Tragedy caused by a burst pipe in this eldercare center was mitigated by a donation from City Harvest Church.
By Dawn Seow
In the early hours of Sunday, Oct. 7, a persistent pounding at her door woke Hee Hoi Thong up from her sleep. A cleaner from the town council was at her door to break the bad news: the senior activity center that Hee worked at was flooded.
Hee is a café operator at House Of JOY, a senior activity center run by City Harvest Community Service Association for the residents of Mountbatten Estate. A pipe in the center had burst during the night, causing a severe leak that eventually flooded the whole center.
“The cleaner was sweeping the corridor outside the center when she saw water flowing out of our center’s main door,” recalled Irene Ho, HOJ’s center manager. “She knew that Hoi Thong stayed in the same block and went up to alert her.”
Hee contacted two other beneficiaries who came down to the center to help Ho and two other staff members. The group started stopping the leak and addressing the damage in the center at 6.30am.
“I am very grateful to the seniors who came downstairs to help,” said Ho. “Sundays are very precious to them because it’s the day their children visits them. But once they heard that the center was flooded, they rushed home from the market, dropped their groceries and came down to help.”
The water damaged 80 percent of the flooring in the center, including the laminated flooring in the multi-purpose hall, and carpeted flooring in the office.
The mini-catastrophe happened just after they received news that City Harvest Church would be donating S$14,000 to them. “The amount was very timely. Above covering the cost of the repair work, this money will help us cover the operation costs of the center.”
The amount donated is part of the offerings the church collects from its weekly prayer meeting on Friday evenings; the church is committed to donating part of the offerings toward a charitable cause each week.
THE JOY OF MOUNTBATTEN
HOJ is a not-for-profit elderly center set up to engage the elderly residents through their programs and activities. In the one year they have been in operation, they have managed to impact a total of 510 elderly persons in the Mountbatten Constituency.
Besides providing learning opportunities and activities, the center also encourages senior citizens to give back to society by contributing their skills and talents to benefit others. Hee and her friends were once beneficiaries of the center who now lead lives that are more meaningful; some have even become volunteers in the center.
One of the programs in the center also led to the opening of a small social enterprise, Hearts and Craft. The idea of opening shop came when the elderly women sewed a collection of gifts for their donors. Since then, they have been producing small corporate gifts, bags and other patchworks using recycled fabric.
“Many of the elderly ladies already know how to sew,” said Ho. “Our staff would give them the designs and materials and they work quite independently. When we started out, we thought of giving the proceeds of the sales back to the person who made the patchwork quilt, but most of them refuse to accept the money. They are just happy that someone else appreciates their handiwork.”
Ho continued, “We started selling the patchwork pieces because we wanted the elderly to feel that they are still useful and their work is valuable, thus improving their sense of self-worth. When the customers buy the bags, they know that it is a blessing to the elderly people here.”
While the government provides funding for a few programs run by the center, it largely depends on the donations from the public and some funding from CHCSA. HOJ is thus constantly looking for regular donors and conducting fundraising efforts.
“For example, we are looking for donor who can sponsor equipment for our mobile classroom–that includes a visualizer that costs between S$5,000 to S$10,000, and a few other portable items. With the visualizer, we can conduct lessons that require live demonstration. Currently, when we conduct a calligraphy lesson, the students have to crowd around the teacher while he demonstrates and the class size is limited because of the space constraint.”
If you are interested to donate to or volunteer at HOJ, email Darryl Loh at email@example.com.