1. Good evening. It is my pleasure to be here at the MSF Volunteer and Partner Awards 2024.
2. Ladies and gentlemen, the MSF Volunteer and Partner Awards is a special occasion. We all look forward to this every year. We gather to celebrate each and every one of you and the positive impact you make in the lives of others.
3. Over the years, I have personally met some of you and through our conversations, I have been impressed by your generosity and by your commitments. You step up in different ways, working alongside my colleagues in MSF to support those in need. Among us are individuals who serve on our panels to build capabilities in the social service sector, support the rehabilitation of youth, and strengthen social safeguards for problem gambling. There are others who work with us to journey with lower-income families, protect vulnerable groups and promote and build strong and resilient families. We thank you for your steadfast dedication towards building a caring and inclusive society for all.
GROWING THE NEW ‘C’ – COMMUNITY
4. At the launch of the Forward Singapore Festival last year, DPM Lawrence Wong said that the “traditional five Cs” are featuring less and less in how Singaporeans define success. Instead, Singaporeans spoke about other “Cs” that they valued. One new “C”– “Community” – stood out to me. Indeed, success is not just about the ‘me’, but also about the ‘we’. And in Singapore, success is not about achieving self-reliance for ourselves, but also caring for and uplifting one another.
5. And we see this in the spirit of our volunteers who come forward to serve others who are not their kin, but their fellow countrymen who might at first be strangers, but slowly become friends. Individuals who, with their hands, build the caring and inclusive society that we want. Some even serve beyond our shores.
6. We also see this in many corporates who have come forward to uplift those in need. There are those who befriend lower-income families, and support them in their journey to achieve their goals. There are advocates for families who champion initiatives that enable employees to better balance work-life commitments. Others work with vulnerable groups such as at-risk youth to help them gain independence and start afresh.
7. This is a glimpse of Singapore where individuals and companies give back to society and uplift others. Where we find ways to benefit others and help them succeed.
VOLUNTEERISM IN THE SOCIAL SECTOR
8. We have hope of creating meaningful impact and uplifting those in need. Today, volunteerism is more structured and we are moving beyond ad hoc efforts to sustained impact. Volunteers who come forward work hand-in-hand with Government and social service agencies and their time and energies are meaningfully deployed to address needs in the social sector. This is a good development, as it brings better, greater and more meaningful impact to the families we serve.
9. Many volunteers are also offering their skills to serve the social sector, not just in directly benefitting service users but also augmenting the capabilities of the social sector. The many professionals who sit on our Panels, offering their diverse domain expertise, are good examples of this.
10. Volunteers in turn are enriched by their experiences. Many make new friends and pick up new skills. Today, volunteers can access resources during their volunteering journey, whether they wish to learn more about the client group that they are serving or to gain new skills to relate better to them. The e-learning courses at the Social Service Institute has for volunteers is just one example.
11. Volunteerism in the social sector has come a long way indeed.
YEAR OF CELEBRATING VOLUNTEERS
12. To celebrate the progress we have made over the years and to recognise our volunteers, I’m pleased to share that MSF is designating this Year, 2024, as the Year of Celebrating Volunteers.
13. Throughout this year, we want to celebrate volunteering and appreciate our volunteers and the impact that they make on the lives of others. We hope to inspire more to kickstart their volunteering journey. We want to support volunteers in discovering deeper volunteering opportunities.
14. The Year starts at today’s Awards Ceremony, where we present 298 awards to our volunteers and partners.
15. One outstanding volunteer that we honour today is Dr S. Vasoo. Dr Vasoo, whom many would know as the “father of community work”, has been a constant presence in Singapore’s social service landscape, having devoted his whole life to uplifting others. As a firm believer in the power of community, Dr Vasoo played a key role in starting the first Volunteer Service Bureau in 1976, the foundation stone to the volunteer movement in the social service sector today. As one who always believes in the passion and skills of volunteers, he mobilised countless volunteers to step forward. At one point he even had volunteers running two nursing homes for the aged sick and had senior volunteers manage a hotline to support other seniors. Dr Vasoo has also actively supported many social purpose entities, such as MINDSG, Down Syndrome Association, and ACE Seniors. As an educator in NUS, Dr Vasoo has played a part in nurturing generations of social workers. Thank you, Dr Vasoo.
16. Many of you have similar stories of the ways in which you have gone the extra mile to serve others. I express my heartfelt thanks to each and every one of you.
17. For Tze Yong and Jessica, volunteers from OCBC, volunteering means journeying together with a ComLink+ family, Mr Goh and his two daughters. Over the past 10 months as befrienders, they have built rapport with the family, were there with the family in their celebration of special moments, and have availed themselves to support Mr Goh who needs help in managing his finances.
18. Likewise for Phyllis, a mentor at Beautiful People which supports girls at the Singapore Girls’ Home. Phyllis has been supporting several mentees, guiding them through their rehabilitation and reintegration journey and being a supportive adult figure who is by their side through the ups and downs of life. Even after formally graduating from the programme, many of Phyllis’ mentees continue to keep in touch with her, showing the immense impact that a volunteer can have on the lives of others.
19. We recognise these two organisations and their volunteers today, OCBC and Beautiful People, who are our Community Cares and Friends of MSF awardees respectively. Thank you.
20. Throughout this year of YCVolunteers, we will continue to cast a spotlight on volunteers and the impact that you make.
21. Many of our volunteers have expressed a desire to be better connected with fellow volunteers. We set up the MSFCare Network in 2022 for volunteers like yourselves to connect with each other and explore volunteering opportunities across the MSF family. We will do more this year to step up our engagement and support for volunteers in the MSFCare Network.
LAUNCH OF VOLUNTEER DEVELOPMENT GUIDE
22. In addition to volunteers who serve alongside MSF, there are many volunteers who serve with social service agencies in the broader sector.
23. We must work to ensure that the volunteer experience is a meaningful one for these volunteers too. We are proud that the volunteer management capabilities of SSAs have grown over the years and today there are dedicated volunteer managers who work to develop meaningful roles for volunteers and amplify the impact of their organisations.
24. There is great potential to harness the energies and abilities of volunteers to better serve service users in social sector. To further support social service agencies in deepening their volunteer management capabilities, I am pleased to launch a new Volunteer Development Guide. This guide offers insights into the different domains of volunteer development, based on best practices, and practical tips on how social service agencies can weave these into their practices.
25. For instance, volunteer managers can learn about ways to create enhanced volunteer roles and development pathways to equip volunteers to take on larger roles. Ultimately, the Guide will support SSAs in developing a more fulfilling volunteer experience.
SUSTAINABLE PHILANTHROPY FRAMEWORK
26. Ladies and gentlemen, over the years, many corporates have come forward, providing opportunities for families in need, and leveraging their skills to support the social service sector. We want to recognise such corporates. Therefore, we are developing the Sustainable Philanthropy Framework. The framework will provide corporates with standardised metrics to measure, monitor, and benchmark their social impact and enable them to fulfil their social and business goals more effectively. Volunteerism will be a key component of social impact in this Framework. We are in the midst of engaging stakeholders on the Framework and plan to launch it middle of the year.
CONCLUSION – CELEBRATING OUR MSF VOLUNTEERS
27. In closing, the society we have is the one we build together. Let us come together and work in common purpose to uplift those in need. Let us keep ablaze the spirit of volunteerism in the social sector.
28. Once again, congratulations to all recipients.
29. I wish you an enjoyable evening ahead.