City News looks at two organizations that work closely with City Harvest Church to aid the local community and beyond.
Contributed By Dawn Seow
Fifteen years after receiving the revelation of “Loving God wholeheartedly and Loving People Fervently,” City Harvest Church has stayed true to its commitment to love those outside the four walls of the church, collaborating with City Harvest Community Service Association on local community projects, as well as CityCare Ltd, a non-profit organization doing humanitarian works.
REACHING THE LOCAL COMMUNITY
CHC’s Church Without Walls program was born out of the belief that besides helping the church’s members grow spiritually, there is the need to go beyond the four walls to meet the practical needs of the community. So began the collaboration with CHCSA in March 1996 to put that belief into action.
With nine different arms, CHCSA reaches out to the children, elderly, youth at risk, families, inmates, people with special needs, hearing-impaired, terminally ill, and patients with Multiple Sclerosis.
COPE (Community Outreach to the Elderly) reaches out to the elderly by providing care and practical support. It also aims to encourage senior citizens to live actively and find meaning in life.
Mdm. Hee Hoi Thong is one of the beneficiaries of COPE. Her entire life had revolved around her late elder sister’s family, taking care of her two sons since they were babies. This family became her own.
Her life took a turn when the younger son met with a fatal accident when he was 23 years old. Unable to handle the tragedy, Hee spiraled into depression.
Two CHCSA volunteers knocked on her door every week in 2006, but in her state of depression, she never let them in. Finally in 2008, the volunteer’s persistence paid off. She invited them in and poured out her troubles to them. The volunteers roped her into COPE’s “Happy Cards” program and since then involved her in other community programs and excursions. Over time, Hee gradually overcame depression.
In 2010, she signed up to be a volunteer at COPE’s elderly leadership camp, and has since been visiting other elderly folk on Saturdays and helping in various events. Hee, out of her own initiative, encourages neighbors and other lonely elderly to join COPE’s programs. She recently joined the House Of JOY, CHCSA’s eldercare center, as a café barista and elder mentor.
REACHING CHILDREN, RESTORING FAMILIES
CHCSA’s K.I.T.E (Kids in Total Embrace) service reaches out to needy children by guiding, motivating and inspiring them to soar to higher heights, while its STAR family services supports families in need by restoring and strengthening them. With the two arms working together, CHCSA brings love to families in need.
Lynette (not her real name) is a single mother of two sons. In 2008, she discovered that her husband was having an extramarital affair. He left the family soon after wiping out the household savings. Out of the stress and strain, Lynette suffered an emotional breakdown and became suicidal. She was referred to STAR family services in 2009.
Through the practical support and weekly visitations from KITE and STAR volunteers, Lynette found strength to walk out of her depression and start rebuilding her life again. She enrolled herself into courses to improve her parenting skills so she could better manage her family. She also took up computer courses in order to find work to provide for her family.
“I am very touched by the efforts of the volunteers to organize family activities and outings. It is always something my sons and I to look forward to,” shared Lynette.
REACHING YOUTH AT RISK
Yeo Xueni, 20, lost her mother when she was 6 and was sent to live with a relative who constantly abused her. She first came into contact with CHCSA when she attempted suicide and was admitted to the Institute of Mental Health for depression at the age of 14.
Touched by the love shown to her by CHCSA’s volunteers who befriended her at IMH, Yeo joined a camp organized by CHCSA after her discharge. That camp was the turning point of her life. In the next 12 months, Yeo’s studies improved tremendously with the encouragement and support of her new found friends. She was even nominated for various leadership positions in school. Yeo went on to score four distinctions for her O-levels and was featured in the Chinese newspaper, Lianhe Wanbao for her transformation in character and academic achievements.
Yeo, who will be sitting for her A-level examinations in a couple of weeks, said, “I would have not been able to achieve all these if not for the support and encouragement of the staff and volunteers at CHCSA. Today I am proud that I can ‘pay it forward’ as a CHCSA volunteer by helping other youths to turn their lives around.”
Other Arms Of CHCSA
POD (People of Destiny)
CHCSA’s POD (People of Destiny) Center seeks to provide holistic care and development opportunities through befriending services, recreational activities, counseling programs, camps and workshops for youth at risk and out-of-school teenagers.
One of the weekly programs conducted by POD is Playmax. Held every Thursday afternoon, Playmax provides a platform for volunteers to build relationship with their young clients through fun activities and games. POD also hopes to step into a mentoring relationship, where the volunteers can inspire the youth to take up volunteering and become people of character.
With the aim to bring rays of light to the world of people with special needs, this service hopes to raise the living standard of their clients through various programs, activities and experiences that help build up their confidence and social skills.
Let the hands do the talking when it comes to communicating with the hearing-impaired. With a passion to help the hearing-impaired be integrated into mainstream society, volunteers take the initiative to step into their world by being trained to communicate in sign language.
The touch of a hand brings warmth to the heart—this service aims to be a friend to terminally-ill patients. The main goal of the volunteers is to avail their presence, lend a listening ear and provide emotional support to walk them through their final days.
This service is dedicated to supporting people with Multiple Sclerosis—a disease that affects the central nervous system—by providing practical care, moral support and counseling services.
M3 (Mighty Men in the Making)
This rehabilitation service aims to help inmates at the Reformative Training Centre and Changi Prison Complex regain their self-esteem and rediscover their aspirations through character building and personal growth workshops.
Beyond Our Shores
Besides serving the local community, City Harvest Church’s Church Without Walls also extends beyond the shores of Singapore by collaborating with humanitarian organization, CityCare Ltd.
CityCare was formed in 2007 as a not-for-profit organization to encourage more people to serve the community through active volunteerism. Their core vision is to “build a city that cares.”
In 2008, CHC starting working with CityCare to manage their overseas efforts in China. More than just feeding the poor, both organizations agreed that it was vital to help the poor get out of their poverty. The way to do this was through education. Thus, initial projects focused heavily on building schools for children who otherwise might not have access to education in China.
Through CityCare, CHC has been involved in reconstruction projects of five schools to date. More than meeting the need for education in the villages, the school buildings have also given the children a more conducive environment for learning. To improve the learning condition of students, two school dormitories were constructed in Inner Mongolia and Yunnan to eliminate the need for students to walk for hours before reaching the school premises for lessons.
Besides the building projects, CHC was also involved in seven refurbishment projects involving facilities enhancements, makeovers, renovations to existing school buildings and welfare centers that are run-down with inadequate facilities. Three of these projects were done in Henan, two in Heilongjiang and one in both Beijing and Liaoning respectively.
After completion of each project, CityCare continues to make follow-up visits to the schools, bringing school uniforms and stationery to the students. Study awards as well as groceries are also given to the needy families of the students. Concerned about the well-being of the children, CityCare was also involved in a water and sanitation project in Henan to provide safe, portable water to the children and their families all year round.
CHC’s co-founder Sun Ho, who also spearheads most of the humanitarian projects, has a strong love for music. This led to the setting up of a music therapy lab and a music resource room in Harbin, Heilongjiang, music learning rooms in Anshan and Liaoning, as well as sponsorship of music groups in Tianjin.
Another aspect of CityCare’s overseas humanitarian work is disaster relief work. To raise funds for victims of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, CityCare held a charity art exhibition of 100 art pieces from both China artists as well as the earthquake victims. The fund-raiser took place at the Luxe Art Museum, Singapore in August 2008. Through public funds raised from auctioning the art pieces and donations from members of CHC, CityCare managed to raise S$375,000 to help in the construction of a primary school and educational sponsorships for 50 tertiary students. Some cell groups in CHC also took the initiative to sponsor children who lost one or both parents to the earthquake. The amount donated to the single-parent children came up to S$140,000.
During the Haiti earthquake in 2010, CityCare saw the need for post-disaster medical relief and sent out a total of six medical relief teams comprising doctors and medical professionals who brought with them medical supplies, water filtration pumps and tents for those affected by the earthquake.
These relief teams were made up of volunteers who applied for leave from their jobs to travel to quake-stricken Haiti. More than medical help, the volunteers brought the message of faith, hope and love to the survivors, exemplifying CHC’s mantra of “loving people wholeheartedly.” Both church members and the public raised a total of S$24,680 for the building of a clinic for children in Haiti.
CityCare hopes to expand CHC’s humanitarian works to other parts of Asia, particularly the South East Asian region. They are currently exploring ways to work with some of the non-government organizations and even the local government to help the under-privileged in the country like Cambodia, Vietnam and Indonesia.
CityCare also has plans to tap on the existing funds available, such as the Youth Expedition Projects to spearhead even more humanitarian trips for the schools and tertiary institutes.