Elderly residents experienced a round-the-world trip in just 80 minutes at House Of JOY’s first-ever event.
Contributed By Delvina Su
Fancy having Scottish shortbread with Korean ginseng tea while watching a Hawaiian dance? A hundred and twenty elderly persons got to do just that on July 16 when volunteers from the Community Outreach Programme for the Elderly and The Royal Bank of Scotland treated them to “a trip around the world” in 80 minutes.
The RBS-sponsored event, put together by 40 RBS staff volunteers, was the first activity to be held at House Of JOY, an elder-care center set up by COPE, an arm of City Harvest Community Services Association.
Before the event, the RBS team worked tirelessly to raise funds. Leela Yeung, RBS’s APEC representative, said, “We held activities such as a charity bowling tournament, a bazaar sale and a bake sale in the company. We hope to be able to share what we have with the less fortunate and to contribute to the community.”
She added that the volunteers went “all out” to bring joy to the elderly and show them that they were cared for and loved.
CHCSA’s senior program manager, Irene Ho, explained the theme: “June is when many families holiday overseas, but many of the elderly do not have the luxury of doing so. Together with RBS, we decided to bring the countries closer to them by letting them experience the cultures and flavors of these places.”
Volunteers set up and manned booths that represented different countries, letting the participants to experience the traditions, activities and food from various countries such as Japan, Korea, India, Hawaii, Holland and Scotland.
There were many activities on offer that day: visitors to the Korean booth could play Yootnole, a traditional board game, while they learned how to dance the traditional dances of Scotland and Hawaii. The Dutch and Japanese booths collaborated to teach their visitors how to fold paper windmills. The elderly brought their work home to teach their grandchildren.
They also got to savor fresh-made sushi, Dutch stroopwafel biscuits, Scottish shortbread as well as traditional Korean snacks and ginseng tea.
The elderly were delighted with the photo booth, happily posing for pictures with the Scottish piper and the kimono-dressed Japanese lady.
There was an air of great excitement, with many of the participants bringing their family members on their “travels.” Tan How Khim, 60, a COPE member enthused, “It is very exciting to learn about the countries that I have never been to, such as Hawaii and India.”
The RBS volunteers were equally touched. Foreign exchange analyst Andy Tan, a first-time volunteer, said, “It is good to be able to do something worthwhile and spend time with the elderly, to make them happy instead of sleeping in on a Saturday.”
The morning’s journey came to an end at the sumptuous buffet lunch where participants were serenaded with “golden oldies” as they ate.
This was the first of many activities that will be held at the House Of JOY, which officially opens in end-August. The center hopes to bring exciting classes and activities to elderly residents in the Mountbatten area. Through it, COPE aims to engage and encourage every person who comes through the center to have a renewed mind and to lead a purposeful life.