Ms Janet Teoh
Volunteering with RSVP since 2015
I have worked as a nurse for all my life-giving and caring for people. Now that I am almost in my 80s, I still wanted to continue to serve the society. In August 2014, RSVP Singapore gave me the opportunity to volunteer with them even though I did not have any prior volunteering experience.
I first heard about RSVP when a friend of mine introduced to me a volunteer who was volunteering with RSVP Singapore back then. It was the stories the volunteer shared that got me intrigued to join them. Besides travelling to keep myself physically active, I thought I should keep myself mentally active as well, something that volunteering helped tremendously. It was because of these experiences in RSVP that I was able to meet new people and share my past experiences and ideas with my clients.
Currently, the two programs that I am volunteering in are the Mentally Disadvantaged Outreach Programme (MDOP) at Anglican Care Centre – Bukit Batok and the Enriching Lives of Seniors Programme (ELSP) at Pioneer 8 and 9 RCs.
Through volunteering, I got to participate in fun and exciting activities with clients such as dancing, singing, Sudoku, and arts & crafts. One of the most memorable times I had was spending time with a client who used to be a kindergarten teacher and is skilled in handicraft and drawing. She was so proficient that all of us used her work as a guideline. Sometimes, she even impressed me with things I never knew about.
Personally, I faced challenges in communicating with MDOP clients, as they tend to have a shorter attention span and would require more effort or energy to revert them back to the activities they were doing. One time during the art and craft sessions, the clients were too distracted and only did some doodling or scathed some lines on the paper, but I held their hands and started drawing together with them. A lot of patients, understanding, and effort are put into knowing how to communicate with them so that they are heard for who they really are.
Ever since the COVID-19 outbreak began, I found myself missing the clients a lot more because the activities have been suspended. I really look forward to going back to the centres and conducting the activities with the clients again. I hope that my story can inspire others to be part of the RSVP Singapore volunteering journey. I feel empowered in giving back to society despite my age. It has given me the confidence I never knew I had and taught me to be more receptive to people and be able to better interact with them.