Awards for volunteers who went the extra mile to help seniors

(From left) Silver Generation Office (SGO) group chief Yip Hon Weng, Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) chairman Gerard Ee, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, AIC chief executive Tan Kwang Cheak, Emeritus Senior Min
(From left) Silver Generation Office (SGO) group chief Yip Hon Weng, Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) chairman Gerard Ee, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, AIC chief executive Tan Kwang Cheak, Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong and Health Minister Gan Kim Yong celebrating the SGO's fifth birthday at an appreciation reception at the Singapore Expo yesterday.ST PHOTOS: CHONG JUN LIANG
Madam Kalyanasundaram Chandrakala is one of 16 volunteers who received the Exemplary Silver Generation Ambassador award.
Madam Kalyanasundaram Chandrakala is one of 16 volunteers who received the Exemplary Silver Generation Ambassador award.ST PHOTOS: CHONG JUN LIANG

One is a relief teacher who arranged for home-cooked meals to be sent to elderly man

While reaching out to senior citizens to explain government schemes, relief teacher Kalyanasundaram Chandrakala met an elderly man who said he missed home-cooked Indian food.

She made an effort to find a friend who could provide and deliver food to him. He said the food reminded him of his mother's cooking.

Madam Chandrakala, 51, who is often called Madam Kala, was one of 16 volunteers who received the Exemplary Silver Generation (SG) Ambassador award yesterday at the Singapore Expo.

The award recognises outstanding individuals who went the extra mile in supporting seniors.

Another 1,000 volunteers received the SG Ambassador Service award, which recognises dedicated active volunteers.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who attended the appreciation reception yesterday, lauded Madam Kala's "small act of kindness that went a long way to brighten up someone's life".

He added that the Silver Generation Office (SGO) has evolved beyond its initial mission of supporting Pioneer Generation seniors.

Formerly known as the Pioneer Generation Office, it was set up in 2014 to inform pioneers about the Pioneer Generation package.

"Now that you have accomplished your mission for the Pioneer Generation, we have decided to give you another mission (which is to explain the Merdeka Generation package)," PM Lee told the 2,800-strong gathering. Around 500,000 Singaporeans are eligible for the Merdeka Generation Package.

The Pioneer Generation Office was renamed SGO last year and merged with the Agency for Integrated Care, under the Ministry of Health.

SG Ambassadors make house visits to tell seniors about government policies that will benefit them, such as MediShield Life, and support schemes such as goods and services tax vouchers.

They also help connect seniors with agencies and community partners to deal with their other needs.

"The SG Ambassador is now an additional and important channel of engagement for the Government," PM Lee said, noting that their target group is more defined than other grassroots channels.

Their work goes beyond merely telling seniors about government policies, he added. "You are systematically meeting them, getting to know them, building relations and winning their trust," said PM Lee.

He added that SGO is also working with other government agencies to provide more information online, through an app, and also to create an e-version of the Merdeka Generation card.

"As a result of these new initiatives, we have been able to reach 140,000 Merdeka Generation seniors within a short span of five months," said PM Lee.

Since the Merdeka Generation outreach started, SGO's volunteer pool has increased by 25 per cent.

Said PM Lee: "Many of you, from young to old, joined because of a strong desire to give back to society.

"The SG Ambassadors' efforts have made us a more caring and cohesive society... where we feel an obligation to each other, and especially to our seniors, who have given their best years to Singapore."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 02, 2019, with the headline 'Awards for volunteers who went the extra mile to help seniors'. Print Edition | Subscribe