Volunteers who were once charity beneficiaries pass it on

Ms Callie Ng and Mr P. Ramesh are among the 1,500 volunteers involved in the many programmes that Care Corner Singapore offers.
Ms Callie Ng and Mr P. Ramesh are among the 1,500 volunteers involved in the many programmes that Care Corner Singapore offers. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

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 youths at risk when he was 15, and met a mentor who saw what he was capable of and taught him life skills.

Three years later, Mr Ramesh began volunteering with a similar programme at a youth centre to 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 youths at risk, while mentoring them the way he once was.

He is one of Care Corner Singapore's many volunteers recognised at its Together We RISE Community Carnival & Volunteers Day yesterday. President Halimah Yacob and Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong attended the event at the 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 one at Crossroad Youth Centre whose team Mr Ramesh coaches, and the Light Up Children's programme that Ms Callie Ng, 17, volunteers with.

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.

At the carnival, there were 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.

"Volunteers share their knowledge and skills with our children from disadvantaged backgrounds. They are role models and mentors to at-risk youths we serve," said Care Corner chairman Yong Lum Sung. "They are friends who lend their listening ears to families and individuals in challenging times."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 17, 2019, with the headline 'Volunteers who were once charity beneficiaries pass it on'. Print Edition | Subscribe