Three volunteers share how their community involvement has given them a new meaning to life.
Contributed By Dawn Seow
I have been a volunteer with RAYZ, CHCSA’s service for people with special needs, since 2004. I started volunteering when my cell group leader in City Harvest Church challenged me to be more involved in reaching out to the less fortunate.
I used to be very individualistic and did not care much about others, leaving me with very few friends. Since becoming a volunteer with RAYZ, I learned to build relationships with RAYZ’s clients, their families and other volunteers. That experience redefined my life. I found that when I sowed love and friendship, I reaped in return.
One of the most memorable moments I’ve had as a volunteer was to see how God’s love touched one of my charges, Heng Wee.
Heng Wee has mental retardation and was barely able to communicate; all he could manage was a few words. But what troubled me the most was that he always had his head hanging down, looking sad and gloomy. He was always sitting alone. I made it a point to befriend him and reach out to him every week. Over time, a friendship was forged and he began to open up to me and the other volunteers. Today, Heng Wee is much happier and he smiles more these days.
My role in RAYZ includes home visitations, helping out in transportation and also teaching enrichment programs. I personally find doing home visitations the most fulfilling as it allows me to connect with people with special needs as well as with their parents and family. There are occasions when the parents of my charges confide in me on their personal, family and even career matters. I find it a privilege and an honor to be able to reach out to them.
My church’s teachings of loving God and loving people have inspired me to volunteer even more.
Before joining FIRST Hand, I was a quiet and reserved person and found it hard to initiate conversations with people I was not familiar with. Being a volunteer with FIRST Hand, I had to step out of my comfort zone and learn how to befriend the patients and build rapport with them. Volunteering changed my life completely. Today, I am more at ease when meeting new people and engaging them.
I also got to know my wife, Yew Xiao Xuan, through FIRST Hand. More than just bringing us together, volunteering has given us a chance to work as a team, develop greater trust and dependency on one another; and also experience a lot of fun and memorial moments.
One year ago, we were blessed with a baby girl. With the arrival of a new baby, there were many challenges and adjustments to make, volunteering became harder and inconvenient. There were moments where we found it hard to commit and serve as we did before and the idea of quitting was very tempting. But at that moment, we were reminded of the blessings we had received through serving and how that experience had not only changed our lives but also the lives of the patients we served. We found that we did not want to stop serving and miss out on the opportunity to touch another life; that gave us the determination to carry on. Through our Christian faith and church’s teaching on servanthood, we have come to realize that volunteering is not always convenient and demands sacrifices at times. But it reaps rewards that can never be measured.
A Christian scripture that we hold dearly in our hearts is in Matthew 25, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”
With the support of our parents-in-laws and friends in ministry, both my wife and I are still fully involved in volunteering work today. When we serve and volunteer together as a family, there was great love, joy and warmth. These have kept our relationship strong and close.