YMCA community heroes lauded for their efforts during pandemic

Sea Wheel Travel's transport manager Goh Jin Xiong (right) receives the YMCA-Lim Kim San Volunteer Exceptional Award from YMCA CEO and general secretary Steve Loh on Dec 3, 2020. PHOTO: YMCA
SMU student Heng Jun Jie receives the YMCA-Lim Kim San Volunteer Excellence Award from YMCA CEO and general secretary Steve Loh on Dec 3, 2020. PHOTO: YMCA

SINGAPORE - Transport manager Goh Jin Xiong was so concerned that elderly folk might not be getting enough food to eat when the pandemic hit that he started delivering hundreds of hawker meals, rain, hail or shine.

The initiative was part of the YMCA's Wok the Talk project that saw volunteers like Mr Goh distribute around 70,000 meals to vulnerable groups between May and July.

Mr Goh, the transport manager at Sea Wheel Travel agency, said: "During the circuit breaker, most food centres and daycare centres were closed. The elderly who live alone might not be fit enough to cook for themselves, and there's no one to take care of them.

"There were tough days where I had to deliver over 30 packets of food across 10 HDB blocks in the rain. But the hard work is all worth when I see the elderly folk waiting for me."

His 100 or so hours of effort to help elderly folk earned Mr Goh the YMCA-Lim Kim San Volunteer Exceptional Award at the virtual YMCA-Lim Kim San Volunteer Awards on Thursday (Dec 3).

The inaugural award, which celebrates people who have contributed immensely to Covid-19 relief efforts, is named after Singapore's first finance minister, Mr Lim Kim San, who was an honorary life member of the YMCA and a strong advocate of volunteerism.

Mr Goh, 35, was among the 96 award winners, which included corporations, educational institutions and individuals that gave their time to charitable causes.

Mr Eric Chua, the Parliamentary Secretary for Culture, Community and Youth as well as for Social and Family Development, thanked the 6,000 volunteers for serving 23,000 beneficiaries and contributing over 89,000 volunteer hours over the past year.

"This year, the Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted all our lives. Vulnerable communities, in particular, face greater challenges because of the restrictions in movement and increased health risks," he said at the awards ceremony.

"In these difficult times, it is heartening to see so many of you reaching out to support our friends and neighbours."

Fourth-year Singapore Management University student Heng Jun Jie, 25, who received the YMCA-Lim Kim San Volunteer Excellence Award for leading volunteer projects in Singapore and overseas, said: "There's a warm feeling I get when kids ask me when I'm coming back again to volunteer, when the elderly folk talk to you like you're their own son and when migrant workers are happy with the initiatives my team and I put together.

"Knowing that I'm spending my time meaningfully and doing good for the community is what keeps me going."

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