CityCare’s inaugural Servathon saw 400 volunteers bringing hope, joy, and love to 440 beneficiaries in a 21-hour community service marathon.
By Venessa Thor
On a rainy Monday night, over 400 individuals gathered at The King Louis Grill and Bar at VivoCity the shopping mall, looking tired but satisfied. These were the heroes who made it happen: Servathon 2012, the first community service marathon organized by CityCare Limited.
These volunteers were celebrating the end of the 21-hour non-stop community service marathon at an appreciation dinner. The dinner was themed “Insignia,” reflecting the indelible mark that each volunteer had left in the hearts and lives of their beneficiaries.
CityCare was formed in 2007 as a not-for-profit organization with a mission to inspire people to serve the community through active volunteerism. Their core vision is to “build a city that cares.” In line with this vision, the Servathon, which took half a year to plan, aimed to promote volunteerism across all age groups, to empower youth and adults to develop leadership skills through the planning and execution of different community service projects. A secondary goal was to raise awareness of the various needs in society.
The idea of a community service marathon arose when the staff of CityCare brainstormed for new ways to do community projects that would spell fun for their volunteers. Alexis Fan, who manages the volunteers, suggested a service marathon, a fitting idea for marathon-mad Singaporeans.
“There have been other community service marathons, but they are usually not continuous; so we thought it would be a good idea to actually carry out a non-stop, overnight community service marathon,” explained CityCare’s executive director, Tammy Lim.
A project of this scale is bound to present some challenges. Finding project leaders was one, but “thankfully, there were many volunteers who took up the challenge to plan the projects, even though some of the events were new to them,” said Lim. “They were all willing to learn and go the extra mile to make it happen.”
Then there was the challenge of finding beneficiaries. “As we were doing a continuous marathon, there was a time slot for each operation,” said Lim. “It was nothing short of a miracle that we managed to find organizations to work with us at each of the
Servathon bore the tagline “For A Home With Hope And Heart.” It was launched at East Coast Park on Dec. 9 with Operation Extra Mile, a night cycling event to raise funds for children in Cambodia.
Among the hundred people gathered was guest-of-honor Tin Pei Ling, Member of Parliament for Marine Parade GRC. “Innately, all of us want to contribute to something larger than ourselves,” she said in her opening speech. “To be in a position to give means that we have the abundance to share with someone else who may not otherwise be able to enjoy. I think this is a very noble journey you are embarking on; my fullest respect to all of you.”
From 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. the next day, nearly 100 cyclists traveled across the island for a good cause: in support, corporate partners sponsored 100 bicycles for children in Cambodia. With access to bicycles, the children would be able to travel to school easily.
“Cycling was a refreshing way of imparting information on how our participation helps the mission,” said volunteer Ahlinda Bte Ahsan, 40, a marketing support specialist. “I had a wonderful time and the leave I took from work feels well-spent.”
7 A.M., Operation Tai Chi Moves: The Servathon continued with morning exercises at the beach with a group of senior citizens. Thirty volunteers performed tai chi with the seniors and after that, enjoyed breakfast with them. Operation Tai Chi Moves aimed to promote healthy living among the elderly by helping them to reduce stress levels through the gentle and flowing movements of tai chi.
9 a.m., Operation Showtime: Fifty volunteers assembled at Thye Hua Kwan Moral Society Moral Welfare Home to put on a show for 100 persons with multiple disabilities. Volunteers brought smiles to the faces of the disabled by playing games and making music with them. The beneficiaries also enjoyed a string of performances, including a violin recital, a song performance and a magic show. The event ended on a high note as the volunteers gathered on stage to sing Christmas carols, much to the delight of the residents.
NOON, Operation Dare-devil: Given the aim of promoting active living among special needs children, a sports carnival was organized for 30 special needs children from Metta Pre-school. With the element of fun as their motivation, the children went beyond their usual physical limits in games such as bowling and fishing. This was achieved through tireless encouragement and help from 50 volunteers.
3 p.m., Operation Beam and Operation Artistic: Sixty underprivileged children from lower-income families took part in an educational “Amazing Race” tour around Gardens By The Bay. Accompanying the children were 60 volunteers, who gave the children a lesson on the different kinds of plants in the Gardens. The children also got to create drawings of the Gardens. Happening concurrently at the former Turf City was Operation Artistic where 30 children from the THK Moral Student Centre learned how to paint on canvas with the help of 30 volunteers and an art teacher.
10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Operation R: R stands for Revitalize: this six-hour task saw 60 volunteers cleaning and painting six homes that belonged to elderly folk. The homes received a fresh coat of paint and the volunteers received smiles of gratitude from the owners.
6 p.m., Operation Melody: A sing-along session with 50 senior citizens at the Henderson Senior Citizen Activity Centre marked the end of Servathon 2012. Thirty volunteers engaged the seniors in singing session of old songs. Jonathan Lim, 18, a project leader for Operation Melody, said, “It was a wonderful experience to bring hope, joy and laughter to the elderly.”
It was an exhausting but deeply rewarding first effort for all the organizers and volunteers of Servathon—and such a success that Servathon 2013 has already been confirmed.
Raymond Lum, 24, who was a project leader for Operations Extra Mile and Tai Chi Moves, said, “In my opinion, the most meaningful part of Servathon was that it created an awareness of such needs that can be easily met. It acted as a magnifying glass for us to see clearly amidst our hectic yet comfortable Singaporean life.”