Another award winner was Mr Kurt Wee, 44, who received the Ruth Wong Award for volunteers who have given at least 10 years of service to the Children's Society.

Mr Wee, who is the chief executive officer of biotechnology research company Celligenics and president of the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises, has also raised $106.8 million for the Children's Society since 2008.

As chairman of the charity's appeals standing committee, he raised the funds by getting companies and individuals to donate.

Mr Wee admits to getting "extremely nervous" when fund-raising yields are low because of the importance of the children's needs.

Last year, the society reached out to more than 65,500 beneficiaries through its 11 service centres.

He said donation amounts have inched lower since 2016, but he is "cautiously optimistic" that there will be a turnaround this year.

Mr Koh Choon Hui, chairman of the Singapore Children's Society, said at the event: "It is necessary to acknowledge that inequality and poverty exist in our society... but talking about it is not enough. We need to take concrete steps to address this problem."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 13, 2018, with the headline '47 volunteers, donors lauded for helping children'. Print Edition | Subscribe