Chai Chee resident Low Chin Hwee has weathered many setbacks in life, but the 66-year-old maintains a sunny disposition.
The years have been tough on Mr Low, who was forced into early retirement at age 40 after a stroke. He now gets by with a monthly allowance of $500 under the public assistance scheme.
But he said: "I have a positive outlook on life and I am happy… I will not sit around at home and mope over how lonely I feel or how financially dependent I am as I feel that having that attitude is not helpful."
Mr Low is one of some 120 beneficiaries who had their homes tidied and repainted by volunteers yesterday. More than 1,000 people from all walks of life took part in one of Singapore's largest coordinated clean-up events, Home Sweep Home, in Redhill, Chai Chee and Toa Payoh.
"I volunteered as I wanted to use this particular opportunity to give back and make a difference in the lives of others," said Ms Agnes Lim, 28, a headhunter who spent her Saturday morning repainting the homes of elderly residents.
Besides reducing clutter at some homes, volunteers also bagged up litter in the housing estates. Yevin Ngar, 15, a Secondary 3 student, said: "I had fun picking up litter and we could also bond as a family. "
Organised by the non-profit Habitat for Humanity Singapore, the inaugural event aims for a cleaner and healthier city, starting with improving the living conditions of vulnerable elderly residents.
Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin, who was the guest of honour at the event, said: "As we begin to help and volunteer, I think we also begin to change, we learn to be circumspect about our own lives but more importantly, it gives us an avenue to love and care with compassion," he said.
Those looking to make a difference can join weekly clean-up sessions called Project HomeWorks.