New YMCA charity fund to support those with special needs, youth at-risk and underprivileged families

(From left) YMCA CEO and general secretary Steve Loh, Temasek Holdings chairman Lim Boon Heng, YMCA President Albert Ching and YMCA Giving Gala Chairman Jimmie Tay launch the YMCA Community Services Fund on Dec 2, 2019. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

SINGAPORE - A new charity fund has been set up to help finance community service programmes to benefit people with special needs, out-of-school youth, youth at-risk and underprivileged families.

The YMCA Community Services Fund, which aims to raise $3 million for the association's community service programmes, was officially launched on Monday (Dec 2).

The YMCA is looking for 200 donors who will donate $10,000 or more. The number 200 was chosen to mark Singapore's bicentennial.

More than 13 community services programmes will benefit from the fund, which was launched at the YMCA Giving Gala 2019 at the Parkroyal on Pickering hotel.

The programmes include Project Bridge, which helps out to out-of-school youths and youths-at-risk integrate back into society, and Faces, which provides short-term emergency financial aid to needy families, and sources work and training opportunities for individuals with special needs.

The fund will help people such as Ms Zanariyah Mohamed Abzul, 38, a housekeeper at the YMCA @ One Orchard hotel who has mild intellectual disability.

She has taken part in many YMCA programmes, such as the Y Camp Challenge, an outdoor adventure programme for those with special needs that she attended about five years ago.

She has since participated in YMCA's arts and crafts sessions, dance performances and volunteer work, all of which contributed to developing her sense of independence, communication and social skills.

After struggling to get a job, she found work as a cleaner for a few months before landing the housekeeper role with the YMCA two years ago.

The fund will help people such as Ms Zanariyah Mohamed Abzul, a housekeeper at the YMCA @ One Orchard hotel who has mild intellectual disability. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

She said she enjoys being a housekeeper, where her duties include doing the laundry, folding towels and making up the beds.

"I like to make the guests happy," she said.

YMCA executive housekeeper Rajakumari said Ms Zanariyah was timid and shy when she first joined, and would sometimes throw tantrums.

"We coached her along, groomed her and watched her transform into a completely different person.

"She is good at her housekeeping duties and is a joy to work with," she added.

YMCA CEO and general secretary Steve Loh said: "Working with so many of these wonderful individuals has reinforced to me that they are beyond persons with special needs, but persons with special abilities.

"They bring about an element of true inclusivity to an organisation."

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