True to its name, House Of JOY’s first picnic outing was a joyous affair of delicious food and rib-tickling games.
By Yong Yung Shin
It was not a contest 70-year-old Teo Bee Geok expected to win. On a Saturday afternoon on Mar. 24, she was awarded “Most Long-winded” by virtue of her being able to hold her “Ahhhh … ” for the longest time—a good 45 seconds. The grandmother of six was one of 255 participants at Breezy Galore@Labrador Park, House Of JOY’s first ever picnic outing.
House Of JOY (an acronym for “Joining the Old and the Young”) is an initiative of the Community Outreach Program to the Elderly or COPE, an arm of City Harvest Community Services Association. It is a senior citizen center located at Old Airport Road which was set up in August last year. The participants of the picnic came from three estates—Pine Close, Toa Payoh and Old Airport Road, areas where COPE has been active in for the last few years.
With more than 200 participants, some of whom were less able-bodied than others, many details both big and small went into the organizing of the event. For one, the picnic location had to offer shelter from the sun, and also feature washroom facilities close by. Even the handle of the drinks dispenser was not the usual lever, but a convenient rubber knob that is easily maneuvered.
The agenda kicked off with a treasure hunt for Post-its, followed by a game of “Who Has The Longest …” Representatives from each team competed to see who had the longest tongue, toe and breath. The game elicited bursts of laughter from everyone else watching the contestants in their comical stances. Several lucky draws were held as well—winners walked away with food, home appliances and other useful items.
With their picnic mats laid out in a grassy, shady spot, the elderly feasted on a sumptuous buffet spread after the games, no doubt drawing longing glances from passers-by. A session of photo-taking rounded off the afternoon with smiles and laughter. Organizer Jonathan Goh teased: “Smile as wide as you can, just be careful your dentures don’t fall off!”
Birthed out of a vision to see senior citizens being well-connected with their loved ones and having the means to live life to the fullest, House Of JOY contains a multi-purpose hall and activity room, a café operated by senior citizens, meeting and counseling rooms, a multimedia and recreational room, a KTV room and IT facilities. In-house exercise programs, learning workshops and social work services are provided by CHCSA workers.