Reaching hundreds of beneficiaries from different organizations, CityCare’s Servathon 2014 built on its previous successes in its drive to promote volunteerism.
The downpour was merciless but it did not dampen the high spirits of this group of people. Servathon volunteers and beneficiaries gathered as planned on Dec 6 at 10am for the Fam-tastic Challenge. This was one of the events in CityCare’s annual marathon to do good—one that matched volunteers from Safra Radio with low-income families.
Despite the wet weather, the 18 families—beneficiaries of @27 FSC and Serangoon Moral Family Service Center—participating in the challenge were visibly excited. They were to team up with 30 volunteers, half of whom were employees from Safra Radio’s two stations 88.3JIA FM and POWER 98FM, to compete in a race involving six different games on Siloso Beach, Sentosa. Using games designed with values-based objectives to encourage teamwork, the Fam-tastic Challenge aimed to foster family bonding for single-parent low-income households in Singapore. The games were also designed to help single parents relieve stress and encourage their children to deal with the challenges at home.
Among the games was “Sticky Clean” taught teamwork as two blindfolded team members followed verbal instructions given to them to eat a chocolate sundae. The rest of the team watched on, collapsing into a heap of laughter and anticipation, as the blindfolded participants inadvertently smeared ice cream all over their face and shirts.
Throughout the games, the volunteers served as encouraging facilitators. Michael Tan, 31, a deejay from Power98 FM, noted, “The activities are geared towards family bonding and teamwork and cooperation. These are essential values that every family needs. In my day-to-day life, I don’t get a chance to cross paths with special families but I got to do that today. To me, this is a meaningful experience.”
Tan also encouraged others to be more involved in voluntary work, “Each one of us has a duty as a human being, to put our ordinary life aside, and realize our purpose here is to give back. You are here not just to serve your own needs but the needs of other people as well. Once you’ve been a part of it, it motivates and inspires you to continue doing it.”
“From start to finish, you can see the changes you’ve made in people’s lives,” said student volunteer Michael Ong, 25. “Seeing the beneficiaries’ smiles is very satisfying. Servathon has helped me to see the bigger picture of we can help Singapore society!”
After games, the families went Skyline Luge rides before enjoying a lunch buffet. The beneficiaries had a great time bonding with their family members, as well as with the other families and the volunteers. N Kumaresan, the Deputy General Manager of Safra Radio gave out the prizes to the winning teams to mark the end a great day out.
SERVATHON 2014: A RACE FOR CHANGE
Fam-tastic Challenge was just one in a series of races and events that make up Servathon, a 21-hour charity marathon, now into its third year. Servathon champions a purposeful change in both the beneficiaries and the volunteers.
Organized by CityCare, a social enterprise dedicated to promoting volunteerism in Singapore, Servathon targets volunteers of all age groups and simultaneously creates awareness of various needs in society. The event, which took three months to plan, was anchored by the Caretalyst Clubs of the four local universities, namely Singapore Institute of Management, National University of Singapore, Singapore Management University, and Nanyang Technological University.
The first of the five races started on Dec 5: 160 volunteers embarked on an overnight cycling mission dubbed “Love Invasion Race”. At 10pm, the troop set off on their bicycles from East Coast Park, “invading” the city with hopes to make a difference in the neighborhoods by delivering gifts to 10,000 households.
As the day broke, another group of people gathered at the Singapore Sports Hub for Sports-on-Wheels. Able-bodied volunteers came together with beneficiaries from Handicaps Welfare Association, Singapore Disability Sports Council, and the Wheelchair Basketball Association to play sports in specialized wheelchairs.
However, they were met with a stormy downpour. But the project leaders simply set plan B into motion with a hands-on tutorial for the volunteers by a physically-challenged coach who taught them how to maneuver their wheelchairs.
The volunteers gradually adjusted to the movements of a wheelchair and started to experience first-hand the mobility of the physically challenged; it is more than possible to keep an active lifestyle despite one’s disability.
Volunteer Chung Soo Ji, 15, a Korean student from International Singapore School, said, “Sports-on-Wheels was so fun. I got to care for the physically-challenged, learn how it is like to move around on a wheelchair, and play games with them. I’m really glad I came.”
Happening concurrently was the Fam-tastic Race at Sentosa and Insta-Race. Deejay Ben Lee was still going strong at Sentosa’s Fam-tastic despite being “dead tired” from his participation in the all-night Love Invasion just hours before.
Volunteers from Insta-Race brought intellectually-challenged beneficiaries on an adventurous photo trail around Singapore, capturing all sorts of sights and posting them on Instagram. Their aim was to win the most number of Likes on each Insta-worthy post they put up. The most valuable lesson in this race for the volunteers was befriending the beneficiaries and teaching them to use the public transport system.
“Through this experience, I learned about the daily life of an intellectually-challenged person and most importantly, God’s overflowing love and mercy for them,” said NUS student Ken Gideon Lee, 25. “I felt I learned more from them than I could teach them: life is simple and easy when you are joyful and thankful for the little things in life!”
The final race of Servathon was The Silent Race. Volunteers teamed up with the hearing-impaired members of the Deaf Dragons—one of two dragon boat teams in Singapore with hearing-impaired members.
Dragon boaters rely heavily on drumbeat and vocal commands for coordination—it thus seemed like a counter-intuitive choice of sport for the hearing-impaired. The Silent Race showed Servathon volunteers how the Deaf Dragons surmount this obstacle with hand gestures and sign language. It is no mean feat for this team which competes at events.
Seasoned dragon boaters patiently showed the volunteers the ropes when they struggled to get into rhythm, their paddles flailing about helplessly. The race began soon after the participants gained some semblance of momentum. It was a challenge to coordinate as a team with hand gestures instead of the usual auditory cues.
In closing Servathon 2014, volunteers gathered at New Charis Mission for an appreciation dinner. The spirit of the volunteers reflected Servathon tagline this year: “Race for Change”. Volunteer Eric Lim, 24, a learning and development consultant, said, “It’s humbling to see so many volunteers who are willing to take time out to participate and serve the different groups of people. Servathon has shown us that we don’t need to have much to bless others.”