People with special needs host YMCA gala dinner to raise funds for others like themselves

Members from Y STARS (YMCA Special Talents, Arts and Recreation Society) performing at the YMCA Giving Gala 2018. ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

SINGAPORE - Mr Michael Ang, 23, wore a bright smile as he greeted guests and ushered them to the registration table.

This was a milestone for Mr Ang, who has special needs and works as a waiter at Y-Cafe, which is run by YMCA.

It was the first time that people like Mr Ang were hosting a YMCA gala dinner to raise funds for others like himself.

Nineteen special needs staff members and beneficiaries from YMCA helped to host the annual YMCA Giving Gala 2018, held at Parkroyal on Pickering hotel on Monday (Oct 22).

These hosts served various roles as registration staff, ushers and cocktail reception waiters. They were also at the frontline interacting with guests.

"I volunteered to help today because I want to help people. I like to meet new people and greet them," Mr Ang said.

"Although it was a bit hard to talk to so many new people, I learnt how to interact with others and it made me feel happy and more confident."

Speaking at the event, President Halimah Yacob said: "I am glad that we have given our friends with special needs an opportunity to express themselves. They may have special needs, but they also have special talents and abilities."

She also launched the Y Arts Exhibition, where artwork created by Y Arts Challenge beneficiaries will be sold and displayed permanently at YMCA @ One Orchard Road.

President Halimah Yacob at the preview of the Y Arts Exhibition. ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

The Y Arts Challenge uses dance, performing and visual arts to engage children and youths who are underprivileged, intellectually challenged or hearing-impaired.

Madam Halimah added: "In building a caring society, corporate organisations are also important stakeholders. They can forge a stronger culture of caring and help deepen this sense of social responsibility among their employees."

Around 200 guests attended the Giving Gala this year.

The fund-raising dinner aims to raise $330,000 for the YMCA-Tan Chin Tuan Community Service Programmes. Proceeds from the event will also help fundprogrammes for the beneficiaries.

YMCA president Leslie Wong said: "My fellow volunteers and I believe that it is in serving together that we have a better chance of seeing the best in one another. Furthermore, the friends and guests that we help are also able to give encouragement and love back to us, in the form of smiles, words and laughter, which makes service so meaningful."

In a statement to the media, YMCA said it hopes to strengthen and expand its special needs employment and training arm. It has 11 special needs staff members who are now employed.

It aims to have more persons with special needs working at YMCA by working with more social service organisation partners to teach necessary workplace skills to these persons.

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