Kristy and Choon Kait are a delightful and chatty married couple. Their weekends are usually spent exercising, cycling, hiking and catching up with family members. Their favourite cycling spot? East Coast Park. Favourite hiking venue? Bukit Timah Hill.
You might ask, how did volunteering become a part of spending time together as a family?
It Began With An Interest In Children’s Causes
Initially, they explored opportunities like Willing Hearts where they contributed to meal preparations working as kitchen volunteers. After volunteering with a few other non-profit organisations, they developed a passion for children’s causes.
Despite not having any kids, Kristy has always loved interacting with children, enjoying their genuine and carefree nature.
She chanced upon a volunteer advertisement on Giving.sg in 2020 with local non-profit organisation Blessings in a Bag. Having some free time on their Saturdays, she decided to sign Choon Kait and herself up for a volunteering stint.
They learnt about how Blessings in a Bag aimed to provide every child and their family from vulnerable backgrounds with the essentials to thrive, access to opportunities, support and space to build their dreams.
Children and youths are provided with a safe space where they can be themselves, learn new skills and develop into confident and compassionate young people.
Feeling connected, Kristy and Choon Kait share, “What drew us as volunteers is the mission and vision they have. The purpose of helping the children by giving them a safe space to attend the sessions, learn and interact with their peers attracted us. The mission resonates with us a lot in terms of what they aim to do for the children”.
Joining The Blessings In A Bag Community
Their introductory volunteering with Blessings in a Bag saw them packing and sorting donated items such as children’s storybooks and clothes, for recipients to access the items conveniently.
As they grew in their understanding of the Blessings in a Bag space, the experience to interact with the children came next when they moved to become volunteer facilitators for weekend programmes.
The programme volunteering begins with fetching the children from near their homes and accompanying them to a main activity centre.
Choon Kait explains, “There could be specific activities for the children like learning how to recycle or what they can do to protect our planet. We coordinate with the trainers, help pair up the kids, assist them in the activities and at the end of the session, we bring them back to their respective homes”.
There are also plenty of memorable moments during their interactions with the children.
Enthusiastically recalling such a moment, Kristy says, “What struck me the first time when we fetched the kids was how innocent they were in striking conversations with you”. One girl asked Kristy and Choon Kait if they were married together!
The girl shared how seeing them walking and carrying umbrellas together made them look like a couple. “It’s so cute from an 8-year-old girl, how observant she is, seeing us from afar and starting such a conversation with us”, Kristy adds.
Common Topics During Family Time
The advantages of volunteering together are you’re never shy of common topics during family time, and matching schedules to volunteer together can be easily planned.
The two joyfully share, “Even days after the event has passed, we will still talk about our experiences like how the day went, what the children had said, and how they all enjoyed themselves”. Thoughts on how they can improve the children’s programmes and relaying feedback to the Blessings in a Bag community are also part of their conversations.
Bringing the kids to Snow City on a recent outing, Choon Kait recalls how some of the kids have never seen snow and were wondering how cold it might be. He shares the funny part, “Some of them didn’t wear a jacket and when they went in and realised how cold it was, they immediately ran back out to collect their jackets from the Snow City staff”.
As volunteers, it’s fulfilling when they see beaming smiles from the children. It’s especially striking how some children grow over time, from being shy, to opening up and socialising with their peers and teachers. “That’s the impact you see that you have brought as a volunteer”, Kristy adds.
Opportunities To Grow As Volunteers
One issue that struck Kristy during the days of a rampant Covid-19 was seeing how some volunteers were slowly becoming disengaged.
She adopted design thinking methodology and conducted in-depth interviews and surveys to understand the volunteers’ challenges in their volunteering journey as well as their motivations for joining Blessings in a Bag.
Together with a team of fellow volunteers, she led in brainstorming solutions to improve the onboarding experience for newbie volunteers and keep them engaged with the community.
With this encouraging and progressive culture, Kristy says, “The place allows me as a volunteer to grow. If you want to learn or pick up a new skill, you’re most welcome to consult with the Blessings team who are quite willing to work with you and empower you to help improve the space and the community”. She adds, “Overall, I feel like I can do more than what I wanted to do”.
Volunteering Together Brings Learning And A Shared Purpose
Volunteering and giving back together gives the couple a shared sense of purpose.
From Choon Kait’s observation, “Most Singaporeans enjoy their normal eating and shopping trips during their free time, but over time it gets stagnant. With volunteering, it becomes more interesting because you have additional chances to see and engage with different people”.
For Kristy, the process of learning through their volunteering experiences is a good reason. One highlight for her is self-development, training their patience as well as learning tips on how to manage and interact with kids.
She adds, “Parents might be able to learn how to better manage and interact with their children and the children can learn from their peers. So, in all, giving and receiving tips, ideas and perspectives make it an ideal and enjoyable occasion when you volunteer”.
Whether you’re with family, friends or loved ones, it’s always a joy and a shared experience when you volunteer together as a team for a good cause! This June, explore volunteering opportunities by visiting Giving.sg.
To learn more about volunteering opportunities with Blessings in a Bag, click the link below. For email enquiries, you can write to [email protected]
You can also help fulfill wishlist items requested by children, families and the programme team from Blessings in a Bag.