Special night for team with special needs

Mr John Ngu Dao Xin offering President Halimah Yacob cookies made by trainees from APSN Centre for Adults and YMCA volunteers. With him are Ms Lun Ting Yuan and Mr Ling Lee Min. Nineteen special needs staff and beneficiaries from YMCA helped to host
Mr John Ngu Dao Xin offering President Halimah Yacob cookies made by trainees from APSN Centre for Adults and YMCA volunteers. With him are Ms Lun Ting Yuan and Mr Ling Lee Min. Nineteen special needs staff and beneficiaries from YMCA helped to host the annual YMCA Giving Gala last night.ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

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 the YMCA of Singapore.

It was the first time that people with special needs like Mr Ang were hosting a gala dinner to raise funds for their community.

Nineteen special needs staff and beneficiaries from YMCA helped to host the annual YMCA Giving Gala 2018, held at Parkroyal on Pickering hotel yesterday.

These hosts served as registration staff, ushers and cocktail reception waiters.

They were also at the front line interacting with guests.

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

 
 
 

President Halimah Yacob, the guest of honour at last night's event, 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.

The Y Arts Challenge uses dance, performance and visual arts to engage children and youth who are underprivileged, intellectually challenged or have hearing disabilities.

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 this year's Giving Gala.

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

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

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 23, 2018, with the headline 'Special night for team with special needs'. Print Edition | Subscribe