Ms Connie Tham
Volunteering since April 2019
I had a lot of time after I retired in November 2018. My training in Human Resource and years of work experience taught me the necessity of staying active to keep a healthy mind and body. Hence, I looked into volunteering and signed up for Episodic volunteering opportunities at RSVP Singapore. I formally joined RSVP Singapore in March 2019 and began actively participating in their activities later in May 2019.
I have grown to prefer volunteering activities which are engaging, useful to beneficiaries, and where I get to help people. I especially have a passion for helping people with mobility issues and have a keen interest in gaining health knowledge.
I started volunteering in the Episodic Programme by bringing seniors for outings to places such as Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum, Chinatown Heritage Centre, and Indian Heritage Centre. I later joined the Silver Trident Programme, Enriching Lives of Seniors Programme (ELSP) and Senior Guiding Programme.
In the Silver Trident programme, I worked with medical students to visit socially isolated elderly patients. We monitored and assessed the health and living conditions of these seniors and taught them exercises to improve their health. There were also multi-disciplinary meetings with medical professionals to discuss intervention plans. These meetings exposed me to a wealth of healthcare related knowledge. I even learned how to perform blood glucose and blood pressure tests. When COVID-19 struck, we had to continue the project remotely and switched to phone calls instead of home visits. Our final multi-disciplinary meeting was also conducted on Zoom. I was initially not familiar with the platform at all and these experiences inspired me to pick up IT skills again.
In ELSP, my team engaged seniors at Orange Valley Woodlands Peak Senior Activity Centre. Having an introverted nature, I was initially shy. My confidence gradually built up after I engaged the seniors week after week. We conducted exercises, singing sessions and cognitive activities. I even learned how to download music and play them for the seniors. I also learned to be engaging with our songs. Initially, the seniors were sedentary – they simply sat and listened to the songs. By inviting them to dance with me, this made them more active. I learned to think ahead and adapt our activities according to the needs and physical abilities of our beneficiaries.
In the Senior Guiding Programme, I shared South East Asian contemporary art pieces with members of the public at the Singapore Art Museum. Each art piece carries a different story – ranging from myths and folktales to photographs of distinctive communities and even sculptures made from human skin. I have always loved folktales since young and was drawn to the opportunity to guide artist Rodel Tapaya’s depiction of the fables and folklore of the Philippines. My guiding experience taught me the value of making contemporary art relatable to the audience.
Every volunteering opportunity is an opportunity to acquire new knowledge, skills and ability. ELSP has increased my knowledge about seniors and strengthened my self-confidence, while the Silver Trident and Age Well Everyday Programme have increased my knowledge of how to live and prospering after retirement. Indeed, volunteering at RSVP Singapore has value-added greatly to me. I am passionate about volunteering and will continue to volunteer because I believe in a “stay healthy” mindset. I believe that if the volunteering activity is meaningful, the effort we put in will always be worth it.