It’s a proven fact that acts of charity are linked to feelings of happiness. So if you’ve considered doing volunteer work but never got around to it, now’s a good time to start. Hear it from three women who took the time out to make a difference.
A happy volunteer!
When her parents said no to a pet dog, Stasha started volunteering at Save Our Street Dogs.
My journey with SOSD began about three years ago at the shelter. I really wanted a dog of my own, but my parents are Muslim. So I signed up as a SOSD pack walk volunteer. When I started university, I offered to help on the Education and Outreach team as it had a more flexible roster.
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I’m SOSD’s honourary secretary… and my responsibilities include arranging monthly meetings and taking down minutes. I also guide department heads in drafting policies, liaise with government authorities and represent the organisation for official functions. I’m also the coordinator for SOSD’s Healing Paws programme, where volunteers and their dogs visit children’s homes, community hospitals and hospices to provide warmth and companionship to beneficiaries.
If you’re thinking of volunteering with SOSD… there’s a variety of departments to choose from. If you like dogs and enjoy working with human beneficiaries, I’d suggest volunteering for the Healing Paws programme. If you find joy in connecting a dog to a perfect home, and potentially changing the life of a family forever, consider joining the rehoming team.If you don’t mind getting your hands dirty and exploring the great outdoors, consider joining the shelter volunteer team or SOS team.
A piece of advice I have for people thinking about volunteer work is… to volunteer within their means. Before volunteering, I suggest asking yourself a few things: what societal issue are you bothered by and want to address? What volunteer welfare organisation can provide you with the resources or information you need to address these issues? What qualities about yourself can you channel to address these issues? These will help you go on a long and meaningful volunteering journey.
The Healing Paws
those in need.
Aqilah Abdul Rahim
As a volunteer at the Institute of Mental Health, she befriends patients and lends a listening ear.
I first started volunteering with the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) back in 2011. Back then, I simply wanted to understand people with mental health difficulties better. I volunteer as part of The Achievers group, which organises activities for the patients whom we affectionately refer to as our “Special Friends”. These activities range from simple craft sessions and birthday parties in the wards, to outings to parks and other attractions. We’d also chat with them during such activities to ensure they’re safe and having a good time.
These sessions are held fortnightly… on Saturday afternoons, with our three adopted wards at IMH. Sometimes, we also have special outings and events on weekend mornings.
I find working with patients with mental health issues to be a heartwarming experience… seeing how they can be especially candid. We have to get to know the patients a bit more to find out about their individual temperaments so we can better communicate. It takes time to understand them, and also to realise that they may have days when they are less like their usual selves, or are more reticent.
There were also times when some of the patients whom I built rapport with were discharged or moved. I draw comfort from knowing these changes are for the better, so they can be better cared for.
When signing up for volunteer work at IMH… just come with an open heart and an interest to engage with the patients. I personally feel that you don’t always have to come in being particularly passionate or knowledgeable about supporting those with mental health difficulties; I think sincerity and openness matter most. I understand if commitment is a concern, but I do feel that sometimes, the best way to check that worry would simply be to give it a go. You might surprise yourself with how you can manage to make time for your friends!
Aqilah, 24, regularly
volunteers at IMH.
A breast cancer survivor, Branda helps other women by giving awareness talks.
I was first diagnosed with breast cancer… at 28, in early January 2015. Luckily for me, it was Stage 1 and hadn’t spread to my lymph nodes. I underwent four cycles of chemotherapy, lumpectomy, and 33 sessions of radiotherapy. I’m also taking a drug that’s taken to prevent breast cancer for five years. The reason my oncologist suggested such a comprehensive treatment plan was because the chances of recurrence is generally higher in younger patients.
Upon completion of my treatment, I decided to…take a longer break from work, so I tried helping out at the Breast Cancer Foundation (BCF) as often as I could. I was practically there every day, either for its Healing Through The Arts activities or to volunteer. My duties as a volunteer include calling sponsors for events, sewing merchandise for charity sales, supporting events, locking up after evening classes, manning the reception, and participating in dragon boat races to raise awareness and showcase BCF’s very own dragon boat team, Paddlers in the Pink.
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I’m also a survivor sharer… which sees me giving awareness talks at organisations. I was initially quite shy about sharing something so personal with the public, but I felt like it was my duty to do so. As a young woman, I was guilty of taking my health for granted, and had the misconception that breast cancer only affects women above the age of 50. I was obviously wrong! So as a young survivor, I really want to remind people, especially young adults, to be more vigilant in caring for their own health as well as their loved ones’.
At the Pink
Train launch for
It’s not easy to revisit the memories of going through cancer. I still can’t help but tear when I talk about the day I got the shocking news. Nevertheless, I feel empowered, and it’s heartwarming when people come up to me after the talk to thank me. Some of them, including the men, promised to remind their friends and families to go for regular health screenings and to do a self-check every month.
Having survived cancer, I couldn’t have done it without the support from BCF… so spending some of my free time to help is the least I could do in return. Also, my volunteer work has been truly rewarding. I totally understand why there’s the saying, “giving is better than receiving”. If you’re thinking of signing up for volunteer work, go for it. The more we give, the happier we feel. Plus, you’ll get a great sense of accomplishment from doing good for others.
husband at last