SINGAPORE - While helping the elderly living alone in Jalan Bukit Merah, polytechnic student Kennard Tay Sze Han realised that most of them could not understand their medical bills and bank statements in English.
The 18-year-old volunteer with Lions Befrienders, who has been making weekly visits to the elderly since 2016, started translating letters from English to Mandarin for them.
"The volunteers and I need to let them know what's going on, especially with their medical and dental bills. Every time I visit them, I can see their smiles radiate from their faces and they're really happy that we are here," he told The Straits Times.
He has also been teaching the elderly how to use their smartphones for the past three months. This is on top of his duties of helping them change bed sheets and buy groceries.
"The fact that I am able to keep the elderly happy through my visits once a week for two hours, which is not a lot of my time, keeps me going. I know that ... this small act is really making a huge difference for someone else," he added.
The second-year Singapore Polytechnic student is also part of the Boys Brigade (BB) and serves as the Deputy Company Sergeant Major of Nan Hua High School.
He was one of seven Senior Cadet Lieutenants (SCL) who received the President's Award from President Halimah Yacob at the Istana on Wednesday (Dec 16).
The award is the highest accolade in BB and is presented to the top members of the Primers Programme that are for those between 16 and 18 years old.
Awardees must meet the demanding requirements in leadership and service in the community spanning at least six years, as well as in BB as activity leaders or event planners.
Brendan Soh Heng Yi, 18, who recently completed his International Baccalaureate course at Anglo-Chinese School (Independent), received the award for leading his school's BB company as Training Head and Band Primer, as well as for his community work including volunteering as a tutor in the Salvation Army.
"I really treasure the journey that has led up to this award. All the new things I've tried, all the friends and juniors that I've made friends with and the awesome opportunity to touch lives and impact my juniors,'' he said.
Another recipient was Evan Lim Shouwang, 18, who just completed his A Levels at Anglo-Chinese Junior College.
He led the Anglo-Chinese School (Barker Road) company as a Head Primer and assisted in the operations for BB's annual Share-a-Gift project for four years. He helped coordinate the collection of donated goods such as rice and canned food, which are repackaged and sent to needy Singaporean families.
"I feel honoured to get the award but what was more fulfilling was the journey, growth and development since Secondary 1 that led up to this moment. I received guidance from my seniors when I started BB and am now leading my juniors. This brings it full circle," he said.