Set up eight years ago to encourage Singaporeans to volunteer and give back to society, CityCare has turned doing good into an attraction for corporations and volunteers.
In June 2013, CityCare distributed 100 bicycles sponsored by Blackstone Singapore and some 176 school bags and stationery sets sponsored by Courts Singapore to Say Samorn Primary School in Cambodia. Since 2012, a total of 35 volunteers have reached more than 1,276 children through CityCare’s Cambodia humanitarian projects. Some of the projects include the painting and refurbishment of classrooms to provide a better study environment for the students, distribution of bags and stationeries and oral hygiene.
Fuelled by the vision to see a culture of doing good in Singapore, Tan Ye Peng founded CityCare with a group of young professionals in 2007. The not-for-profit organization aims to promote active citizenry by providing volunteering opportunities for organizations and individuals to demonstrate social responsibility towards the good of the community. For his efforts, Tan was named an Outstanding Young Global Leader at the World Economic Forum in 2010.
CityCare educates, encourages and empowers volunteers to bring transformation to society across different countries and demographics. The humanitarian trip to Cambodia was just one of the projects organized by CityCare to provide volunteering opportunities.
Executive director of CityCare, Tammy Lim, explains: “CityCare wants to be a light in the world by promoting a culture of doing good. Our mission is to empower volunteers to bring about social change in the society. The opportunity to bring civic education into schools has been a very rewarding journey as we have witnessed young people growing in their passion to make a difference in their world. Our collaboration with various corporations in their community investment projects has also grown into stronger strategic partnerships.”
CityCare’s overseas humanitarian efforts began in 2007 with a series of educational and humanitarian projects in the under-served communities in China, Indonesia, Cambodia, Thailand and the Philippines. Through volunteer effort and funding, CityCare has aided in the construction and refurbishment of seven primary schools and conducted medical relief trips to Haiti and the Philippines. Some of these efforts are in partnership with City Harvest Church.
In May 2013, CityCare entered into a partnership with Points of Light Network, an international non-profit, non-partisan organization founded in 1989 by President George Bush, to open more doors for partnerships with corporates to invest in community investment projects. In line with CityCare’s vision, Points of Light Network is dedicated to engaging more people and resources in solving serious social problems through voluntary service. The organization mobilizes millions of people through affiliates in approximately 250 cities and collaborations with thousands of non-profits and companies.
CityCare is one of the two action centers in Singapore, managing and executing volunteer and community service projects for HandsOn Asia. Through the POL Network, CityCare has worked with organizations such as Hilton Group Worldwide, VISA and Moody’s Analytics.
Locally, CityCare recently worked with the Ministry of Education to train 166 foreign pre-university scholars at the National University of Singapore and National Technological University on Service Learning and Community Project Management, to instill compassion for the Singapore community, and to inspire them to make a difference. These students were mentored by 22 CityCare facilitators to carry out 22 community projects over three months from April to June 2014.
To drum up volunteerism in Singapore, CityCare holds an annual event called Servathon, a one-of-its-kind 21-hour community service marathon. From eight small projects in 2012, Servathon grew in 2013 to engage five Community Development Councils through four simultaneous projects. Through Servathon, altogether 1,025 volunteers have been engaged and empowered to make a difference in the community, touching 6,041 local beneficiaries in a total of 42 hours. Beneficiary groups include the elderly, children and persons with disabilities.
Providing volunteering opportunities is only one spectrum of CityCare’s function. Promoting volunteerism and philanthropy among individuals and corporations is the other. To inculcate in youth the value of doing good works, CityCare offers community service programs to schools, enhancing students’ learning experience in their compulsory Values In Action projects. The organization designed a series of experiential learning programs that cover topics such as social responsibility, leadership and social entrepreneurship. Since 2007, CityCare has worked with more than 120 schools providing training programs to 17,400 students.
CityCare volunteers are called Caretalysts: they are meant to become a catalyst of change, building inclusive and caring communities. In 2009, CityCare extended its reach to the local universities—namely the National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore Management University and Singapore Institute of Management—through volunteer clubs, known as Caretalyst Clubs. Including the Caretalyst Clubs, CityCare has empowered a total of 4,502 Caretalysts, who have helped 16,705 beneficiaries locally, working with 145 voluntary welfare organizations.
On May 24 this year, CityCare organized its inaugural Leaders’ Summit for Caretalyst leaders and the executive committee of the four university Caretalyst Clubs. These leaders oversee volunteers who have collectively planned and executed over 40 local and overseas humanitarian projects over a span of five years. The summit was aimed at expanding the capacity of these leaders.
To the corporate sector, CityCare offers a new dimension to Corporate Social Responsibility. CityCare acts as a consultant to corporations, ensuring their community investment projects support their CSR objectives. To date, CityCare has worked with 86 corporate organizations on their CSR projects, including Crocs, Fossil, Credit Suisse and Barclays bank.
Lim says, “I want to see CityCare grow and be established as a premier volunteer organization, to be recognized as the organization that corporations and schools want to work with. CityCare also plans to organize an annual signature conference to provide a platform for civic-minded organizations and volunteers to come together to spur one another towards greater change in society.”
This story first appeared in City News Weekly’s July 26-27 issue commemorating City Harvest Church’s 25th anniversary.