In 1989, pioneer Chinese clan leader Png Chwee Kim found a home for Nanyang Fang Shee Association when it needed one badly.
Rising rents were chasing the association - formed by clansmen with the surname Fang, which is also spelt as Png, Perng, Fong, Hong or Poon, depending on their dialect - from place to place.
Mr Png, a businessman who was then president of the association, offered his two-storey shophouse in Tanjong Katong for $250,000, a price below market value, and donated $70,000 to start a building fund.
The following year, the association moved to its permanent home, now worth at least $3 million. It currently has 220 members.
Mr Png, 87, was among three pioneer leaders to receive the Special Contribution Award at Nanyang Fang Shee Association's 80th anniversary gala dinner last night.
The others were Mr Hong Boon Yoon, 85, and Mr Poon Siang Hwee, 90.
They received the awards from Senior Minister of State (Culture, Community and Youth and Trade and Industry) Sim Ann.
Mr Png's life is a rags to riches story. He moved here from Fujian in China when he was nine with his mother and elder sister to join their port worker father.
By the time he was 17, both his parents and sister had died due to illness, leaving him all alone. With no formal education, he took on odd jobs, including one as a coolie in the godowns, before setting up Singapore Transport Supply Service in 1962.
He remains the company's chairman. Most of his six children are managing the company and the family's other business.
"I suggested that we give out the special awards for the first time because if we don't do it now, we may not have a chance to do so," said Mr Perng Peck Seng, 65, the association's immediate past president.
Mr Png said he was honoured to receive the award "at this late stage of my life".