Anyone heading for lunch at Roland Restaurant on March 4, a regular Thursday afternoon, was in for a surprise. The restaurant, located at Marine Parade Central and famous for its seafood, Cantonese and dim sum dishes, was packed with senior citizens, who took up 31 tables.
The beaming elderly were there to attend The Pine Luncheon Gathering organized by City Harvest Dialect Church, in collaboration with Family Care-Corner, Toa Payoh CareLink and SARAH Senior Activity Centre. The entire luncheon was generously sponsored by Roland Restaurant.
The Pine Luncheon Gathering was organized with the purpose of giving a treat to dialect -speaking elderly folk in Singapore, particularly those living in one-room rented flats.
Pine symbolizes intelligence, understanding, inner strength, evergreen and longevity. The Pine Lunch Gathering, therefore, was held to honor the elderly for all their contributions toward society, and to celebrate their lives—past, present and future.
Judging by the smiles on their faces, the beneficiaries evidently appreciated the kind gesture and the sumptuous lunch spread. “This is the best meal I’ve ever had for so many years,” remarked one 86-year old lady. Although the Lunar New Year was long past, the lunch featured a lo hei, just so that the elderly could have a chance to enjoy tossing the yu sheng, since many of them had not done so in a long while.
The day’s program included more than just lunch—there were games as well, held to engage the elderly in creative play. This included a Hokkien sing-along session by the volunteers, and many of the elderly joined in and sang their hearts out.
Next was an interesting session on deciphering some simple Chinese characters, in line with Bible scriptures. For example, Chinese word “来” in pictorial form is a cross with three persons—“人”. The “人” in the center symbolizes Jesus, while the other two “人” at the side symbolizes the two men that hung on the cross with Jesus on Mount Calvary. The session aroused the interest and attention of the crowd and many of them were still talking about it long after the lunch was over.
“The luncheon was a huge success,” said organizer Maria Tok. “After seeing how much they enjoyed themselves today, we are planning to hold more of such get-togethers for senior citizens.”
|CN PHOTOS: Tan Song Kow|
An event such as this requires no small amount of manpower. What was particularly impressive was the fact that many of the volunteers took leave from work just to help to transport the elderly to and from the luncheon. And some of the elderly came to attend the luncheon despite the fact it caused them some inconvenience.
Said one 68-year-old elderly, Zhang, “I would have been cooped up in my home this afternoon if not for the help of the volunteers who ferried me here on my wheelchair, just so that I would be able to enjoy the lunch.”
“It is only with the help of so many community-minded individuals, like restaurant owners Roland and Richard Lim and all the volunteers who took precious time off, that we could afford to organize this lunch on a larger scale,” said Tok, expressing her gratitude.