Illustrious Awards Celebrate the Achievements of Six Local Giving Heroes

Winners include an informal group that practises a hands-on volunteerism approach and an individual who empowers students through education.

Singapore, 6 October 2015 – President Tony Tan Keng Yam will present the annual President’s Volunteerism & Philanthropy Awards (PVPA) to six distinguished winners who have demonstrated excellence in giving back to the community. Organised by the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre (NVPC), the Awards presentation ceremony will be held on 14 October 2015 at Conrad Centennial Singapore Hotel. 

As giving is a holistic experience, the categories for this year’s PVPA have been expanded to encompass both the Volunteerism and Philanthropy components for the individual and group categories. NVPC recognises that the capacity to give and create impact through giving varies at different life stages. For example, factors like time, giving preferences and life experiences could result in the difference between a young person’s ability to give, compared to that of a working adult. To inspire people to continue giving throughout their lives, the individual categories have been expanded to cover the youth, adult and senior categories.

“My congratulations to the President’s Volunteerism and Philanthropy Awards (PVPA) 2015 recipients. The PVPA honours those who have impacted lives through their generous giving and acts of kindness and compassion. These special individuals and organisations inspire and rally many around them to care for the less fortunate and give back to the community in concrete ways that matter. Singapore’s achievements over the last five decades were possible because we have a cohesive and inclusive society. I am confident that our nation will continue to progress in the years ahead as long as we continue to look out for one another and take care of the disadvantaged among us,” said President Tony Tan Keng Yam.

The President’s Volunteerism & Philanthropy Awards 2015 will be presented to the following winners:

a. President’s Award for Corporate: CapitaLand

The Model Corporate Giving Citizen

“Building People, Building Communities” is CapitaLand’s philosophy that guides its corporate giving efforts. The organisation’s philanthropic arm, CapitaLand Hope

Foundation (CHF) donates up to 0.5% of the organisation’s net profit every year to supporting the needs of underprivileged children. All of the organisation’s corporate giving programmes are focused on improving the lives of disadvantaged children.

An example would be the Kids’ Food Fund, a nutritional education programme that provides underprivileged children healthy and balanced meals. The Fund has also donated over S$1.5m over the past few years to fulfill various children’s food needs.

Apart from this, there is the CapitaKids programme, a 10-year programme that provides long-term financial support for promising underprivileged children beyond their primary school education. My Schoolbag, with S$2.6m worth of fund from CHF, also provides underprivileged children with schoolbags containing school and daily necessities.

The impact of its corporate giving programmes is seen through the more than 28,000 volunteer hours dedicated to various volunteering activities in Singapore and the region by CapitaLand staff in 2014; this was an increase of over 55% from 2013. The number of staff volunteers also increased by 56% to 3,117 in 2014 from 2,000 in 2013. Increased employee volunteerism also has a positive impact on employee motivation. More than 95% of CapitaLand staff volunteers shared in a series of post-volunteer surveys that they feel proud to be working in the company with a positive and vibrant corporate culture.

b. President’s Award for Non-profit: Health Serve  

Serving the Needs of Migrants

Launched in 2006, HealthServe is a non-profit community development organisation that is dedicated to serving the interests of migrants and marginalised communities. It started with one clinic in Geylang that provided (and still provides) highly-subsidised healthcare to foreign workers. Since then, almost 3000 patients have come through its doors. HealthServe’s second clinic in Jurong was opened in February 2011. Its third clinic was opened in Mandai Estate, Westlite Dormitory on 8th August 2015.

Apart from providing medical assistance; legal advice, social assistance, and counselling services are just some of the areas in which volunteers at HealthServe contribute to. Casework, in particular, has seen a three-fold increase from 2012 to 2014, where injured migrant workers and workers with salary-related issues are given assistance and advice on their rights and entitlements.

Volunteers are the lifeblood of the organisation; there are currently 7 full-time staff and more than 280 volunteers. A Volunteer Engagement and Management Committee was formed in 2014 to oversee the matching of available volunteers and their relevant skills to the various needs of HealthServe. The Committee organises monthly orientation programmes to recruit volunteers.

Volunteers who were part of the Fundraising Committee contributed to the bulk of the fundraising efforts. The funds raised in 2014 amounted to $1.38m, of which almost 4% was spent on fundraising. 

c. President’s Award for Informal Group: Keeping Hope Alive

Hope Springs Eternal

Struck by the desire to restore the hope of people who find themselves in various marginalised circumstances, Ms Fion Phua decided to establish Keeping Hope Alive in 2007. This has since grown from a one-woman charity to a structured organisation with sustainable support systems.

Every Sunday, over 50 committed volunteers, who hail from all walks of life, gather to provide immediate help and assistance to those in need, namely the poor and elderly living in one-room and two-room HDB rental flats who struggle with daily life.

The impact of their voluntary work has improved the beneficiaries’ quality of lives in various ways. Little touches like fixing luminous tape and motion sensors in the homes of visually challenged residents have aided them in moving around more safely and easily. Mobility challenged residents get to enjoy healthcare benefits through the efforts of Keeping Hope Alive via the Home Colon Cancer Test Kit and eye screening examination.

The informal group has also helped to create platforms for donors to contribute directly to the utilities, housing rental and town council charges for the underprivileged residents. The volunteers have also provided free tuition services and improved the computer literacy skills of residents by providing them with laptops and desktop computers.

Keeping Hope Alive tries to be all-inclusive. Once beneficiaries qualify for help, even if their needs are not met by Keeping Hope Alive’s standard list of services and programmes, the informal group tries to get them the unique help they require.

d. President’s Award for Youth: Mr Mohamed Faizal s/o Mohamed Abdul Kadir

Never too Young to Pay it Forward

Mr Mohamed Faizal s/o Mohamed Abdul Kadir hails from a modest background and as a student, had a first-hand understanding of the struggles that many face to overcome the educational obstacles that stem from a lack of finances and the lack of available funding sources prior to tertiary education.

Motivated to ensure that even financially challenged secondary and junior college students could still receive a sound education, the 35-year-old Harvard Law School graduate approached his alma mater in 2006 with a view to setting up and funding the Bedok View Scholarship Programme. Buoyed by the tangible impact of this programme, Mr Faizal launched a similar programme last year at Tampines Junior College.

Apart from the scholarship programmes, Faizal has been contributing to Mendaki Club since 2005 (serving on its Executive Committee from 2007 to 2011) and, in particular, has been involved in its’ Young Minds’ Club Program, a program which seeks to provide Malay/Muslim secondary school students the necessary skills to serve as future leaders and to contribute positively to society.    

Faizal also served as Chairperson of the Selection Committee for the Youth Endeavour Awards in 2011, an awards program that celebrated the diverse causes championed by youths in Singapore and built bridges between the various communities.

e. President’s Award for Adult: Toh Soon Huat

Choosing Significance over Success

Mr Toh grew up in a humble family background. He had to drop out of school in Secondary Three and started doing odd jobs to contribute to the family income after months of struggling to hand in his school fees.

Determined to give back to the community, he agreed, without remuneration, to take over the running of the 112-year-old Sian Chay Medical Institution (SCMI) in 2008 that was at the brink of closure.

“From a century-old clinic with only four staff members facing a financial crisis, we transformed it into a large network of eight clinics and two wellness centres, with a healthy reserve of S$4m,” he said.

Over the past seven years, through his team’s aggressive fund-raising plans, SCMI has garnered the support of numerous high-profile organisations and foundations including Mediacorp, Singapore Power and the Lee Foundation. To date, almost $8m has been raised for the expansion of SCMI.

Since 2002, Mr Toh’s personal and corporate donations to charities have amounted to over $5m. For the past 11 years, he has also been actively involved in various donation drives in Singapore that have raised a total of $44m for 28 civic, community and charity organisations.

When asked what his plans for the future are, he envisions developing an integrated TCM network and having 100 TCM franchisees serving over one million beneficiaries a year in Singapore.

f. President’s Award for Senior: Mr Ngiam Tong Yuen

Giving in the Golden Years

“I volunteer because I want to give back to the country that has given me so many opportunities, including a scholarship for my tertiary education. I have been much luckier than others and have much to give,” Mr Ngiam Tong Yuen says.

Driven by a sense of gratitude and generous spirit, Mr Ngiam has been volunteering with a long list of professional bodies. However, it is Mr Ngiam’s work at RSVP that motivates him most.

RSVP Singapore is an organisation of senior volunteers at which Mr Ngiam has served on the Board of Management for over 10 years. Its Mentoring Programme, of which Mr Ngiam was Chairman for two years, is run in partnership with schools. 

Through the programme, senior volunteers impart wisdom to the younger generation and ensure the safety of at-risk “latchkey” kids.

Mr Ngiam’s belief that VWOs should be financially self-sufficient resulted in his decision to be Chairman of RSVP ProGuide. The RSVP ProGuide social enterprise provides reasonably priced consultancy and training services to clients such as government agencies like the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and SMEs. The profits are channelled back to RSVP for its community programmes.

Besides volunteering his time, Mr Ngiam also regularly donates to RSVP and other charities, e.g. Singapore Children’s Society, Kidney Dialysis Foundation, Boys’ Town and others.

For full details of the Awards winners, please refer to the citation booklet on the President’s Volunteerism & Philanthropy Awards 2015.