YMCA sets up fund to finance community service projects

The fund will help people such as Ms Zanariyah Mohamed Abzul, 38, a housekeeper at the YMCA@One Orchard hotel who has mild intellectual disability. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG
The fund will help people such as Ms Zanariyah Mohamed Abzul, 38, a housekeeper at the YMCA@One Orchard hotel who has mild intellectual disability. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

It aims to raise $3m to benefit people with special needs, out-of-school and at-risk youth, underprivileged families

A new charity fund has been set up to help finance community service programmes to benefit people with special needs, out-of-school youth, at-risk youth and underprivileged families.

The YMCA Community Services Fund, which aims to raise $3 million for the association's community service programmes, was officially launched yesterday.

The Young Men's Christian Association is looking for 200 donors who will donate $10,000 or more. The number 200 was chosen to mark Singapore's bicentennial.

More than 13 community service programmes will benefit from the fund, which was launched during the YMCA Giving Gala 2019 at Parkroyal On Pickering.

The programmes include Project Bridge, which helps out-of-school and at-risk youth integrate back into society, and Faces, which provides short-term emergency financial aid to needy families and sources work and training opportunities for individuals with special needs.

The fund will help people such as Ms Zanariyah Mohamed Abzul, 38, a housekeeper at the YMCA@One Orchard hotel who has mild intellectual disability.

She has taken part in many YMCA programmes, such as the Y Camp Challenge - an outdoor adventure programme for those with special needs - which she attended about five years ago.

She has since participated in YMCA's arts and crafts sessions, dance performances and volunteer work, all of which helped to developing her sense of independence, communication and social skills.

After struggling to get a job, she found work as a cleaner for a few months before landing the housekeeper job at the hotel two years ago.

She said she enjoys being a housekeeper, where her duties include doing the laundry, folding towels and making the beds. "I like to make the guests happy," she said.

PEOPLE WITH SPECIAL ABILITIES

Working with so many of these wonderful individuals has reinforced to me that they are beyond persons with special needs, but persons with special abilities.

MR STEVE LOH, YMCA chief executive and general secretary.

YMCA executive housekeeper Rajakumari said that Ms Zanariyah was timid and shy when she just joined them, and would sometimes throw tantrums.

"We coached her along, groomed her and watched her transform into a completely different person. She is good at her housekeeping duties and is a joy to work with," she added.

YMCA chief executive and general secretary Steve Loh said: "Working with so many of these wonderful individuals has reinforced to me that they are beyond persons with special needs, but persons with special abilities.

"They bring about an element of true inclusivity to an organisation."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 03, 2019, with the headline 'YMCA sets up fund to finance community service projects'. Print Edition | Subscribe