There is often so much going on in life that it is difficult to make time for loved ones or even enjoy some “me time”. It may thus seem unthinkable to even consider spending precious time on complete strangers. Yet volunteering is not only good for the community, it also does wonders for oneself.
There has been scientific evidence that volunteering has a causal relationship with happiness. A study in Social Science and Medicine conducted by researchers at the London School of Economics found that the more people volunteered, the happier they were. That sense of accomplishment that stems from doing good for others is a significant booster for self-confidence and self-esteem.
Aside from emotional fulfilment, volunteering also has other practical benefits. It brings people of diverse backgrounds together through team work and camaraderie, rendering each session an opportunity to network, make new friends and improve social skills. Depending on the type of volunteering you do and the organisation you volunteer for, the knowledge that can be obtained ranges from contacts for local resources to learning new skills to discovering your own hidden talents. You gain professional know-how like leadership and team building skills, and build on skills that you already have, such as organising activities.
With so much media limelight on the frontline volunteering, such as helping the underprivileged overseas, or rendering assistance in disaster zones, it is easy to forget that volunteering can also mean providing back-room support in administration or social media marketing, and also more casual and lighter activities. It is certainly possible to volunteer without taking leave from work or burning all your weekends.
First of all, decide how much time and how frequently you can commit. One hour a week, once a fortnight, once a month… you’re making a difference as long as you’re doing something for the community. But be responsible, give advance notice if you can’t turn up, and don’t come and go as you please. When organisations give volunteers the convenience of flexibility, they have lots of administration work to do in terms of planning and scheduling.
Next, consider working with organizations near home to save on travel time. This also reduces the inertia on rest days when you just want to hole up at home. Here are some organisations within the Bishan and Toa Payoh estates that welcome volunteers:
Alzheimer’s Disease Association (Singapore)
Blk 157 Lorong 1 Toa Payoh,
#01-1195, Singapore 310157
Tel: 6353 8734
Volunteer opportunities: http://www.alz.org.sg/join-the-cause
Blk 149 Lorong 1 Toa Payoh,
#01-973, Singapore 310149
Tel: 6250 6813
Volunteer opportunities: http://www.carecorner.org.sg/volunteer.html
Centre for Seniors
9 Bishan Place,
#10-02, Junction 8 Office Tower
Tel : 6478 5010
Volunteer opportunities: http://www.centreforseniors.org.sg/volunteer.htm
Home Nursing Foundation
93 Toa Payoh Central, # 07-01,
Toa Payoh Community Building,
Tel: 6252 5677
Volunteer opportunities: http://www.nkfs.org/be-a-volunteer.html
9 Bishan Place, #10-02,
Junction 8 Office Tower,
Tel: 6478 5482
Volunteer opportunities: http://www.ntuceldercare.org.sg/
9 Bishan Place,
Junction 8 (Office Tower),
#07-01, Singapore 579837
Tel: 6354 9340
Volunteer opportunities: http://www.myheart.org.sg/giving-and-helping/volunteers/5/11
(Note: Some of the above are main offices. Aside from back-end support, activities may be held elsewhere)
And not forgetting the Grassroots Organisations and Resident Committees that are made up of volunteers serving the residents to improve their quality of life. Together with the MPs, they help to reach out to those in need at the Meet-the-People Sessions and through activities for the less fortunate like food distribution exercises.
Choose something that you already know how to do, and enjoy doing. This would not only make your stint more enjoyable, but you get to spend less time learning the ropes. There is no lack of variety if you know where to look, and you’re bound to find something that would appeal to you. Here is our pick of lesser known volunteer activities in Singapore in recent months:
Karaoke coordinator: If you love singing, you would enjoy this activity that involves singing along with and cheering on patients at karaoke sessions, as well as assisting them with mobility issues to and from their wards to the activity areas.
Swimming coordinator: Swimmers can help build up the capacity and self-esteem in individuals with autism by assisting them with swim routines.
Hair grooming coordinator: Giving patients a simple hair cut may not be challenging for professional hair stylists and those in training, but they can surely take heart from lifting the spirits of the patients.
Super hero cosplayer: Morph into a real super hero by dressing up for fund raising.
Dance outreach: Put those K-pop dancing skills to good use by helping patients to improve psychomotor skills and breathe vibrancy into them.
Party planner / supporter / performer: Celebrate birthdays for beneficiaries by planning the party games, putting up a performance or just cheering them up with your presence.
To search for the above volunteer activities and more, visit the following websites:
You can also check out some activities where you may be able to volunteer with your child. Volunteering with family members provides opportunities for bonding. Many volunteers bring their friends, or make new friends at the activities. Aside from increasing interaction, it also provides common ground.
Last but not least, regardless of your agenda, always volunteer with a genuine heart. Only then will you truly appreciate the beauty of this profound activity.
– This article first appeared in a lifestyle magazine