Volunteers who received guidance as teens now mentor other at-risk youth with Care Corner

Care Corner Singapore volunteers Callie Ng and P. Ramesh.
Care Corner Singapore volunteers Callie Ng and P. Ramesh.ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

SINGAPORE - He grew up in a troubled neighbourhood with gang-related and substance abuse issues, but a football intervention programme at a youth centre helped to set him on the right path.

Mr P. Ramesh joined the programme for youth at risk when he was 15, and met a mentor who saw what he was capable of and groomed him and taught him life skills.

Three years later, Mr Ramesh began volunteering with a similar programme at a youth centre to help mentor other teens.

Now 39, the head of international marketing at private education institute PSB Academy has spent many years volunteering as a football coach for youth at risk, while mentoring them the way he once was helped.

Mr Ramesh was one of Care Corner Singapore's many volunteers recognised at its Together We RISE Community Carnival and Volunteers Day on Saturday (Nov 16). President Halimah Yacob and Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong attended the event, which was held at HDB Hub in Toa Payoh.

Last year, Care Corner, a non-profit charity, helped more than 14,000 people, from children to senior citizens.

It has about 1,500 volunteers in 33 centres across its many programmes, such as the football programme at Crossroad Youth Centre whose team Mr Ramesh coaches, and the Light Up Children's programme, in which 17-year-old Callie Ng is involved.

Ms Ng, who is studying for a diploma in early childhood education at Temasek Polytechnic, used to be a part of the same programme when she was in Primary 5 and 6.

The programme involved academic coaching and one-to-one mentoring.

Said Ms Ng: "My mentor was someone I could talk to about anything. I saw her as an older sister, when I couldn't really talk to my family."

 
 
 

She has two siblings - an older sister, 21, and a younger brother, 11.

The programme also helped to pull up her mathematics grades, as she improved from failing to a C at the Primary School Leaving Examination.

"It is nice to give back to the place that I benefited from, and I hope to have the same impact that my mentor had on me," said Ms Ng.

The carnival saw a series of performances by staff and volunteers, as well as those who take part in Care Corner programmes. There was also a photography exhibition featuring the contributions of staff and volunteers.

The event was also a platform to recruit volunteers.

Care Corner chairman Yong Lum Sung said: "Volunteers share their knowledge and skills with our children from disadvantaged backgrounds. They are role models and mentors to at-risk youth we serve.

"They are friends who lend their listening ears to families and individuals in challenging times."