University students are coming together in Caretalyst Clubs to create waves of change in the community.
Workers in the service industry, such as fast food restaurant servers, cleaners and sales assistants, take on a lot of hard work, but rarely receive thanks and appreciation. Twelve students from the Singapore Institute of Management decided to change that on Jul 24 this year.
These students from SIM Caretalyst Club gave out messages of appreciation, together with a snack or beverage to 300 service staff. These messages were handwritten by members of the public.
SIM Caretalyst Club president, Melanie Foo, 24, said: “The responses were heart-warming. Initially, the service providers were caught by surprise as they thought we were selling them something. When they realised what we were giving them was something to appreciate them, they were touched. We really wanted was to show and tell them that we do appreciate them, and that they deserve a little encouragement.”
This event, called “You Matter”, was a collaboration between SIM Caretalyst Club and the Tampines Town Council, supported by the Singapore Kindness Movement. The effort drew the attention of Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao.
SIM’s is one of four Caretalyst Clubs, an extension of CityCare Ltd, a not-for-profit organization that promotes volunteerism in Singapore. The four clubs are run by university volunteers at the National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore Management University and Singapore Institute of Management. Each club trains student leaders in these four institutions and provides volunteering opportunities for students to help the community.
Doing community work is not mandatory for tertiary students (unlike secondary school students who have to clock community involvement programme hours), yet these university students choose to devote hours of their precious time to serving those around them.
Want to be a Caretalyst? Visit www.citycare.org.sg/caretalyst-clubs-in-schools/
NUS Caretalyst Club was birthed in 2009, when nine students came together with a simple desire to touch lives. Since then, NUS Caretalyst Club has become an official club recognized by the NUS Office of Student Affairs. It aims to reach out to students who are busy with studies, but who still want to volunteer and lead community service projects. Standing out from other volunteer CCA groups in NUS, students are encouraged to initiate their own projects and execute them.
“University is a place where young people want to try new things; we want to channel this drive and energy into volunteerism,” said club president Germaine Low, 23.
The most recent event they organized was “Project Open Sesame”, where volunteers performed and taught magic tricks to terminally-ill children at Arc Children’s Centre.
Currently, all the Caretalyst clubs are working on Servathon, City Care’s annual community service marathon. Each club will be spearheading a three-hour long event. Eventually, NUS Caretalyst Club hopes to make its annual carnival for the intellectually-disabled, “LOL@Mindsville”, part of Servathon.
NTU Caretalyst Club began in 2011 with seven volunteers. Since then, it has grown from being virtually unknown to a volunteer pool of 100 NTU students, and a nine-member committee.
Most recently in June, NTU Caretalyst Club organized its largest event to date, called “NOLO (Not Only Live Once)”, aimed at leaving a lasting impact on the elderly residing in one-room public house estates in Kembangan and Chai Chee. In that one-day event, over 100 volunteers cleaned up nine homes and organized a carnival for 100 elderly.
NTU Caretalyst Club hopes to become registered as an official NTU club soon. Volunteers have been participating out of a desire to serve the community with no benefit to their own resume, but not being official makes it more difficult for them to collaborate with other organizations.
The youngest of the bunch, SIM Caretalyst began only two years ago. As SIM consists of different universities and timetables tend to clash, it was hard for the volunteers to meet. However, with the help of members and CityCare mentors, SIM Caretalyst Club today has eight regular members.
Despite its modest size, SIM Caretalyst Club has organized events such as “The Golden Years”, during which the members visited the elderly at Saint Andrew’s Cathedral Home for the Aged.
SMU Caretalyst Club is the big brother of the Caretalyst clubs, established in 2008. Its biggest annual event is the YOLO Orientation Camp, which started three years ago and is now one of the most popular camps in SMU.
Another of its flagship events is “Flight of Dreams”: underprivileged children write their hopes and wishes on kites and fly them in an act of declaration that dreams and aspirations can come true.
SMU Caretalyst Club recently organized “Project Lighted Hearts” which involved the elderly from Ren Ci Hospital and children from Beyond Social Services and Thye Hua Kwan Moral Society.
“We hope to spread to our freshmen the kindness and joy gained from serving the community, and we hope to recruit like-minded people into SMU Caretalyst Club, to continue our legacy,” said Jourdan Poon, 24, president of the club.