New volunteer centre in Sembawang aims to recruit residents to help community

Minister Ong Ye Kung (second from right) at the launch of the volunteer centre with Blossom Seeds CEO Ong Siew Chin (in purple) and MCCY deputy secretary Philip Ong (right). PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - Sembawang residents can now find more opportunities to help in their community with the launch of a new volunteer centre on Saturday (April 16).

Launched by the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth's SG Cares office and active ageing charity Blossom Seeds, the Sembawang centre is one of 24 across Singapore which have been set up to promote consistent volunteerism and engage seniors who are keen to give back to their community.

Health Minister Ong Ye Kung, who was the guest of honour at the launch on Saturday, noted how volunteer centres address the need for consistency and sustainability in volunteering.

"More people are now willing to volunteer and contribute to their community, but it is not easy to figure out where to go, and not all community organisations are able to take in volunteers. A centre like this helps facilitate the process by linking various community partners," he said.

"We shall not want to reject any volunteers, anyone with a heart to serve. We must find you a place where you can contribute and help others. That's what we want to achieve," added Mr Ong, who is also an MP for Sembawang GRC.

Set up in 2013, Blossom Seeds engages seniors and volunteers through community initiatives such as befriending programmes, and escort and transport arrangements to take seniors to their medical appointments. As at last year, the charity had 390 volunteers.

Blossom Seeds chief executive Ong Siew Chin said: "At the SG Cares volunteer centre at Sembawang, we hope to inspire and equip young people and retirees to reach for greatness through service in their community."

Retiree Jessie Tay, 64, who volunteers with Blossom Seeds as a medical escort to accompany seniors to their medical appointments, said: "I wish to stay active by serving the community. I will continue to volunteer in the medical escort and transport programme, as there is still lots for me to learn in terms of communicating with beneficiaries and how to manage wheelchair users."

At the event, Mr Ong, who contracted dengue fever several days ago, also gave an update on his health. He said his blood platelet count is up and he is feeling better.

He reminded residents to be wary of mosquito breeding near their homes, as the Aedes mosquitoes are responsible for carrying and spreading the dengue virus.

"Mostly, (mosquitoes) grow in clean water, they grow at home, in your corridors or your balcony. So I wanted to put out a health message to tell people to be careful in their homes," he said, referring to his Facebook post on Friday.

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