Causes Week: Building from the ground up

Causes Week 2018: Creating 'micro' ways to volunteer

Ms Sherry Soon wanted to make it easier for working adults to volunteer. So in 2017, she set up Be Kind SG, an informal group that enables micro-volunteering – a way to do volunteer work that does not require heavy commitment.
Ms Sherry Soon, who set up Be Kind SG last year, with 69-year-old How Shap Nooi, a resident of a home that the group visits.
Ms Sherry Soon, who set up Be Kind SG last year, with 69-year-old How Shap Nooi, a resident of a home that the group visits.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Be Kind SG offers volunteers the flexibility of joining the group in one or more activities

Many volunteers stop giving their time once they join the workforce, get caught up in the rat race and start raising their families.

To counter this, Ms Sherry Soon set up Be Kind SG last year, offering micro-volunteering opportunities. Volunteers can join the informal group in one or more activities.

Ms Soon, 37, who started volunteering in her teens, said: "Micro-volunteering is fuss-free, flexible and requires less commitment."

She chose the name Be Kind SG to emphasise the importance of the quality. And kindness can be shown in different ways, she said, from the giving of time or money to showing tolerance when you see a child throw a tantrum in public.

The group has about 500 volunteers now from all walks of life and over half have volunteered more than once. Be Kind SG posts its activities on meetup.com for sign-ups and there are activities almost every weekend.

Some are regular, such as making birthday cards for residents of welfare homes. The group also organises birthday celebrations and activities during visits to homes.

There are also activities to honour "invisible heroes" such as domestic workers, nurses and transport workers, who are often taken for granted but whose work is crucial to keep the country going, she said. These could include making flower arrangements and baking cookies for them.

  • Get involved in these other causes

  • KEEPING HOPE ALIVE

    This informal group knocks on doors of rental flats to offer help to families who need it.

    The aid it provides ranges from cleaning up a flat to repairing faulty electrical appliances to giving residents donations of food.

    If you want to volunteer, call Ms Fion Phua on 9762-7063 or visit the group's Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/groups/ KHAvolunteers

    U3RDAGE

    This not-for-profit group organises activities to keep seniors engaged and promotes lifelong learning.

    Activities include arts and crafts and a seniors-meet-seniors knowledge cafe, where seniors discuss topics such as retirement and end-of-life issues.

    For more information, visit its website at www.u3rdagesingapore.org or e-mail u3a.carol@gmail.com

Ms Soon, who is married with no children, used to teach children with learning difficulties. But she stopped work two years ago owing to the debilitating effects of an auto-immune disease.

Because of her illness and life experiences, she identifies with what she calls "invisible communities", such as the long-staying patients at the Institute of Mental Health, people with disabilities and the destitute.

She said: "We have only one life and we should focus more on relationships and how our lives can make a positive impact on the world."

Marketing manager Novita, 32, joined the group last year as she wanted to spend her free time more meaningfully, rather than shopping or watching Netflix.

 
 
 

She likes the fact that Be Kind SG offers a range of volunteering opportunities. Ms Novita, an Indonesian who goes by one name, takes part in activities such as visits to welfare homes and taking residents out for lunch.

She said: "Without Be Kind SG, I wouldn't be exposed to the homes' residents and it has been an eye-opening experience. It has been meaningful as I have learnt how to empathise with others and I also appreciate things more now."

•For more information, visit the group's Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/BeKindSG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 17, 2018, with the headline 'Giving your time as and when you can'. Print Edition | Subscribe