Monday, April 10, 2006

Volunteering Orientation on 8th April 2006


On Saturday 8th April, we welcomed our very first group of volunteers who attended the Monthly Talk on Volunteering at the National Community of Social Service. To all new volunteers: You have taken the first step to a more meaningful life in making a positive impact to our lonely elderly at the home. We look forward to seeing you and hope you can join us in more meaningful and exciting activities at All Saints Home.

Handicraft and Singing Activities

Our experienced volunteers namely Teck Ee, Edmund, Eric, Tian Chee took the new volunteers around the home and introduced the elderly. Whereas, Meng Hwee, Ser Hui, Winfred and I assisted the elderly in the handicraft activities which is held every alternate week. This session, we have a compact CD player playing some oldie songs. Special credit must go to Eric who took the heavy compact player all the way from Jurong. We had real fun painting with the music playing in the background. Some elderly even sang while painting. After the handicraft session, we went around the home starting from level 3 (as usual) and serenaded the elderly with some old songs. Ok. I admit we sang out-of-tune. But hey! At least some elderly enjoyed it and even sang along with us. :) This week, much to our shock, one elderly reacted very strongly during the sing-along session. It was an emotional release for him. Hope he felt better after that.

Sharing Session

After the activities, we proceeded to the reading room for a short meeting to gather feedback. Some said that it seem superficial to touch the elderly and chat for a few minutes and proceed to another one. Actually, we only chat for a few minutes during the orientation so as to introduce more elderly to the new volunteers and to show them around the place.

Initially when I first started volunteering, I felt the same way until a memorable incident changed my perspective and got me into thinking on how to make the volunteering session much more impactful.

I was chatting with a gregarious aunty for about 40 minutes when from the corner of my eyes, I noticed another aunty who was sitting 2 beds away looking at me as if she yearned to talk to me. I decided to talk to her after I finished. Alas, when I wanted to chat with her, she went to sleep. I felt guilty after that. I wondered how many elderly I can chat with for a day. How to make it more impactful such that all the elderly know that there is a group of volunteers who want to befriend them? How not to hurt other elderly's feeling?

There are different personalities at All Saints Home. There are the extrovert, introvert, sporty and musically-inclined elderly. I then realised that it is possible to make a positive impact although at the present there are only about 10 regular volunteers to about 170+ elderly. That is when group activity plays a very important role in ensuring more elderly benefit from our presence. Wow, perhaps your singing can so impress the elderly that they want to befriend you. Or like what Eric said, treat this singing session to practise our vocal chord.

After much discussion, we planned that from 2.30 to 3.30 pm, it will be the befriending session whereby volunteers visit the elderly and chat with them or play ball- throwing. You can chat for as long as you want. Sometimes I think it also depend on the affinity you have with the elderly. Some can be so engrossed in chatting that you forgot the time. Then from 3.30 to 4.30 pm, it will be group singing session. It is one thing that they look forward to.

More volunteers also implied that there will be much more activities for the elderly. For example, a new volunteer suggested pottering which I think is quite a good idea. Can you envisage on every Sat, there will be a group playing cardboard game, another indulging in handicraft activity, another group singing and many more? This vision can be achieved with more volunteers joining us.

On 8th April, the atmosphere is really different with so many volunteers. It is much more dynamic and energetic. Thank you to all the volunteers. You have made the elderly's day!

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