Our Inspiring Volunteers
Friends and Colleagues
The video we just watched is a reminder of the challenges all of you volunteers face. There are times when you are not appreciated. You may even be rejected by the very people you are trying to help, or blamed for not doing enough. Sometimes, you can also get emotionally exploited by those whom you are helping. Indeed, it can be tough to care for others. But many of you do not give up. You carry on by reaching out to those in need, and often in their darkest hours.
A very good evening to everyone.
This is why it is important for us to recognise and celebrate our volunteers, and to share their inspiring stories so that more can follow in their footsteps. I am deeply honoured and inspired to be in your company. I am deeply inspired also by your dedication and actions, and it is through this action in many ways that you are helping us build a more caring and compassionate society.
I am so glad to see such overwhelming response this year, so much so that we have run out of space and some of you have to be seated in Nassim Room upstairs. Everyone, please wave to our friends upstairs. Your presence is no less appreciated!
First, we thank 223 Long Service Volunteers for their tireless contributions. The longest serving volunteer is Madam Thiravingadam, who has been a foster parent for 40 years. To date, she has fostered 42 children. I am happy that we are honouring many other foster parents tonight as well. Thank you for all your care and your efforts in looking after the many vulnerable children over the years. More importantly, I hope that many more Singaporeans can come forward to help in this area. We do really want more children to be in foster homes as opposed to being in institutional homes.
Next, we show appreciation to 14 “Friends of MSF”. This award is given out to individuals or organisations for making significant contributions in committees or projects under MSF. You have enriched the lives of those in need, and given them strength to carry on.
Mr Low has ferried many children with strong emotional needs. Despite this, he remained patient and understanding, even going beyond the call of duty to encourage and guide the children. Over time, he has become a supportive mentor and father figure to them.
Mr Low is still going strong today. For Mr Low’s unwavering dedication and commitment, we thank you.
Tonight, we also pay tribute to our Outstanding Volunteers. They have been close partners with MSF over the years, and made exceptional contributions towards the success of many programmes and projects.
- Mr Ashraf Koh & Madam Asiah Binte Mohamed Salleh – they have been foster parents for 11 years, caring for teenagers and a child with special needs
- Mr Cyril Chua Yeow Hooi – who has played a pivotal role in helping the Law Society to provide pro bono legal services to lower income families. Cyril is also Chairman of the Ang Mo Kio Family Service Centre Community Services.
- Mr Gerard Nonis & Madam Susanna Daniels – who have been affectionate foster parents of 14 years. They have also helped my colleagues to raise awareness about fostering so that more vulnerable children can benefit from foster care.
- Professor Ho Lai Yun – who has helped to groom and build a pipeline of leaders for the social service sector. Prof Ho has led strong efforts to upgrade the professional and service qualities and capabilities of our Voluntary Welfare Organisations.
- Professor Lim Pin – Chairman of the Board for the Special Needs Trust Company, for his pioneering work in providing trust services for people with special needs, and their caregivers.
- Mr Noel Hon – for recognising and contributing to the success of many outstanding social enterprises in Singapore as chairman of the ComCare Enterprise Fund.
- Mr Tan Thian Huat & Madam Chan Foong Yeew Mary – for their extraordinary love and tireless dedication to giving their foster son, who had multiple congenital disorders, a happier life. I am saddened to hear that their beloved foster son, whom they fostered when he was 2 months old, passed away at the age of 13 in April this year.
Finally, we show appreciation to 8 volunteers who were conferred National Day Awards this year. They have contributed exemplary service to Singapore. We have:
Please join me in giving all our volunteers a very big round of applause! Your biggest endorsement that will honour them would be to step forward yourselves to also make a difference to many others in our society.
Our volunteers come from all walks of life. They have shown that every one of us can play a part and help those in need. Service changes lives – for both the volunteer and the beneficiary. It does not just touch the hearts of those who are served. It nourishes the souls of those who serve.
Many of us talk about social issues, deeply and passionately. But somehow, we hesitate when we are asked to step forward. We sometimes feel inadequate and unsure if we have the abilities to make a difference. We sometimes fear if we would not be able to keep to our commitment. We often feel that we do not have enough time because of our other responsibilities…and if we are really honest about it, perhaps there are other more important things that we prefer to do. I think it is good that we talk about issues and that we have very passionate debates – but I think we need to go beyond talk and begin to think about how each and every one of us can take action together, and how as a society we can all collectively step forward.
Well, the volunteers we are honouring tonight all started by taking that first step. Perhaps it was just to talk to someone who has difficulties, and that is something all of us can do. They chose to care. And to love others beyond themselves.
I call upon our schools to carry out the Values in Action programme well. It is good that we have this program, and that MOE is placing an emphasis on it. We must make it a powerful learning journey for generations upon generations of school children. Can you imagine what kind of impact it can have on our society? I call upon our companies to look at Corporate Social Responsibility (or CSR) not just from a corporate branding angle alone, but to consider how it is one way in which companies can shape our society. I call upon our community to actively play a part in our own neighbourhood to look out for those amongst us, our neighbours, people whom we meet in our own community who might need that helping hand. I call upon our VWOs and stakeholders on the ground to organise ourselves to be able to take in these volunteers who do come forward. To make sure that they all have a rich and meaningful experience.
Truth is, I call upon all of us to take that single step forward. Even as we talk about society and even as we talk about organizations, it is very much still about individuals in their respective positions. And I ask all of us as Singaporeans, to consider what it takes to put a step forward because collectively, we can all begin to transform lives for the better. Together, our humanity and compassion can define us. Both as individuals and as a single voice. Putting these values into action, that is where we can begin to build a caring and more compassionate society. And in so doing, we are laying the foundations of a great nation, one that will endure and one that will be truly be home to us all.
To all our award recipients and to many of you who volunteer, thank you so much for caring and loving. Thank you for showing us how we can rise above ourselves.