Senior volunteers recognised for contributions to the community

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth and Second Minister for Law Edwin Tong (second from right) commended the volunteers for their efforts.
Minister for Culture, Community and Youth and Second Minister for Law Edwin Tong (second from right) commended the volunteers for their efforts.PHOTO: RSVP SINGAPORE

SINGAPORE - From volunteering at Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital and the Indian Heritage Centre, to serving as a receptionist for one of non-profit organisation RSVP Singapore's programmes, 67-year-old Tai Yen Keong keeps himself busy serving others.

On Tuesday (March 9), he was one of nine volunteers recognised for their contributions to the community at the annual RSVP's Volunteer Appreciation Day event, which was held at its Bishan office.

The organisation for senior volunteers holds the event to show appreciation to the roughly 600 active and dedicated senior volunteers who serve the community through its programmes.

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth and Second Minister for Law Edwin Tong, who was the guest of honour, commended the volunteers for their efforts.

"Every senior is a precious resource to this community. Your wisdom, your years of experience, your own experience as you've gone through life is tremendously invaluable.

"And particularly when it comes to mentoring young people who don't have the same breadth of experiences as you," he said.

Aside from seniors, including those socially isolated, RSVP Singapore serves at-risk primary school children from low-income families and also mental health patients under rehabilitation.

Said Mr Tong: "Being a volunteer will provide you with opportunities to remain socially and mentally active in your silver years, and I think that's very important. Both my parents are retirees, I encourage them to do things outside their comfort zone as well.

"And I think it keeps them engaged, keeps them focused. It also gives them a strong sense of self worth."

Mr Tai, who received the Volunteer of the Year Award 2019, is involved in many of the organisation's activities.

"I was actually surprised that I won the award because I just wanted to give back to society so I was not expecting it. Every volunteer counts in RSVP, and I'm honoured to receive this award," said the retiree who previously worked in the shipping and freight forwarding industry.

RSVP presented awards for both 2019 and 2020 on Tuesday, as the appreciation day last year was cancelled due to Covid-19.

There were nine award recipients at the event this year from three award categories: Special Commendation Award, Volunteer of the Year Award and Emeritus Award.

During the circuit breaker last year, RSVP kick-started a series of weekly activities in April 2020 titled "#StayHomeWithRSVP", to keep its senior participants and volunteers engaged.

In eight months, 50 volunteers carried out over 50 activities through Zoom, Facebook Live or video tutorials for over 1,000 seniors.

RSVP chairman Koh Juay Meng said: "Despite the challenges of Covid-19, I'm heartened that our senior volunteers are very eager to continue volunteering and have done so with safety measures in place.

"Our shift towards digitalising our service and programmes is an on-going process and we are proud that we are nimble enough to adapt to this change."

LISTEN TO THE BIG STORY PODCAST