After two years, CHCSA held its first volunteer appreciation event at Sentosa in May, bringing together staff members and volunteers for a time of fun in the sun.
It used to be a yearly affair: City Harvest Community Services Association would gather all their volunteers for a day or two of appreciation. For a small organization like CHCSA, the role of volunteers is a key one: they are the arms and legs of the organisation, going to knock on doors of the elderly and befriending them, taking the clients on outings, packing meals and delivering goodies on special days.
“Sometime in the early part of the year, we would bring them for a meal, like steamboat at GoroGoro, and then in November we would hold a big appreciation event to showcase all the things they had done throughout the year,” explains Tammy Lim, volunteer manager at CHCSA.
But when COVID hit, the annual volunteer appreciation gatherings came to a halt. For two years, volunteers served where they were needed but there were no events to appreciate them.
“So this year, in February, when our board member Jasper Tong suggested we start planning something to gather the volunteers, we began to plan for a Fun Day at Sentosa, which happened on 14 May,” added Tammy.
CHCSA invited all the COPE volunteers who had served throughout the last two years. COPE, or Community Outreach To the Elderly is a nationwide programme involving various community service providers that befriends elderly persons living in HDB flats. CHCSA’s COPE volunteers reach out to such persons living in 21 blocks in Mountbatten and 10 blocks in Tampines North.
“During COVID when we could only do restricted visits to the elderly, these volunteers helped conduct these visits and also call the elderly to connect with them and check on them,” explains Tammy.
With the lifting of most safe management measures across Singapore starting 26 April this year, this volunteer appreciation event became the first large gathering for the staff and volunteers in a long time.
FUN IN THE SUN
In true CHCSA fashion, the staff organised a full day of fun at Sentosa for the volunteers. A total of 53 people were in attendance, including five children, and attendees included volunteers, staff members and some board members.
The games began right from the moment the group gathered at the Harbourfront cable car station at the start of the day. They were divided into seven teams: six volunteer teams and one team made up of staff members as the day also served as a team bonding outing for the staff.
As their cable car journey commenced towards Sentosa, the teams played ice breaker games to get to know each other. Each team was given a bag of goodies such as Snicker bars, and each person was free to take as many as he or she wanted, but little did they suspect there was a price to pay: for every snack they had in hand, they had to answer a question.
Once they arrived at Fort Siloso Beach station, the teams embarked on a “scavenger hunt” using the Actionbound app. They had to reach each of the checkpoints on a list and take photos, and complete their list by 11.30am, gathering at Ola Beach Club where more games awaited: a kayak competition and Telematch-style games such as filling up a pail with water using two small sponges, a ping pong ball-on-spoon relay, and a “mermaid” competition.
After much laughter and fun in the hot sun, the group returned to Ola Beach Club at noon, where lunch awaited. Prizes were awarded to the winning teams and participants, and then it was a time of rest and relaxation.
Apart from the staff members and volunteers, and other board members Allan Ong and Dr Jasper Tong also gamely joined in all the activities. For Dr Jasper, the activities brought him back in time. “We thoroughly relived the youthful days of scavenger hunt—only it was version 4.0 this time!”
Among the volunteers present were a number of senior volunteers—these are seniors in their 70s, some from City Harvest Church and others from the estates, who reach out to other elderly persons in their HDB estates as part of the COPE teams.
“Fun Day was good, even though it was a hot day,” says Maggie Tan, 72, a resident volunteer with HOJ Tampines. “The programme was good, even though there was a lot of walking—I would suggest more games for the seniors the next time. All credit goes to the team at HOJ! I hope to be at the next gathering in the near future—I volunteer my service if they need me!”
After such a successful day out, Tammy hopes to organise another volunteer appreciation event in November this year. The work that CHCSA does cannot be accomplished by the staff alone, but more than what the volunteers can do for the organisation and the clients is the relationships that are built as they serve the community together.