One year into its existence, CHCSA’s House Of JOY has created a culture among the elderly of being blessed to be a blessing.
By Yeo Zhiqi
It is 10 minutes past noon on a sunny Saturday afternoon and 67-year-old Yew Yock Ching is grabbing a quick bite after spending the morning volunteering at House Of JOY, a center for the elderly set up by City Harvest Community Services Association.
The housewife spends most of her time at the center where she can be found taking lessons in computer literacy, or playing games with other elderly folk.
Yew also helps to raise funds for social causes through the sale of cloth bags that she sews.
You would think that Yew has been active all her life, but that’s not the case. The shy housewife used to spend the bulk of her time watching television programmes at home and barely spoke to anyone. She gradually opened up only after a period of time when volunteers from CHCSA visited her weekly.
Through regular interaction with these volunteers, Yew built up her confidence and gained the assurance that she never once had. Soon, she felt a passion to touch the lives of others the way hers had been touched, so this former beneficiary decided to volunteer at HOJ, where she helps to facilitate activities and counsel other elderly persons.
Located at Pine Close, HOJ provides social work services to the older population, including counseling, in-house exercise programs, workshops and activities.
In May this year, five volunteers from the center reached out to an elderly couple in their 80s. They gave the couple’s flat a complete makeover, scrubbing the walls and floors, painting the unit and bringing in new furniture.
Volunteers of HOJ came across the couple Siao Siew San, 86, and Ng Siew Luan, 81, during their weekly visitations to elderly households. They discovered the couple living alone in poor conditions; they had lost touch with their children and relatives. The volunteers began visiting them and bringing them groceries.
It hasn’t been easy for Siao to care for his wheelchair-bound wife by himself, being unable to depend on any of his four children. He eagerly anticipates the weekly visits from HOJ volunteers. He says, “I’m very happy whenever the volunteers visit us. I feel like they’re my own grandchildren and I can talk to them about anything. I am just glad to see them.”
His wife added, “Many of our family members are no longer around, and we don’t really go out, so nobody talks to us. Though these volunteers are not related to us, they visit us every week without fail and also bring food for us. We’re very grateful.”
Indeed, that is the vision of HOJ: to promote active ageing and to bring joy to the lives of the elderly. The center, which is staffed by four individuals and run by over 60 volunteers, will celebrate its first year anniversary come September.
Irene Ho, HOJ’s center manager says, “Through the activities we organize and the efforts of the volunteers, we hope to renew the thinking of the elderly and provide them with the means to live life to the fullest.”
With its ability to turn beneficiaries into volunteers, HOJ is definitely living its vision to transform the lives of the elderly.