CHCSA’s House Of JOY celebrated its first successful year with the elderly and the youth at a ’60s-themed carnival.
By Sandy Poon
When House Of JOY was started one year ago, its aim was to “join the old and the young”. Its success in doing so was evident during its anniversary event, during which young volunteers offered their services in exchange for the smiles on the elderly faces.
House Of JOY, an elderly center set up by City Harvest Community Service Association, celebrated their one year anniversary at the center at Mountbatten Constituency on Sep. 1. Wendy Fong, the event organizer said, “We managed to impact a total of 510 elderly in the Mountbatten Constituency after having a center in the estate for a year. Our befrienders make a weekly home visitation to a total of 467 elderly. The HOJ centre has also served a total of 225 elderly through our regular in-house program for the past one year.
“We want to focus on the mental and emotional well-being of the elderly, to help senior citizens age with dignity and enjoy their golden years. We also want to promote neighborliness and ‘kampong ties’ where the elder can help to look out for each other.”
Besides the beneficiaries and volunteers of HOJ, many residents in the Mountbatten neighborhood joined in the celebration as well. “We invited the families of the elderly to come. A family carnival like this allows the other residents to get to know us and our programs,” Fong added.
The theme of the event was “Retro 1960s”. From the Golden Oldies playing in the background and the ’60s attire of the staff members and volunteers, to the old-fashioned carnival games and food stalls, it was an afternoon’s stroll down the memory lane.
The celebration, however, was not just about food and games. As the Chinese saying goes “the older we grow, the more we learn.” Ten elderly persons participated in a mini English contest, where they showcased what they learned in the programs provided by HOJ. The contestants chose from five categories and each category consists of different pictures; the contestants’ task was to correctly identify the object in the pictures using English. They also had to translate a sentence from Mandarin into English. The contestants displayed great enthusiasm and confidence as they put their new skills to use.
The simple competition got many elderly interested in the various lessons offered by HOJ. “I am interested in the computer lessons,” said Lim Ah Choo, 60, a Mountbatten resident.
Besides educating the elderly with general knowledge, HOJ also wants to teach the elderly the importance of keeping themselves healthy. At the celebration event, four senior citizens and two youth volunteers facilitated the crowd as an instructor led them in doing “Maxercise”–an exercise that uses simple and quirky movements like “Grab Money”, “Wash Clothes” and “Dancing Tango” to encourage elderly folks to exercise. With the elderly and the youth demonstrating the moves, other attendees quickly got into the action and participated enthusiastically.
What would HOJ’s anniversary celebration be without a birthday cake and song?
A beat-boxer presented a unique birthday song as a cake and two longevity buns came into view. Lim Biow Chuan, advisor to the Mountbatten Grassroots organization joined the staff of HOJ in celebrating the first year anniversary of the eldercare center.
Each beneficiary left the event with a blessing of happiness from HOJ: a pair of chopsticks that symbolized the fact that they will always be fed, mentally, physically and emotionally, at the House Of JOY.