A way to feel young again

Madam Mary Sim, 68, volunteers once a month at the Reach Community Cafe. She says volunteering "makes me glad".
Madam Mary Sim, 68, volunteers once a month at the Reach Community Cafe. She says volunteering "makes me glad".ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

It is around noon at the Reach Community Cafe, tucked away in Bukit Batok West Avenue 4.

Every Friday, a group of senior customers spend their morning there chatting over coffee and Western food such as pie and soup.

The ones who cook and serve are not young chefs but a group of senior volunteers who are about the same age as their customers.

One of these volunteers is Madam Mary Sim, a 68-year-old retired insurance agent. Since August, she has been volunteering from 9am to noon once a month at the cafe.

"I wanted to learn how to make a Western breakfast," she said. "I'm used to cooking Chinese food."

Since her younger days, Madam Sim has been honing her cooking skills. Now a widow, she remembers cooking for her three children, who are now in their late 20s to 40 years old.

"When they were young, I would cook for them and I think that's when it started," she said.

Madam Sim also used to run an industrial canteen before she worked as an insurance agent.

She said: "I have always liked to cook and seeing people eat my food makes me happy."


She sometimes volunteers at her church by leading cooking and singing classes with other seniors.

"Helping people is my passion," Madam Sim said. "My children are overseas or working and I don't have that much to do at home, now that I have retired. Volunteering makes good use of my time and it makes me glad."

Madam Sim finds that volunteering at the cafe keeps her lively and on her toes, as she bustles around the little kitchen and weaves between tables to serve customers food.

"It makes me feel young again," she said with a smile.

Sue-Ann Tan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 31, 2017, with the headline 'A way to feel young again'. Print Edition | Subscribe